|Thunderbolt and Lightfoot|
|Directed by||Michael Cimino|
|Written by||Michael Cimino|
|Produced by||Robert Daley|
|Edited by||Ferris Webster|
|Music by||Dee Barton|
|Distributed by||United Artists|
|Budget||$4 million or $2.2 million|
|Box office||$25 million (U.S.)|
Thunderbolt and Lightfoot is a 1974 American crime comedy film written and directed by Michael Cimino and starring Clint Eastwood, Jeff Bridges, George Kennedy, and Geoffrey Lewis.
A young ne'er-do-well, Lightfoot (Jeff Bridges) steals a car. Elsewhere, an assassin attempts to shoot a preacher delivering a sermon at his pulpit. The preacher escapes on foot. Lightfoot, who happens to be driving by, inadvertently rescues the preacher by running over his pursuer and giving the preacher a lift.
Lightfoot eventually learns that the "minister" is really a notorious bank robber known as "The Thunderbolt" (Clint Eastwood) for his use of an Oerlikon 20 mm cannon to break into a safe. Hiding out in the guise of a clergyman following the robbery of a Montana bank, Thunderbolt is the only member of his old gang who knows where the loot is hidden.
After escaping another attempt on his life by two other men, Thunderbolt tells Lightfoot that the ones trying to kill him are members of his gang who mistakenly thought Thunderbolt had double-crossed them. He and Lightfoot journey to Warsaw, Montana to retrieve the money hidden in an old one-room schoolhouse. They discover the schoolhouse has been replaced by a brand-new school standing in its place.
Thunderbolt and Lightfoot are abducted by the men who were pursuing them—the vicious Red Leary (George Kennedy) and the gentle Eddie Goody (Geoffrey Lewis)—and driven to a remote location where Thunderbolt and Red fight each other, after which Thunderbolt explains how he never betrayed the gang.
Lightfoot proposes another heist—robbing the same company as before—with a variation on the original plan; the variation being due to Lightfoot inadvertently killing their electronics expert, Dunlop, the man who tried to assassinate Thunderbolt in the earlier scene. In the city where the bank is located, the men find jobs to raise money for needed equipment while they plan the heist.
The robbery begins as Thunderbolt and Red gain access to the building. Lightfoot, dressed as a woman, distracts the Western Union office's security guard, deactivates the ensuing alarm, and is picked up by Goody. Using an anti-tank cannon to breach the vault's wall, as they did in the first heist, the gang escapes with the loot. They flee in the car, with Red and Goody in the trunk, to a nearby drive-in movie in progress. Upon seeing a shirt tail protruding from the car's trunk lid (which is a strong indication one or more people are hiding in the trunk to avoid paying), the suspicious theater manager goes to investigate. Red becomes increasingly agitated and Thunderbolt leaves the drive-in, encountering police at the exit. Thunderbolt tries to evade the police, and a chase ensues. Goody is shot and Red throws him out of the trunk onto a dirt road, where he dies.
Red then forces Thunderbolt and Lightfoot to stop the car. He pistol-whips them both, knocking them unconscious, and violently kicks Lightfoot in the head a number of times. Red takes off with the loot in the getaway car but is again pursued by police, who shoot Red several times, causing him to lose control of the car and crash through the window of a department store, where he is attacked and killed by the store's vicious watchdog.
Escaping on foot, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot hitch a ride the next morning and are dropped off near Warsaw, Montana, where they stumble upon the one-room schoolhouse—now a historical monument on the side of a highway, having been moved there from its original location in Warsaw after the first heist. As the two men retrieve the stolen money, Lightfoot's behavior becomes erratic as a result of the beating.
Thunderbolt buys a new Cadillac convertible with cash, something Lightfoot said he had always wanted to do, and picks up his waiting partner, who is gradually losing control of the left side of his body. As they drive away celebrating their success with cigars, Lightfoot, in obvious distress, tells Thunderbolt in a slurred voice how proud he is of their 'accomplishments', and slumps over dead.
Thunderbolt snaps his cigar in half (as it is no longer a celebration), and with his dead partner beside him, he drives off down the highway into the distance.
Michael Cimino wrote the script on speculation, with Eastwood in mind.His agent, Stan Kamen of the William Morris Agency, came up with the idea of packaging the film with Cimino, Bridges, and Eastwood. Eastwood was available after turning down the lead role in Charley Varrick. Due to the great financial success of Dennis Hopper's Easy Rider , road pictures were a popular genre in Hollywood. Eastwood himself wanted to do a road movie. Agent Leonard Hirshan brought the script to Eastwood from fellow agent Kamen. Reading it, Eastwood liked it so much that he originally intended to direct it himself. However, on meeting Cimino, he decided to give him the directing job instead, giving Cimino his big break and feature-film directorial debut. Cimino later said that if it was not for Eastwood, he never would have had a career in film. Cimino patterned Thunderbolt after one of his favorite '50s films, Captain Lightfoot . The music was composed by Dee Barton but the end titles song "Where Do I Go From Here?" was composed and performed by Paul Williams.
