Connect with us

Clint Eastwood

Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (4K UHD Review)

Clint Eastwood was one of the biggest global box office draws during the Seventies and the Eighties, but at the time, he never quite got enough credit for his willingness to explore different kinds of material. Even when he stayed within familiar genres, he freely pushed the envelope of his own persona; the likes of Ben Shockley in The Gauntlet and Wes Block in Tightrope couldn’t possibly have been farther removed from his signature character of “Dirty” Harry Calahan. Yet while he was frequently associated with cop movies and Westerns, he never let himself get limited by genre. From The Beguiled to Paint Your Wagon to Bronco Billy and Honkytonk Man, he wasn’t quite as easy to pin down as some people thought that he was. While he never really looked back after making his auspicious directorial debut with Play Misty for Me, he was still willing to take a chance on working with other filmmakers, arguably never more so than when he gave the young writer/director Michael Cimino an opportunity to make his feature film debut with Thunderbolt and Lightfoot.
Thunderbolt and Lightfoot doesn’t fit into any simple genre classifications at all—it’s a buddy film, a caper flick, a road movie, a warped slice of Americana, and much more. It even offers a signature bank heist at the end of an Oerlikon 20 mm cannon. Yet while it’s all of those things, it’s also none of those things, because Cimino marched to the beat of his own drum all throughout his career (for good or for ill), and Thunderbolt and Lightfoot is no exception. He loaded the film with a variety of distinctive character actors to help give it a uniquely offbeat flavor: George Kennedy, Geoffrey Lewis, Bill McKinney, Burton Gilliam, Gary Busey, Vic Tayback, Jack Dodson, and more. McKinney looks like he drove in straight off the set of Deliverance (he’s credited simply as “Crazy Driver”), providing an unforgettable moment that has to be seen to be believed. Yet it’s Dub Taylor in a glorified cameo as a gas station attendant who seems to hammer home the real state of the American Dream in Cimino’s vision of the world. When Lightfoot asks him how business has been going, that sets the man off:
“In this business, you’re always one step away from bankruptcy. Funny money, credit, speculation… Somewhere in this country’s a little ol’ lady with $79.25. The five cents is a buffalo nickel. If she cashes in her investment, whole thing’ll collapse. General Motors, the Pentagon, the two-party system and the whole shebang. We’re all running downhill. Gotta’ keep running faster or we’ll fall down.”
In lesser hands, this rant might have been the central theme of Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, but for Cimino, it just provided some extra texture. The sequence doesn’t really have any deeper meaning than the baffling contents of the trunk in McKinney’s 1973 Plymouth Fury. Cimino’s real interest was the relationship between the aging Thunderbolt (Eastwood) and the younger Lightfoot (Jeff Bridges). Thunderbolt is a retired bank robber who’s been hiding out from members of his former gang, and he ends up revitalized after his chance encounter with the drifter Lightfoot. Exactly how Thunderbolt receives that injection of new life is what sets Thunderbolt and Lightfoot apart from the rest of the pack.
Much has been made of the gay subtext in Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, but there’s a fine line between text and subtext, and that line can be blurred. In the case of films like A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, there’s no line whatsoever—subtext has become overt text. With Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, the line may be there, but it’s sometimes difficult to distinguish given how openly Cimino treats the theme. Critic and editor Peter Biskind referred to it as “the barely submerged homosexual element in the male friendship formula,” and that’s much closer to the mark. Yet if it’s submerged at all, it’s still clearly visible beneath the surface.
Thunderbolt and Lightfoot opens with the masculine version of a meet-cute between the title characters, and for the rest of the film, women are at best incidental to their growing relationship. That’s not necessarily unusual for a Seventies buddy movie, since women were frequently little more than passing objects for the men’s affections. The difference here is that there’s no real affection for women whatsoever. Thunderbolt and Lightfoot does include some fleeting female frontal nudity, and it even offers future The Dukes of Hazzard pinup Catherine Bach in a bit part, but all of these women are still incidental to the nature of the masculine affection on display throughout the film. When men do turn their eyes toward the ladies, Cimino treats them scornfully (Biskind called it a “frank and undisguised contempt for heterosexuality.”)
