The Painter and the Thief
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"Major Charles Rane has come home to war" A Vietnam vet returns home after years of capture a hero but a home invasion leaves his life destroyed & his hand mangled. Hellbent on revenge.
Terribly boring film. I can't believe the high ratings it received. The opening is depressing the middle is very slow and the action scenes are difficult to believe. Thank God for fast forward.
In 1973, Major Charles Rane (William Devane)returns home to San Antonio with Sergeant Johnny Vohden (Tommy Lee Jones), and two other soldiers, after spending seven years as a POW in Hanoi. He finds a home very different from the one he left when he meets his wife Janet, his son Mark, and local policeman Cliff, waiting to drive him home. Rane soon realizes that his son does not remember him, and that Cliff seems overly familiar with Janet and Mark. Janet admits that she has become engaged to Cliff and has no plans to break it off, despite still having feelings for Rane. Rane stoically accepts this, but privately reacts by self-imposing the same institutionalized daily regime he had in captivity. The town is intent on giving Rane a hero's homecoming, and at a grand celebration, he is presented with a red Cadillac and 2,555 silver dollars – one for every day he was a captive plus one for luck – by the 'Texas belle' Linda Forchet (Linda Haynes), who has worn his ID bracelet since he left. Shortly after, Cliff attempts to make peace with Rane; the latter, however, seems resigned to losing his wife, but he is determined not to lose his son and makes efforts to build a relationship. Linda spots Rane in his new Cadillac at a gas station and invites him to have a drink at the bar where she works. She makes advances toward him, but Rane is emotionally distant and perhaps even unable to connect with anyone. When Rane next returns home, four border outlaws are waiting for him: "The Texan", "Automatic Slim", "T Bird" and "Melio". They demand the silver dollars and torture Rane to get them. Rane is totally unresponsive, having flashbacks to his torture in Hanoi as they beat him. The gang resorts to drastic measures and shoves Rane's hand down a garbage disposal, mangling it. At this point Janet and Mark return, and are immediately taken hostage. Rane lies with a mangled arm on the kitchen floor while his son finds and hands over the silver dollars. The gang shoots all three of them, leaving them for dead. Rane survives but his wife and son do not.
Several weeks later, Rane is convalescing in a hospital where Linda and Vohden visit him separately. Vohden has signed on for another ten years in the Airborne Division, due to his uncertainty as to what else to do with his life. Although he gives no details to the police, Rane has ideas regarding the identities of his attackers and prepares to take vengeance. His first move upon discharge is to saw down a double-barreled shotgun and sharpen the prosthetic hook which has replaced his right hand...
Upon release, Rolling Thunder received praise for its action sequences, atmosphere, direction, music and cast performances, but was criticized for its pace and violent climax. Gary Arnold of The Washington Post wrote in his review, "Flynn's crisp, laconic direction and evocative use of Southern Texas locations transform Rolling Thunder, now at area theaters, into a more distinctive exploitation movie than it deserves to be." Vincent Canby of The New York Times noted that "the movie has some good things, but in the way it has been directed by John Flynn it moves so easily and sort of foolishly toward its violent climax, that all the tension within the main character Charlie has long since escaped the film." A review in Variety noted, "Its excellent cast performs well, but not well enough; Paul Schrader's story is strong, but not strong enough; and the violence will be too much for some and not enough for others. In sum it neither rolls nor thunders, but with luck, it might just stumble on to a portion of the audience that hailed Schrader's 'Taxi Driver.'" Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune gave the film three stars out of four and wrote that "what I like about 'Rolling Thunder' is not the predictable orgy of violence that concludes the picture, but what goes on before—the return of the veteran to his hometown and disjointed family. ... I liked its portrayal of Devane's state of mind. The emotional violence he suffers is more stunning than any physical torture."
I have never heard of "Rolling Thunder" before, but it´s on Quentin Tarantino´s top list and he named his distributing company after this film title. I liked this talky revenge flick. "Rolling Thunder" was released in 1977 in United States. Upon release, the film received generally positive reviews from critics. In addition to its critical success, the film was also a box office success with an estimated revenue of $130 million against its $5 million production budget. The film was originally produced and scheduled for release by 20th Century Fox; it was prominently featured in their 1977 exhibitors' guide. However, the studio brass were greatly disturbed by the violence in the finished film, and the decision was made to sell it off to American International Pictures. "Rolling Thunder" is a grindhouse revenge film with a lot of dialogue and a depth you normally don´t get in these sort of films. The focus is on Vietnam veterans who tries to readjust themselves in a 'normal' world, but fails to do so. William Devane and Tommy Lee Jones are both solid in their roles and I do like the script and the ending with the final bloody confrontation. I define "Rolling Thunder" as a fine piece of grindhouse film.
Trivia: In the book "Schrader On Schrader" Paul Schrader who co-wrote the movie complains how the studio completely twisted his original version of the story. He wrote it as a critique of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, and fascistic and racist attitudes in America. Rane was originally written as a white trash racist, with many similarities to Schrader's more famous character Travis Bickle (the main character of Taxi Driver (1976)). In this version, Rane becomes a war hero without ever having fired a gun, and comes home to confront the Texas Mexican community. Rane's racist upbringing and hatred that grew in him in Vietnam, slowly come out. This version ends with Rane's indiscriminate slaughter of Mexicans, which was meant as a metaphor for Vietnam. Schrader concludes with a claim that he basically wrote a film about fascism, and the studio made a fascist film.
The famous scene where Rane's hand is put into garbage disposal was originally lot more graphic. There was originally shot of his hand getting destroyed. Scene was filmed with fake hand and lamb shank which made it look very realistic. When movie was previewed, audience members reacted very strongly on that scene. According to writer Heywood Gould; "One woman fainted, another person ran into the lobby and demanded his money back, and another guy was so freaked out, that he entered in his car in the parking lot, and crashed into another car". After that preview, the shot of Rane's hand inside the disposal was cut from the movie.
These soldiers having survived horrors of years long imprisonment surely finally finished their war, with one exception that the enemy was behind the lines, at home. This movie deftly balances between being an all-out exploitative movie and serious drama concerning Vietnam war veterans and POW survivors in particular.
Fascinating and sweeping mockumentary offers some rarely seen footage of the famous tour with lots of co-stars performing and/or being interviewed; however, the playful and often undetectable addition of fictitous elements are of dubious merit.
What a great movie, no need for hollywood idiots to remake this one starring Vin Diesel or the Rock
I came to my current love of this one via a rather circuitous route, in that I rented it ages ago based on Quentin Tarantino mentioning it in an interview, and I recall friends and I sorta making excuses for it being okay, but low budget, etc. Now in my middle age and much more open to the world of cinema, warts and all, this stands above a lot of other fare of the time for sheer energy and creativity.
Well worth a look if you haven't had the chance.
Slow burning revenge movie with some stark violence and an unsympathetic viewpoint. One of Tarrantino's faves and worth tracking down
Takes FOREVER to get going. Decent but unspectacular.
Rolling Thunder is an amazing film. It is about Major Charles Rane comes back from the war and is given a hero's welcome. William Devane and Tommy Lee Jones give excellent performances. The screenplay is well written. John Flynn did a great job directing this movie. I enjoyed watching this motion picture because of the action and drama.