Sunday, October 28, 2007

No. 10 - Thunderbolt and Lightfoot

Michael Cimino's debut film is not just a great caper but it's also a perfect example of the buddy genre that was so prevalent in the 70's (see The Sting and Scarecrow from 1973).

Clint Eastwood is at his laconic best as a mysterious man known as the Thunderbolt. Jeff Bridges earned an Oscar nomination as Lightfoot, a carefree young man who enjoys stealing cars for fun. When these two meet up, they decide to knock off a bank.

What makes this film so special is not just the chemistry between Eastwood and Bridges, but also Cimino's affinity for nature on an epic scale. Filmed in Montana, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot captures the grandeur of the American landscape, with mountain ranges, unspoiled lakes and endless rolling plains.

There is also an affinity for the dropouts and eccentrics of society, people who are often ignored by Hollywood filmmakers. Eastwood would return to this sort of off-the-interstate milieu in Bronco Billy and Honkytonk Man, while Cimino brought his genuine love of grandiose natural mountain settings and respect for blue collar men to his next film, The Deer Hunter.

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