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11 user 4 critic

Distant Thunder (1988)

A troubled Vietnam war vet deserts his wife and child shortly after he returns from the war. He returns after 10 years, where he's been living like an animal in the forest. He finds himself... See full summary »

Director:

Rick Rosenthal

Writers:

Robert Stitzel (story), Deedee Wehle (story) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ralph Macchio ... Jack Lambert
John Lithgow ... Mark Lambert
Kerrie Keane ... Char
Reb Brown ... Harvey Nitz
Janet Margolin ... Barbara Lambert
Denis Arndt ... Larry
Jamey Sheridan ... Moss
Tom Bower ... Louis
John Kelly John Kelly ... Andy
Michael Currie Michael Currie ... Coach Swabey
Hilary Strang Hilary Strang ... Jane
Robyn Stevan Robyn Stevan ... Holly
David Longworth ... Sheriff
Gordon Currie ... Billy Watson
Walter Marsh ... Principal
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Storyline

A troubled Vietnam war vet deserts his wife and child shortly after he returns from the war. He returns after 10 years, where he's been living like an animal in the forest. He finds himself unprepared for the changes that he will have to cope with, and when the vet tries to contact his son, he realizes that he has caused more damage than he had imagined. Written by Brennan Storr

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A hero of war. A casualty of peace, With only one hope for survival...his son. See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA | Canada

Language:

English

Release Date:

11 November 1988 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Distant Thunder - The last echoes of war See more »

Filming Locations:

British Columbia, Canada See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$8,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$156,188
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

John Lithgow's character was a Navy SEAL during his service in Vietnam. See more »

Goofs

The 1966 Pontiac used in the film is not a real GTO. The taillights are single pod lenses making this either a Tempest or LeMans - a real GTO has segmented taillights which spans the rear header panel with a 12 inch blank center section. Also, a real GTO has the grille emblem in the driver side grille opening (same with the final 2004-06 generation) - the emblem is on the passenger side grille (the final muscle-era GTO produced for the 1974 model year has a vinyl graphic GTO logo placed on the passenger-side header panel). See more »

Quotes

Mark Lambert: I wrote a letter, didn't I?
Jack Lambert: 15 years and one god damn letter? Fuck you!
See more »

Soundtracks

Distant Thunder
By Bill Thumm & R.D. 'Luther' Fairbairn (as R.D. Fairbairn)
Performed by Keith Bennett
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Life moves on... if you let it.
7 September 2008 | by lost-in-limboSee all my reviews

John Lithgow surprises me in this carefully penned, sombre mediative low-scale character drama masterfully directed by Rick Rosenthal (Halloween II '81' and 'Bad Boys '83'). The heartfelt topic at hand centres on a man (Nam VET) who returns home to not only to hide away from society (shacked up with a bunch of other ex-Nam soldiers in the wilderness), but also his wife and son. He would like to make contact with his now grown-up son (which is excellently performed by Ralph Macchio), but has trouble overcoming the thoughts of him seeing what he has become. The scarring mentality of combat has changed the way he interacts with people. Escaping those demons means solitude and the area (woodlands replacing steamy jungles) fits these outcasts that no one truly understands. Still he wants to live a normal life and through the caring guidance of Char (a beautifully touching performance by Kerrie Keane) he gets a job and gains the courage to write to his son to plan a get-together. But one thing leads to another, as he finds it's harder to cope and heads back to where he knows there's no expectations.

The chemistry and exchanges between Lithgow and Macchio is astutely projected, because of the actor's conviction to the material's sources. Lithgow's solemn performance is powerfully engaging in a quietly reflective manner. Where he draws upon a sturdy, but multi-facet display that shows how strong a dramatic actor he is. I'm sure if it wasn't for his performance, it wouldn't have the same imprint. Any Lithgow admirer should seek out this favourably rewarding performance.

The harrowing story has heart, where relationships are constructed, tested and formed. The war might be over now, but for those who served, it's still a great part of their everyday lives and peace will never consistently fulfil that emptiness. But for Lithgow's character his son can change that. But there's one line in the movie that sums up where this movie is going; "I'm not going to waste all of your time so I'm just going a few words. Like all of you, I would like to move on in life." Towards the end it spurts out a little bit of some thrilling action, which feels totally out-of-place with the context, but is agreeably executed. Rosenthal's accomplished handling comes up trumps. Maurice Jarre's score is exotically haunting and Ralf Bode's silky camera-work is admirably done.

This praiseworthy (if alienating) unknown feature is well worth the gander and one to really ponder over.


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