Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974) was the debut feature of the 70's director Michael Cimino
who would later gain acclaim for The Deer Hunter
and notoriety for the eye-watering flop of Heaven's Gate
Film is a road/buddies/crime movie set in the north-west of the USA, a location that is used to beautiful effect in many scenes of this well-photographed movie. Starring Clint Eastwood (whose production company financed the film, Eastwood became involved after Cimino impressed him working on the script for the Dirty Harry sequel, Magnum Force) as Thunderbolt - a thief on the run from his ex-partners (George Kennedy and Geoffrey Lewis), who meets up from a young drifter, Lightfoot played by Jeff Bridges. After a series of hi-jinks, the duo strike up a friendship, although Bridges is heavily in awe of the laconic and experienced Eastwood.
Eventually Kennedy and Lewis track down the pair, but Eastwood manages to talk them out of killing them. An uneasy truce develops and Bridges raise the idea of the four men robbing a bank - the very same government vault that the three older men emptied all those years ago. After all no-one expects lightning to strike twice.
What results is a damn fine movie, with a tight, funny script and well-drawn characters. Eastwood mostly plays his usual moody persona albeit with a lighter heart hear and there, but then he is one of the greats, and the sense of regret and compassion shown as the films winds to its conclusion is conveyed succinctly. Lewis does well with his dim-witted thief, earning the audience's sympathies, and Kennedy plays his sadistic war veteran with glee. Bridges is also good playing the young loony kid in love with the world who's only dream is to own a red Cadillac. The faint homoerotic undertones of his relationship with Eastwood are enhanced when Bridges has to drag up as part of the heist execution. Bridges was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor oscar for his role
There are also a host of great moments in the movie such as, the driver with rabbits in his trunk and the re-occurring motif of an ice-cream van. And wait for the oft-parodied moment near the end where the location of the missing money Eastwood and friends fell out over is revealed. Recommended as another movie worth staying-up for when it's on late night tv reruns.