'Thunderbolt and Lightfoot' - High-Def Digest Review - High-Def Digest Forums
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Old 03-03-2014, 12:43 PM
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Default 'Thunderbolt and Lightfoot' - High-Def Digest Review

Shannon has reviewed 'Thunderbolt and Lightfoot'. He says the audio and video are enough of an upgrade to warrant a spot in your collection Recommended (high recommended, if you're an Eastwood or Bridges fan).

Full review here:
http://bluray.highdefdigest.com/1086...lightfoot.html
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Old 03-03-2014, 01:22 PM
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I have this in my collection, looks pretty good. Shame that a Clint Eastwood title is deemed not worthy of a general release, so that more people could enjoy it.

Regarding the focus an the homosexual undertones in the commentary, the thought never occurred to me watching the movie. I guess you need some kind of radar for those things and I don't have it.
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Old 03-03-2014, 03:56 PM
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Default Eastwood, Cimino

Thanks for the review, Shannon.

I wouldn't say that the Eastwood character ultimately amounts to a supporting role. Bridges may 'steal' some of the scenes, but Eastwood provides the backbone and, to me, is most in touch (among the actors) with the film's dryly ironic tone and the mood of wry disillusionment and wayward disaffection. In short, he most reflects the worldview that Cimino is projecting in this film. But Eastwood, as a performer, had long given other, more verbal actors space to deliver manic and mesmerizing performances. Indeed, predating Bridges in that regard were Eli Wallach as Tuco Ramirez in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Jessica Walter as Evelyn Draper in Play Misty for Me, and even Andy Robinson as Scorpio in Dirty Harry.

Also, according to Richard Schickel's Clint Eastwood: A Biography (1996), page 300, Cimino had attached to his script's sale the non-negotiable condition that he be allowed to direct the film. So based on Schickel's book (and the author interviewed both Eastwood and Cimino extensively), Eastwood never intended to direct Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, for by agreeing to star in the film, he was also agreeing to accept Cimino as the director.

Last edited by BenShockley; 03-03-2014 at 08:57 PM.
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Old 03-03-2014, 04:20 PM
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I'm really tempted to get this film but damn Twilight, give me a few more supplements.
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Old 03-03-2014, 04:33 PM
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As for the question of whether Lightfoot is gay, that subtext is indeed ambiguous. But what I think is clear is that Lightfoot is 'gay,' meaning that even if he is technically a heterosexual, he is a 'girly man,' a flamboyant, effeminate hippie-type whose androgyny and mannerisms constitute a threat to a reactionary and macho traditionalist such as Red, the George Kennedy character.

In that sense, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot deserves to be bracketed not just with the more popular yet less subversive Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, but also with Bonnie and Clyde and Easy Rider, films where counter-cultural types confront vigilante reactionaries. But even there, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot goes further, by rendering the issue of androgyny more explicit, if also more comic.

Last edited by BenShockley; 03-07-2014 at 02:43 PM.
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Old 03-03-2014, 06:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BenShockley View Post
As for the question of whether Lightfoot is gay, that subtext is indeed ambiguous. But what I think is clear is that Lightfoot is 'gay,' meaning that even if he is technically a heterosexual, he is a 'girly man,' a flamboyant, effeminate hippie-type whose androgyny and mannerisms constitute a threat to a reactionary and macho traditionalist such as Red, the George Kennedy character.

In that sense, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot deserves to be bracketed not just with the more popular yet less subversive Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, but also with Bonnie & Clyde and Easy Rider, films where counter-cultural types confront vigilante reactionaries. But even there, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot goes further, by rendering the issue of androgyny more explicit, if also more comic.
Nice explanation, I agree.
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Old 03-03-2014, 10:46 PM
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By the way, I have heard from a source (an unverified source, so take it or leave it) that in the early 1980s (unless it was the early 1990s; this guy relayed his story in 1999, so I'm relying on a fifteen-year old memory), Cimino spoke at the University of Southern California and said that Eastwood, despite being "America's most 'macho' star," knew exactly what Cimino was up to in terms of toying with sexual expectations and exploring the nature of relationships within tight-knit, exclusively male units. According to my source, who purported to be in the audience as a USC film student, Cimino said that Eastwood encouraged him to push the envelope.

One can doubt the authenticity of my source, but there is also a sense of confirmation when one considers Eastwood's previous film, Magnum Force (Ted Post, 1973), which happened to be the first sequel to Dirty Harry. Magnum Force constituted the conception of 'macho' John Milius, but he was sixty pages into writing the script in late 1972 when he received his first opportunity to direct, that being his own script for Dillinger. Milius asked Eastwood to find someone else to finish the Magnum Force script, and Eastwood turned to Cimino, asking him to set aside rewrites on Thunderbolt and Lightfoot.

