Thunderbolt and Lightfoot

1974

Thunderbolt and Lightfoot

Critics Consensus

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.

90%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 29

74%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 8,768

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Movie Info

As much an eccentric character study as a road movie, Michael Cimino's directorial debut follows the adventures of a quartet of misfits in their life of crime. Retired thief Thunderbolt (Clint Eastwood) and sweet drifter Lightfoot (Jeff Bridges) meet cute when Thunderbolt jumps into Lightfoot's stolen car to escape a gunman. The pair embarks on an oddball journey to get Thunderbolt's loot from an old robbery before his former associates, the sadistic Red (George Kennedy) and cretinous Goody (Geoffrey Lewis), get to it first, but all four are too late; the one-room schoolhouse hiding place has apparently vanished. So instead, the four play house and work legit jobs while they plot to rob the same place Thunderbolt and Red hit before. Although the plan goes awry, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot discover that they may still have succeeded-or so they think. As the easy-going mediator between the two, Eastwood's Thunderbolt was a move away from his tough cop-westerner image; his audience accepted this then-atypical performance enough to turn Thunderbolt and Lightfoot into a moderate hit. Bridges received his second Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination, but Cimino turned down a subsequent deal with Eastwood, moving instead to his artistic peak with The Deer Hunter (1978) and career nadir with Heaven's Gate (1980).

Cast

Critic Reviews for Thunderbolt and Lightfoot

All Critics (29) | Top Critics (5) | Fresh (26) | Rotten (3)

  • ...a criminals-on-the-road movie that shifts toward a dazzlingly elaborate and painfully realistic heist tale.

    April 14, 2020 | Full Review…
  • Debuting director Michael Cimino obtains superior performances from Clint Eastwood, George Kennedy, Geoffrey Lewis and especially Jeff Bridges.

    May 6, 2008 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • The likeable result, made for and with the personnel of Eastwood's Malpaso Company, looks like a throwaway Eastwood vehicle.

    June 24, 2006 | Full Review…
    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • The Eastwood team has pulled off a modest enjoyable winner.

    May 9, 2005 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…
  • Cimino was already making an aesthetic of inarticulateness, and the film is by turns surly, incoherent, and provocatively mysterious.

    January 1, 2000 | Full Review…
  • A great buddy heist movie that gets pulled down by some angry interlopers.

    January 27, 2020 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Thunderbolt and Lightfoot

  • Aug 02, 2019
    It starts as a sort of lighthearted character study that tips it's hat to the good-old-boys vibe ("aw shucks, ma'am, ah didn't mean anythin' by whut ah said!"), morphs into an "A-murica shore is be-yew-ti-ful country!" road trip, that finally settles into the heist film it means to be. Although Michael Cimino gambles with losing your interest by taking his sweet time, the gamble pays off by the dramatic ending. Clint, Bridges, and Kennedy are all up to par.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Oct 19, 2010
    A smashing directorial debut for Michael Cimino who also wrote the spirited screenplay of this tough extremely enjoyable crime melodrama. Clint Eastwood and a young Jeff Bridges make a dynamite team, they have a breezy chemistry together. Clint Eastwood delivers a cool superlative performance as a prairie preacher and ex-veteran thief, John "Thunderbolt" Doherty, a member of an earlier heist where the money was hidden and never recovered, he has been hiding out from his former partners. Eastwood meets a fun-loving drifter named "Lightfoot" who is game for anything, Jeff Bridges gives a luminous scene-stealing performance that earned him his first Oscar nomination, Bridges is at his quirky best here. They strike-up a friendship and decide to pull a heist, with the help of two previous associates, played superbly by a menacing George Kennedy as Red Leary, and a very funny Geoffery Lewis as Eddie Goody, special kudos must go to George Kennedy performance, his villainous character is one of the meanest S.O.B. in screen history. Well-choreographed action and stunningly beautiful cinematography by Frank Stanley. Exquisite supporting performances by Gary Busey, Catherine Bach, Dub Taylor; and a standout turn by legendary character actor Bill McKinney. A well-crafted exciting film with equal moments of hilarity and pathos. Highly Recommended.
    Danny R Super Reviewer
  • Apr 05, 2009
    Outstandingly average.
    Marcus W Super Reviewer
  • Oct 23, 2007
    Great, great movie. Eastwood and Bridges in fine form. Interesting script, with some depressing moments and a moving ending. Watch out for the naked woman too!
    A B Super Reviewer

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