Major Charles Rane comes back from the war and is given a number of gifts from his hometown because he is a war hero. Some greedy thugs decide that they want to steal a number of silver dollars from him. In the process they also manage to kill his wife and son and destroy his hand. The Major wants revenge so he enlists the help of his war buddy Johnny to meet the thugs in a final showdown.Written by
Josh Pasnak <email@example.com>
Luke Askew contracted food poisoning during the shooting of the movie, and was seriously ill on the day the famous scene in which William Devane rips into Askew's crotch with his hook hand was shot. See more »
None of the guns fired throughout the movie recoil ("jump") when they are fired. See more »
I'm always fascinated by some of the wonderful and lesser known cult films from the 1970's. The Grainy film stock, the reliance on character and story rather than effects. "Rolling Thunder" is an excellent noir / revenge example of how atmosphere and the "less is more" style can propel a movie along in such a gripping way. With a screenplay by Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver) and a haunting theme song by Denny Brooks, this is a quality example of the genre.
Major Charles Rane (William Devane) is a man who has been pushed beyond his limits during an eight year incarceration in the Hanoi Hilton. Returning home with his friend Sergeant Vohgel (Tommy Lee Jones)and being a minor celebrity to his home town, He is presented with a new Cadillac car and a briefcase full of silver dollars (one for every day he was a POW) He tries to adapt to civilian life with his wife, who is now engaged to another man, and his son who doesn't remember him. Any chance at healing his soul is destroyed when a gang of thugs show up at his house to steal the silver dollars. After trying to torture the location (unsuccessfully) of the briefcase out of the Major, his son reveals where it is in an effort to spare his father any more pain. Once in possession of the money they kill his wife and son as they witnessed the crime and leave him for dead. Big Mistake.
This is a complex film which shows you a traumatised and quiet protagonist who is emotionally dead inside. Having suffered so much already , he can barely show any emotion over losing his family. When he decides to hunt the killers down, there are no outbursts just a cold resolve to do what he must.
Devane and Jones are excellent as two men who share an unbreakable bond of camaraderie and are both destroyed by the horrors they suffered in Vietnam. Its interesting how neither fear conflict but are both uneasy in their own homes. Linda Haynes gives good support as a waitress who is attracted to Rane and his celebrity but then realises he is psychologically existing on a different level.
One of the most interesting "revenge" films that i've seen due to the complex nature of the characters and the total lack of glorification involved in the scenes of violence. There are similarities to "The Wild Bunch" (1969) and the final shootout is a scene worthy of Peckinpah himself.
(At time of writing, this film is only available on a Spanish import DVD or rare VHS copies which you might be able to track down on e bay. Lets hope for a studio DVD release soon.)
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