Significantly, despite the female nudity and the presence of nominal eye candy like Bach, it’s not the women in Thunderbolt and Lightfoot who are objectified. Eastwood is photographed lovingly while he’s given ample opportunity to take off his shirt, but it’s really Bridges who is the sex object here, and not in a masculine sense of the term. He’s dressed far more flamboyantly than everyone else, and even ends up in drag during the fateful bank heist. (It’s not accidental that he winds up introducing some color into Eastwoods’s wardrobe.) When Lightfoot first appears, he’s wearing a tight pair of leather pants, with his arms swinging widely as he walks. He sits on the ground at one point with his legs spread open while Thunderbolt gazes at him from the side of the frame. If that wasn’t obvious enough, he’s also filmed from behind while holding a stick between his legs, once again with Thunderbolt framed to one side facing him. Just in case all of that was still too subtle, Lightfoot later basically deep throats an ice cream cone while Thunderbolt is watching. There’s text, then there’s subtext, and then there’s Jeff Bridges fellating ice cream.
All of this is deeply offensive to Thunderbolt’s old gang member Red Leary (Kennedy), and it culminates with Lightfoot taking a beating at Leary’s hands while still wearing drag. It’s a thinly veiled reference to the kinds of hate crimes that were prevalent at the time (and sadly still haven’t been completely eliminated today). Viewers of Thunderbolt and Lightfoot may or may not catch all of the inferences throughout the film, but they definitely didn’t escape Leary’s attention. Cimino’s own sympathies are made clear by the fact that Leary suffers the single most disturbing fate of any character in the entire film—the payback for his sins goes far beyond an eye for an eye.
Yet that beating still has its consequences, leading to the touching final scenes between Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, beautifully acted by Bridges. Ultimately, the affection between the two characters (however you choose to read it) is the single most affecting element of Thunderbolt and Lightfoot. Everything else—the car chases, the cannon, the rabbits, and even the ice cream cone—is extraneous to the heart and soul of their relationship, and that’s the heart and soul of the film. Eastwood wasn’t afraid to play this kind of part, and he also wasn’t afraid to take a chance on a newcomer like Cimino, so the world was gifted with one of the most memorable films of the Seventies in Thunderbolt and Lightfoot.
Cinematographer Frank Stanley shot Thunderbolt and Lightfoot on 35 mm film using Panavision cameras with spherical lenses, framed at 2.39:1 for its theatrical release. This version uses a new master based on the previous 4K scan of the original camera negative, graded for High Dynamic Range in both Dolby Vision and HDR10. There’s no other information available regarding any restoration work that was performed, but the results speak for themselves. The image is immaculately clean, with no signs of age-related damage whatsoever. (There’s a hair at the bottom of the frame in a single shot, but it’s a moment where most viewers will be looking elsewhere.) There are some light elliptical blemishes that appear in a handful of shots, but those artifacts have always been present—they’re specks of some sort that appear horizontally stretched when the anamorphic image is unsqueezed. Detail is nicely resolved, the grain appears smooth, and the encode runs at a decent bitrate throughout.
The HDR grade offers colors that are rich without being oversaturated, although flesh tones and the color of the sky can vary a bit from shot to shot. The flesh tones look natural for most of the film, but they do veer a little ruddy at times. The sky sometimes changes from teal to deep blue in different shots during the same scenes. However, those inconsistencies appear to be inherent to the original cinematography. When comparing the UHD to the 2014 Blu-ray from Twilight Time (which used a different master), the variances are still present. The flesh tones are probably intentional, with Stanley giving them a more sunburnt look during some of the hottest daylight scenes. The sky is usually the bluest in shots with the camera at ground level looking up towards the clouds, so it’s likely the result of different filters that he used for those angles. In any event, this is a beautiful 4K presentation of Thunderbolt and Lightfoot that captures all of its eccentricities intact.
Audio is offered in English 2.0 mono and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, with optional English subtitles. The 5.1 version isn’t a true remix, but instead just applies some processing to provide synthesized channel separation, as well as a bit of bass sweetening. The latter is evident in the score by Dee Barton and especially with the Paul Williams title song Where Do I Go from Here, but it’s not as noticeable elsewhere. The mono track still sounds more robust overall, even after being decoded to the center channel only, so it’s probably the best option between the two—although your own mileage may vary.
Kino Lorber’s 4K Ultra HD release of Thunderbolt and Lightfoot is a two-disc set that includes a Blu-ray with a remastered 1080p copy of the film. The insert is reversible, featuring alternate theatrical poster artwork on each side, and there’s also a slipcover that uses a third piece of theatrical artwork. (Surely even the harshest of cover art critics will find something to appreciate here.) The following extras are included:

Clint Eastwood

Mystic River: Why Clint Eastwood’s Best Movie Still Holds Up Today

A filmmaker of Clint Eastwood‘s caliber is going to have a filmography full of gems. Primarily known for his work in Westerns, biopics, and military dramas, every so often, Eastwood steps outside his comfort zone and delivers in a genre that would seem completely unexpected on paper. That happened in 2003 with Mystic River, a neo-noir murder mystery drama that seems a bit forgotten or overlooked, even though it was a financial success and earned six Academy Award nominations. It represents Eastwood at his very best, breathing vivid life into complex characters as he examines a plethora of themes that range from loyalty, friendship, revenge, and, ultimately, forgiveness.

Mystic River is based on the 2001 novel of the same name by Dennis Lehane, and it follows the lives of three childhood friends, Jimmy Markum (Sean Penn), Sean Devine (Kevin Bacon), and Dave Boyle (Tim Robbins), living in Charlestown, Boston in 1975. Dave is kidnapped by two men claiming to be police officers, and he’s sexually abused by them over a four-day period until he escapes. The traumatic event shapes the three friends, and they ultimately lead very different lives twenty-five years later.

Jimmy is an ex-con that now owns a convenience store in the neighborhood, Sean works for the Massachusetts State Police as a detective, and Dave is your everyday blue-collar worker that still lives with the trauma of being abducted and raped. Their lives are forced together once again through tragedy when Jimmy’s daughter Katie (Emmy Rossum) is found murdered, and friendship is tested when all signs point to Dave being the murderer.
Mystic River Is a Departure From Clint Eastwood’s Other Work

Sean Penn held back by cops in Mystic RiverWarner Bros.

Eastwood tackles the material in Mystic River with a sure and confident hand. It also represents a unique departure from some of his other films. Much of the action takes place under the cover of darkness, and Eastwood is able to find beauty in that darkness. The filmmaker focuses on a character’s eyes or the gleam of a weapon, for instance, as darkness permeates most of the scene.

For the scenes that take place during the day, the filmmaker opts for tight close-ups that linger over the emotions of his impressive cast. There is something uncomfortably intimate about Mystic River, and that has much to do with the subject matter. None of this story is particularly easy to digest, and Eastwood adds to that discomfort with his choices to frame scenes in such a way that’s almost intrusive. The audience feels a growing sense of dread and tension as more of the story unfolds.
Using Lehane’s novel and Brian Helgeland’s screenplay as a blueprint, Eastwood profoundly explores generational trauma and how the sins of the past can leave a permanent mark on our present. Even though the abuse only happened to Dave, the effects of the event leave a mark on all three friends, with Dave being the primary victim and the others feeling a sense of survivor’s guilt for not being subjected to it themselves.
The ordeal forever changes their union because they’re never quite able to look at each other the same way again, as each friend deals with the trauma differently. Jimmy is stunned by the act of abuse but can’t give Dave the support he needs, which then bleeds into their present when Jimmy begins to suspect that Dave had something to do with his daughter’s murder. He doesn’t want to consider that his friend would do something like this because of the trauma he endured as a child, but as evidence mounts against him, Jimmy has to decide if friendship and loyalty overshadow his need for vigilante justice. The story is rich with so many complexities that make it some of Eastwood’s most compelling work as a filmmaker.

Eastwood also takes his time with the story and lets it unfold as it should. Mystic River is very nuanced, and he knows he’s dealing with heartbreaking subject matter that requires patience and respect. The story is grounded in so much reality that Eastwood seems keenly aware that a viewer might be an actual victim of this kind of abuse themselves, so he delicately approaches the topic and gives it the emotional weight it deserves.
He also shows the uncomfortable side of abuse where the victim, unfortunately, can be shamed because of the event. Dave becomes an outsider later in his life, even with his close friends, something that sadly comes along with this kind of trauma. Eastwood approaches all of this responsibly and provides a very balanced outlook to all the events transpiring on screen.
Mystic River has become known for its powerhouse performances, and Eastwood pulls the very best from his ensemble cast. While the scenes with the young actors are brief in the beginning, they set the tone of who these people will be twenty-five years later. Dave becomes the outcast because of the event; Jimmy lacks empathy and doesn’t trust authority, while Sean becomes the grounded one of the bunch and a police officer in an attempt to prevent a tragedy like this from ever happening again.