Although Eastwood generally refused to spend much time in scouting for locations, particularly unfamiliar ones, Cimino and Eastwood's producer Robert Daley traveled extensively around the Big Sky Country in Montana for thousands of miles and eventually decided on the Great Falls area and to shoot the film in the towns of Ulm, Hobson, Fort Benton, Augusta and Choteau and surrounding mountainous countryside.The film was shot in 47 days from July to September 1973. It was filmed in Fort Benton, Wolf Creek, Great Falls, and Hobson. St. John's Lutheran Church in Hobson was used for the opening scene. The freeway exit for fictional Warsaw was, in reality, the Interstate 15 exit for Dearborn, an unincorporated community that straddles the Cascade/Lewis & Clark County Line. The scene where Thunderbolt recovers the money from the one-room schoolhouse was filmed at the rest stop just south of Exit 240, which is the exit for Dearborn.
Eastwood did not like to do any more than three takes on any given shot, according to co-star Bridges. "I would always go to Mike and say 'I think I can do one more. I got an idea.' And Mike would say 'I gotta ask Clint.' Clint would say, 'Give the kid a shot.'"Charles Okun, first assistant director on Thunderbolt, added, "Clint was the only guy that ever said 'no'. Michael said 'OK, let's go for another take.' It was take four, Clint would say 'No we got enough. We got it.' [...] And if [Cimino] took too long to get it ready, [Clint] would say, 'It's good, let's go.'"
Thunderbolt was released on May 22, 1974. The film grossed $9 million in rentals on its initial theatrical releaseand eventually grossed $25 million in the United States, making it the 17th highest-grossing film of 1974. The film did respectable box office business, and the studio profited, but Clint Eastwood vowed never to work with the movie's distributor United Artists again due to what he felt was bad promotion. According to author Marc Eliot, Eastwood perceived himself as being upstaged by Bridges.
Thunderbolt and Lightfoot was released to DVD by MGM Home Video on June 13, 2000, as a Region 1 widescreen DVD and also by Twilight Time on February 11, 2014, as a Region A Blu-ray.
Howard Thompson of The New York Times praised the film as "a funny, tough-fibered crime comedy with an unobtrusive edge of drama. With Clint Eastwood as an older, wise thief and Jeff Bridges as his grinning apprentice, the picture is consistently entertaining and interesting."Arthur D. Murphy of Variety called it "an overlong, sometimes hilariously vulgar comedy-drama, about the restaging of a difficult safecracking heist. Debuting director Michael Cimino, who also wrote the rambling, anticlimactic script, obtained superior performances from Eastwood, George Kennedy, Geoffrey Lewis and especially Jeff Bridges, outstanding as a young drifter who joins the gang." Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune gave the film two-and-a-half stars out of four and wrote that "one is left wondering what attracted these actors to a story that leaves every flash of humanity for a protracted robbery, shootout, or some manner of cruelty. Eastwood and Bridges try to build an older-younger brother relationship during the film; it is lost, however, amid all the killings and explosions." Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times called it "a rambunctious and surprisingly touching movie", adding that "writer Michael Cimino, in a potent directorial debut, displays a clear, concise style and very impressive control." Gary Arnold of The Washington Post wrote that the film "takes about an hour to get down to business, and it's such a weirdly kinked-up, trumped-up exercise in formula moviemaking, with indiscriminate borrowings from this film and that film and almost schizoid variations in tone and style, that one begins to wonder if Eastwood's truest fans will find it slightly indigestible too." John Raisbeck of The Monthly Film Bulletin stated, "John Milius' collaborator on the screenplay for Magnum Force , Michael Cimino makes his directorial debut with Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, a film as interestingly idiosyncratic if not as controlled as Milius' Dillinger . The script, also by Cimino, is packed with excellent moments, but somehow the whole never amounts to more than the sum of its parts." Jay Cocks of Time magazine called the film "one of the most ebullient and eccentric diversions around." Leonard Maltin gave the film three out of four stars, describing it as "Colorful, tough melodrama-comedy with good characterizations; Lewis is particularly fine, but Bridges steals the picture."
On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 87% based on reviews from 31 critics. The website's consensus is "This likable buddy/road picture deftly mixes action and comedy, and features excellent work from stars Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges and first-time director Michael Cimino."Thunderbolt has since become a cult film.