Cimino added certain touches, most notably a scene when Harry Callahan and his partner, Early Smith (Felton Perry) are walking into the police department and walk past the quartet of rookie motorcycle policemen. Smith notes that those cops had passed through the academy after him and that "They stick together like flypaper," to the point where "Everybody thought they were queer for each other." Callahan then responds by saying, "Tell ya' something: if the rest of you could shoot like them, I wouldn't care if the whole damn department was queer."

That line (maybe that scene in general) came courtesy of Cimino, and Callahan's statement is surprisingly progressive—even radical—for 1973. Think about it: we're just now, forty years later, reaching the point where gay male athletes can be 'out of the closet' within team contexts. Courtesy of Cimino, with Eastwood's encouragement and approval, Callahan was thus four decades ahead of the curve. That scene from Magnum Force hence lends credence to the notion that the sexual subtexts in Thunderbolt and Lightfoot were not accidental and that Cimino furthered them with Eastwood's endorsement.

(And if you haven't viewed Magnum Force recently, go back and see that scene again [it comes immediately after the drug store shootout], in wide-screen. It's a real hoot.)

Now, again, that's not to say that Lightfoot is necessary a furtive homosexual; that question is more abstract and frankly unanswerable. But through the Jeff Bridges character, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot clearly blurs gender norms and raises questions of sexual identity within the context of heterosexual dissolution, or the absence of satisfying heterosexual relationships altogether. And as in Magnum Force, the Eastwood figure (Thunderbolt) does not mind Lightfoot's flirtations with androgyny or alternative sexual identities. Conversely, even if they're just in jest, just a tease, Red (George Kennedy) finds Lightfoot's mannerisms and gender instability to be infuriating. In a sense, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot is about the counterculture, the counter to the counterculture, and a sort of 'nowhere man' (Eastwood's Thunderbolt) caught in the middle. But of course, the film's comic, rollicking tone and eccentric, diversionary manner render these social explorations unpretentious and somewhat elusive.

Still, the scene and line from Magnum Force suggest that while Lightfoot may or may not have been gay, Cimino (and even Eastwood) were interested in toying with matters that, in the realm of mainstream commercial cinema, remained quite taboo.

Last edited by BenShockley; 03-11-2014 at 02:47 AM.
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Old 03-03-2014, 11:46 PM
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Just going back to a production note in Shannon's review: at the time that Eastwood and his Malpaso Company were looking to move Thunderbolt and Lightfoot into production (pre-production probably began in the summer of 1973, for a shoot that fall), Eastwood had only made two movies with Warner Brothers, Dirty Harry (1971) and Magnum Force (1973), the latter of which concluded shooting in the late spring or early summer of 1973, in anticipation of a Christmas release. Only in the years ahead would Eastwood's relationship with Warner Brothers become nearly exclusive, for at the time, the star was headquartered at Universal, where he had made seven films (all via Malpaso) over the previous six years. (The seventh of which was Breezy, starring William Holden, which Eastwood directed in early 1973, after shooting High Plains Drifter, which he also directed, in the late summer and fall of 1972. Man, Eastwood was working around the clock in those days, releasing seven titles from 1971-1973, three of which he directed.)

But since Eastwood was dissatisfied with Universal's promotion of his quirkier films, he indeed took Thunderbolt and Lightfoot to Warners, whose promotion had helped Dirty Harry attain blockbuster status. Incredibly, Warners turned down the leading box office star in the country and the world, so then Eastwood turned to United Artists, with whom he'd made his first American vehicle, Hang 'Em High (1968), also via Malpaso, and which distributed the three Sergio Leone Westerns in America.

I didn't know that Eastwood was planning on making another film at United Artists after Thunderbolt and Lightfoot. That second movie must have either been The Eiger Sanction (1975), which Eastwood would make at Universal to fulfill his contract there, or a planned project that he ultimately abandoned.
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Old 03-04-2014, 12:32 PM
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Of note, according to the Schickel book that I cited earlier, when United Artists agreed to finance Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, the studio also optioned an early script for what would become Cimino's infamous Heaven's Gate.
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Old 08-20-2014, 03:51 AM
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Does anyone know why George Kennedy was the final actor listed in the credits? Already recognized as a major actor, had a major role in T&L, yet all other actors in the film came before him in the credits.
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