Clint Eastwood Pulls Powerhouse Performances From His Cast

Tim Robbins, Sean Penn, and Kevin Bacon do a great job conveying the unspoken tension between all three of these characters. There is a sense of loyalty, but so much has taken place over the years that it has forced them all to lead very different lives. As a group, they are uniformly excellent. You feel the history between the characters and the bonds that were broken, only to be reopened by a new traumatic event.
On their own, Penn gives the performance of a lifetime as Jimmy, and it’s not a shock that this turn finally earned him his first Academy Award for Best Actor. Penn is a dominant presence in all of his scenes, and there is a sense of uncertainty whenever he’s around because you don’t know exactly what move he will make.

That’s not to say he doesn’t display layers. All of that bravado is broken once he finds out his daughter is murdered. It’s hard to pinpoint a director’s best scene on film, but what Eastwood pulls out of Penn during the “Is that my daughter?” sequence represents some of his very best work as a filmmaker.
Robbins also received an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his work here, representing a much-deserved win. As Dave, Robbins is the tragic and emotional heart of the story. The viewer feels instant empathy for Dave due to what he went through as a child, but you’re also left questioning everything when it seems like Dave could be the one who murdered Katie.
Robbins keeps you on your toes throughout, making you question his innocence while also seeing the tenderness in him as he interacts with his own child, who is just about the age he was when he was abused. As for Bacon, of the three male leads, he gives the most subdued performance, but it suits the character. He’s trying to make everything right and keep it all together. It’s a subtle performance that carries its own emotional weight.

Eastwood also makes the supporting roles worthy of attention. Marcia Gay Harding, as Dave’s wife Celeste, puts in powerful work here that earned her a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination, while Laura Linney more than holds her own with Penn as his second wife, Annabeth. In addition, Laurence Fishburne also fills in as Sgt. Whitey Powers in another excellent part.
Mystic River is a haunting and poetic motion picture that showcases a director laying it all out on the table. Eastwood gives the audience everything he has as a director and pours it out across the screen in a film that is just as powerful twenty years after its initial release.

Continue Reading

Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood’s Most Iconic Non-Western Role Was Only Possible Because Of This Actor


 Clint Eastwood’s role in Dirty Harry is considered one of his most iconic, and the film is a classic in the crime genre.
 Paul Newman initially turned down the role of Harry Callahan in Dirty Harry but recommended Clint Eastwood for the part.
 Newman declined the role due to his liberal beliefs, and Eastwood’s portrayal of Callahan differed from Newman’s perspective, but both respected each other.


Although Clint Eastwood first built his impressive career on Western movies like The Man with No Name franchise and The Outlaw Josey Wales, the actor’s biggest non-Western role in Dirty Harry is one of his most iconic, and it might have never happened without this one actor. Clint Eastwood began acting in the 1950s, and over several decades, became a staple in the Western genre. What makes Eastwood stand out is the fact that he has not only appeared in countless films, but has also directed them himself. Films like Unforgiven and Gran Torino have defined his career. However, Dirty Harry is by far one of Clint Eastwood’s best films.

In 1971, Clint Eastwood starred in the neo-noir action film Dirty Harry. The film, and its adjoining sequels, follow Inspector “Dirty” Harry Callahan, a rugged detective that is on a hunt for a psychopathic serial killer named Scorpio. The Dirty Harry franchise lasted from 1971 to 1988, and has since been considered a classic. In fact, Dirty Harry was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress because of its cultural significance. However, this film might have been vastly different if Clint Eastwood had never been in it, and scarily enough, this definitely could have happened back in 1971.
Paul Newman Rejected Dirty Harry Before Suggesting Clint Eastwood For The Role

Dirty Harry 2

Dirty Harry went through many production challenges before it was actually made, and one of those included casting the iconic detective. In the film’s early stages, the role was offered to actors such as John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, Steve McQueen, and Burt Lancaster. However, for various reasons, including the violence that permeates the film, these actors all declined. For a time, Frank Sinatra was attached to the project, but he also eventually left the production. In reality, Clint Eastwood wasn’t even in the cards for portraying Dirty Harry, but his big break came when Paul Newman was offered and declined the role.