As a result of this film and Cimino's TV commercial work, producer Michael Deeley would approach Cimino to direct and co-write the Oscar-winning The Deer Hunter (1978).
Jeff Bridges received the film's only nomination for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.Eastwood's acting performance was noted by critics to the extent that he himself believed it was Oscar-worthy.
Author Michael Bliss wrote that while Thunderbolt may appear to be a conventional violent action film with Eastwood in the lead role, the film is more like "a meditation on, than a representation of, the male camaraderie theme" using rhetorical devices such as symbols, camerawork, and allusive dialogue to add to that theme.According to Bliss, the film's structural paradigm describes a tripartite series of events: natural order followed by disturbance followed by a restoration of natural order.
Clinton Eastwood Jr. is an American actor, film director, composer, and producer. After achieving success in the Western TV series Rawhide, he rose to international fame with his role as the "Man with No Name" in Italian filmmaker Sergio Leone's "Dollars Trilogy" of Spaghetti Westerns during the mid-1960s, and as antihero cop Harry Callahan in the five Dirty Harry films throughout the 1970s and 1980s. These roles, among others, have made Eastwood an enduring cultural icon of masculinity. His accolades include four Academy Awards, four Golden Globe Awards, three César Awards, and an AFI Life Achievement Award.
The Deer Hunter is a 1978 American epic war drama film co-written and directed by Michael Cimino about a trio of Russian-American steelworkers whose lives were changed forever after fighting in the Vietnam War. The three soldiers are played by Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, and John Savage, with John Cazale, Meryl Streep, and George Dzundza playing supporting roles. The story takes place in Clairton, Pennsylvania, a working-class town on the Monongahela River south of Pittsburgh, and in Vietnam.
The Outlaw Josey Wales is a 1976 American Revisionist Western film set during and after the American Civil War. It was directed by and starred Clint Eastwood, with Chief Dan George, Sondra Locke, Sam Bottoms, and Geraldine Keams. The film tells the story of Josey Wales, a Missouri farmer whose family is murdered by Union militants during the Civil War. Driven to revenge, Wales joins a Confederate guerrilla band and makes a name for himself as a feared gunfighter. After the war, all the fighters in Wales' group except for him surrender to Union officers, but they end up being massacred. Wales becomes an outlaw and is pursued by bounty hunters and Union soldiers as he tries to make a new life for himself.
Michael Cimino was an American filmmaker. He achieved fame as the director of The Deer Hunter (1978), which won the Academy Award for Best Picture, and earned him the Academy Award for Best Director. However, Cimino's reputation was tarnished by his follow-up Heaven's Gate (1980), a critical failure that became one of the biggest box-office bombs of all time.
Magnum Force is a 1973 American action thriller film and the second to feature Clint Eastwood as maverick cop Harry Callahan after the 1971 film Dirty Harry. Ted Post, who also directed Eastwood in the television series Rawhide and the feature film Hang 'Em High, directed this second installment in the Dirty Harry film series. The screenplay was written by John Milius and Michael Cimino. The film score was composed by Lalo Schifrin. This film features early appearances by David Soul, Tim Matheson and Robert Urich. At 124 minutes, it is the longest of the five Dirty Harry films.
Geoffrey Bond Lewis was an American character actor. He appeared in more than 200 films and television shows, and was principally known for his film roles alongside Clint Eastwood and Robert Redford. He typically portrayed villains or quirky characters. He played a bodyguard in the Jean-Claude van Damme film Double Impact.
William Denison McKinney was an American character actor. He played the sadistic mountain man in John Boorman's 1972 film Deliverance and appeared in seven Clint Eastwood films, most notably as Captain Terrill, the commander pursuing the last rebels to "hold out" against surrendering to the Union forces in The Outlaw Josey Wales.
High Plains Drifter is a 1973 American Western film directed by Clint Eastwood, written by Ernest Tidyman, and produced by Robert Daley for The Malpaso Company and Universal Pictures. The film stars Eastwood as a mysterious stranger who metes out justice in a corrupt frontier mining town. The film was influenced by the work of Eastwood's two major collaborators, film directors Sergio Leone and Don Siegel. In addition to Eastwood, the film also co-stars Verna Bloom, Mariana Hill, Mitchell Ryan, Jack Ging, and Stefan Gierasch.
Every Which Way but Loose is a 1978 American action comedy film released by Warner Bros., produced by Robert Daley and directed by James Fargo. It stars Clint Eastwood in an uncharacteristic and offbeat comedy role as Philo Beddoe, a trucker and bare-knuckle brawler roaming the American West in search of a lost love while accompanied by his brother/manager, Orville, and his pet orangutan, Clyde. In the process, Philo manages to cross a motley assortment of characters, including a pair of police officers and an entire motorcycle gang, who end up pursuing him for revenge.
