Movie of the Week: ‘Thunderbolt and Lightfoot’

Jeff Bridges just celebrated his 72nd birthday on Dec. 4, so we wanted to feature a Bridges film for our Movie of the Week!   Well, Jeff earned his 2nd Oscar nomination – Best Supporting Actor – for his role as Clint Eastwood’s 24-year-old sidekick in the bank robbery, road-trip, comedy, drama…”Thunderbolt and Lightfoot”.

“Thunderbolt and Lightfoot” (1974) – “Just the good ol’ boys.  Never meanin’ no harm.  Beats all you never saw.  Been in trouble with the law, since the day they was born.” 

Okay, Thunderbolt (Eastwood) and Lightfoot (Jeff Bridges) aren’t Bo and Luke Duke, but Waylon Jennings’ “The Dukes of Hazzard” theme song broadly fits.  In an initial setting that resembles almost any scene in Terrence Malick’s “Days of Heaven” (1978), these two meet outside a church.  Thunderbolt, a preacher by trade, finishes a sermon and dodges gunfire, when Lightfoot drives up in a stolen white Trans-Am. 

He dodges gunfire??

Lightfoot (Jeff Bridges) and Thunderbolt (Clint Eastwood)

Anyway, their travels involve convenient – but sometimes necessary – hijinks that eventually leads to an attempted bank robbery with two other shady characters (George Kennedy and Geoffrey Lewis). 

“Ocean’s Eleven” (2001) tenders a considerably more elaborate, state-of-the-art game plan, but like most amusing buddy pictures, this film’s treasure rests with the journey, not the destination.  Eastwood – admittedly – doesn’t stretch his acting muscles too much, as Bridges – who earned an Oscar nomination as this happy-go-lucky loose cannon – plays off his elder costar.  Director Michael Cimino’s first feature includes lots of lowbrow humor, car crashes and profanities, and Catherine Bach (a.k.a. Daisy Duke) makes a brief appearance.  See, there is a connection.

⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Written and directed by: Michael Cimino

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Jeff Bridges, Geoffrey Lewis, Gary Busey, and Catherine Bach

Rated: R

Runtime: 115 minutes

Image credits: United Artists

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