Paul Newman, like many amazing actors before him, was offered the role of Harry Callahan, but ultimately said no. However, what makes his refusal stand out among the rest is that he recommended another actor that could be perfect for the role: Clint Eastwood. At this time, Eastwood was in post-production for his first film Play Misty for Me, meaning his career was taking something of a turn. Also, unlike his predecessors, Eastwood joined up with Dirty Harry, just as Newman thought he would. Because of his Western roots, the violence and aggression that made up Dirty Harry didn’t bother Eastwood at all.

Why Paul Newman Turned Down Dirty Harry

Paul Newman holding a gun.

Paul Newman turning down the leading role in Dirty Harry may not seem too surprising considering the host of other actors that also declined the movie, but Newman definitely had his reasons. While previous actors had condemned the movie for its incredible violence and themes of “the ends justify the means,” Newman refused to take the role because of his political beliefs. Since Harry Callahan was a renegade cop, intent on catching a serial killer no matter the cost or the rules that would be broken, Newman saw this character as too right-wing for his own liberal beliefs.

Paul Newman was an outspoken liberal during his life. He was open about his beliefs, so much so that he even made it onto Richard Nixon’s enemies list due to his opposition of the Vietnam War. Other issues that Newman spoke out for included gay rights and same-sex marriage, the decrease in production and use of nuclear weapons, and global warming. As a result of his politics, Newman quickly denied the role of Harry Callahan. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly as reported by Far Out Magazine, Clint Eastwood commented that he didn’t view Callahan in the way Newman did, but still respected him as an actor and a man.

Would Dirty Harry Have Been So Successful Without Clint Eastwood?

Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry Callahan

Ultimately, it’s hard to say whether Dirty Harry would have been successful without Clint Eastwood. Arguably, any big-time actor could have made the film succeed solely based on their fame. However, one aspect of Dirty Harry and its carousel of actors is that the movie had various scripts, all with different plots. So, if Dirty Harry had been in a different location with a different serial killer and a different lead actor, there’s a chance it wouldn’t have been nearly as successful. In the end, Dirty Harry is a signature for Clint Eastwood, and most likely, audiences are lucky that it was made the way it was.

Continue Reading

Clint Eastwood

The story of how Clint Eastwood prevented Ron Howard from embarrassment

A star of American cinema both in front of and behind the camera, Ron Howard is often forgotten when recalling the greatest directors of modern cinema, yet his contributions to the art form remain unmatched. Working with the likes of Tom Hanks, Chris Hemsworth, Russell Crowe and John Wayne, Howard has brought such classics as Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind and Rush to the big screen.
Entering the industry in the late 1950s and 1960s, Howard started his career as an actor, making a name for himself in shows like Just Dennis and The Andy Griffith Show before his role in 1970s Happy Days would catapult him to national acclaim. His directorial debut would come at a similar time, helming 1977’s Grand Theft Auto, the ropey first movie in a filmography that would later become known for its abundance of quality.
Known for his acting talents, Howard wouldn’t become a fully-fledged director in the eyes of the general public until the 1980s, when he worked with Tom Hanks on 1984’s Splash and George Lucas for the 1988 cult favourite Willow.
With hopes of becoming the new Star Wars, Willow was instead a peculiar fantasy tale that told the story of a young farmer who is chosen to undertake the challenge to protect a magical baby from an evil queen. Starring the likes of Warwick Davis, Val Kilmer and Joanne Whalley, the film failed to make a considerable dent in pop culture at the time, largely being ridiculed by critics and audiences alike.
Screened at the Cannes Film Festival, the movie was spared humiliation by none other than Clint Eastwood, who saw the craftsmanship behind the picture, as described by Ron’s daughter, Bryce Dallas Howard.
Speaking to Daily Mail, the actor recalled: “My dad made a film called Willow when he was a young filmmaker, which screened at the Cannes Film Festival and people were booing afterwards. It was obviously so painful for him, and Clint, who he didn’t know at that time, stood up and gave him a standing ovation and then everyone else stood up because Clint did”.
Dallas Howard, who worked with Eastwood on the 2010 movie Hereafter, became very fond of Eastwood as a result, looking up to him as an exemplary Hollywood talent. “Clint puts himself out there for people,” she added, “As a director he is very cool, very relaxed, there’s no yelling ‘action’ or ‘cut’. He just says: ‘You know when you’re ready.’ I told my dad he should do that!”.
Take a look at the trailer for Howard’s 1988 fantasy flick below.

Continue Reading