The Gauntlet is a 1977 American action thriller film directed by Clint Eastwood, who stars alongside Sondra Locke. The film's supporting cast includes Pat Hingle, William Prince, Bill McKinney, and Mara Corday. Eastwood plays a down-and-out cop who falls in love with a prostitute (Locke) whom he is assigned to escort from Las Vegas to Phoenix in order for her to testify against the mob.
The Eiger Sanction is a 1975 American action thriller film directed by and starring Clint Eastwood. Based on the 1972 novel The Eiger Sanction by Trevanian, the film is about an art history professor, mountain climber, and former assassin once employed by a secret United States government agency, who is blackmailed into returning to his deadly profession and do one more "sanction", a euphemism for killing. He agrees to join an international climbing team in Switzerland planning an ascent of the Eiger north face to complete a second sanction to avenge the murder of an old friend. The film was produced by Robert Daley for Eastwood's Malpaso Company, with Richard D. Zanuck and David Brown as executive producers, and co-starred George Kennedy, Vonetta McGee, and Jack Cassidy.
Two Mules for Sister Sara is a 1970 American-Mexican Western film in Panavision directed by Don Siegel and starring Shirley MacLaine set during the French intervention in Mexico (1861–1867). The film was to have been the first in a five-year exclusive association between Universal Pictures and Sanen Productions of Mexico. It was the second of five collaborations between Siegel and Eastwood, following Coogan's Bluff (1968). The collaboration continued with The Beguiled and Dirty Harry and finally Escape from Alcatraz (1979).
Clint Eastwood is an American film actor, director, producer, and composer. He has appeared in over 60 films. His career has spanned 60 years and began with small uncredited film roles and television appearances. Eastwood has acted in multiple television series, including the eight-season series Rawhide (1959–1965). Although he appeared in several earlier films, his breakout film role was as the Man with No Name in the Sergio Leone–directed Dollars Trilogy: A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965), and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966). In 1971, Eastwood made his directorial debut with Play Misty for Me. Also that year, he starred as San Francisco police inspector Harry Callahan in the eponymous Dirty Harry. The film received critical acclaim, and spawned four more films: Magnum Force (1973), The Enforcer (1976), Sudden Impact (1983), and The Dead Pool (1988).
Clint Eastwood was born May 31, 1930 in San Francisco, California to Clinton Eastwood Sr. and Margaret Ruth.
Frank Walter Stanley was an American cinematographer. He is best known for four Clint Eastwood films in a row: Breezy (1973), Magnum Force (1973), Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974) and The Eiger Sanction (1975). During the filming of The Eiger Sanction, shot in Switzerland, which required a great deal of precarious mountain-climbing cinematography, Stanley fell during the shoot but survived. He used a wheelchair for some time and was taken out of action. Stanley, who later managed to complete filming after a delay under pressure from an unsympathetic Clint Eastwood, would later blame Eastwood for the accident due to a lack of preparation, describing him both as a director and an actor as "a very impatient man who doesn't really plan his pictures or do any homework. He figures he can go right in and sail through these things". Stanley was never hired by Eastwood or Malpaso Productions again. Bruce Surtees was Eastwood's regular cinematographer before and after this period, on a total of twelve films.
Clint Eastwood has had numerous casual and serious relationships of varying length and intensity over his life, many of which overlapped. Shortly after he met future wife Maggie Johnson on a blind date in 1953, Eastwood had an affair that resulted in a daughter, Laurie, who was adopted by Clyde and Helen Warren of Seattle. Although the identity of Laurie's biological mother is not publicly known, biographer Patrick McGilligan said she belonged to a Seattle theatre group Eastwood participated in. Eastwood continued having affairs while married to Johnson, including a 1959 to 1973 liaison with stuntwoman Roxanne Tunis that produced a daughter, Kimber.
Malpaso Creek is a small, coastal stream 5 miles (8.0 km) south of Carmel in Monterey County, California, United States. It is generally regarded as the northern border of Big Sur in central coastal California.
Six Bridges to Cross or 6 Bridges to Cross is a 1955 American film noir crime film directed by Joseph Pevney and starring Tony Curtis, George Nader and Julie Adams. Six Bridges to Cross is based upon the famous 1950 Great Brink's Robbery of Boston, Massachusetts in which the thieves made off with roughly $2.5 million.
The following is a list of unproduced Michael Cimino projects in roughly chronological order. During his long career, American film director Michael Cimino has worked on a number of projects which never progressed beyond the pre-production stage under his direction. Some of these productions fell in development hell or were cancelled.
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