Blu-ray Review: THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTFOOT (Encore Edition)

THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTFOOT was written and directed by Michael Cimino and stars Clint Eastwood, Jeff Bridges, George Kennedy, Geoffrey Lewis, Catherine Bach, Gary Busey and Vic Tayback. The score is by Dee Barton.

Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974) marked the directing debut of screenwriter Michael Cimino (The Deer Hunter, Heaven’s Gate), working under the meticulous guidance of star/producer Clint Eastwood. Eastwood plays a typically laconic loner, a big-time thief in hiding who hooks up with a goofy young drifter (Jeff Bridges, giving an Oscar®-nominated performance). First attempting to escape from a couple of vengeful former partners (George Kennedy, Geoffrey Lewis), then joining forces with them to pull off a risky robbery, Eastwood and Bridges give us an ultimately touching portrait of masculine friendship. Superbly photographed in Montana’s Big Sky country by Frank Stanley, and featuring a score by Eastwood regular Dee Barton.

This 1974 crime-thriller follows Thunderbolt (Clint Eastwood), a legendary thief posing as as priest in a small church when Red (George Kennedy), his old partner in crime, finds him and wants to kill him for the heist that went wrong several years earlier. They stole some money and Thunderbolt got away and ended up hiding it in a one room schoolhouse while Red went to jail for the crime, so this left him feeling betrayed. What happens is, Thunderbolt runs from Red and ends up jumping in a Trans-Am driven by Lightfoot (Jeff Bridges), a free-spirited small-time thief who’s just looking for a good time. These two strangers quickly hit it off and set out on an adrenaline-filled adventure but Red and his likable partner Eddie (Geoffrey Lewis) are in hot pursuit. Thunderbolt and Lightfoot go back to the location of the one room schoolhouse but it’s gone and so is the money. The four men finally have a few uncomfortable meetings about the missing loot but when Lightfoot comes up with an idea to pull off the same heist again all the men hop on board and come up with a plan.

Even though this new heist kind of goes as planned, there’s also betrayal within the ranks because Red is the kind of guy that can’t be trusted. He turns on everyone else and of course the cops end up chasing them. Red also takes things a little too far with his partners when they’re all fighting around and fatally wounds Lightfoot even though he doesn’t know it just yet. Thunderbolt and Lightfoot keep their distance from Red who gets too reckless because of his greed and the cops give him a much needed dose of karma he needs. The two friends get away and accidentally locate the elusive one room schoolhouse that had evidentally been relocated when the new school was built in its place. They take a chance and go inside to discover that the stashed money was still inside and the two start their celebration. As great of an ending as this sounds, it’s not because Lightfoot took a severe beating from Red and his life ultimately comes to an end while he’s riding shotgun in style with his best friend, Thunderbolt.

The front of the packaging features the artwork you see at the top of the page and the back includes movie details, an image, a few quotes, and list of special features. The reverse sleeve features an image from the movie. The Blu-ray disc also features some artwork that matches the front cover. Inside is a booklet from Twilight Time that includes more images from the movie, some nice words about Thunderbolt and Lightfoot by Julie Kirgo and more original artwork on the front and back. You can see the front cover of the booklet down below. Inserting the disc, the menu screen was simple and easy to navigate. The picture and sound quality for this high-definition release were crisp and clear. I didn’t have any serious issues with the video and audio.

Bottom line is, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot is a movie I’ve heard about for so many years but never had a chance to watch it until now thanks to this encore edition Blu-ray from Twilight Time. I really got into the story about these two strangers that immediately hit it off as they set out on an adrenaline-filled adventure that’s filled with sex, violence, music and crime. This bromance between Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges plays like a big brother taking his younger brother out on a road trip and introducing him to the good and bad things the world has to offer. Watching these two legends on screen together during their prime was an absolute blast and they’re complimented by a great supporting cast. I can see why Jeff Bridges was nominate for an Oscar here because he kind of stole the show. Even back in 1974 Clint Eastwood had already become a power player and he’s the one who gave Michael Cimino the opportunity to direct this movie and I thought he delivered a fantastic buddy movie that’s one part road trip and one part crime thriller. Thunderbolt and Lightfoot is available on an encore edition Blu-ray and is limited to 3,000 units.

Distributor: Twilight Time

Run Time: 114 Minutes

Rated: R

Blu-ray Video: 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (2.35:1) Region Free

Blu-ray Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 (2.0 on some players)

Subtitles: English SDH

Special Features: The extras include an isolated score track, some audio commentary and the original theatrical trailer. I would’ve loved to have had some new interviews with some of the cast or anyone else connected to this movie. Maybe even some vintage TV spots or radio spots.

  • Isolated Score Track
  • Audio Commentary with Film Historians Lem Dobbs, Julie Kirgo, and Nick Redman
  • Original Theatrical Trailer (01:58)
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