Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974)

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Released 12-May-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1974
Running Time 110:02
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (64:06) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Michael Cimino

Starring Clint Eastwood
Jeff Bridges
Geoffrey Lewis
Catherine Bach
Gary Busey
Jack Dodson
Gene Elman
Burton Gilliam
Roy Jenson
Claudia Lennear
Bill McKinney
Vic Tayback
Dub Taylor
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music Dee Barton
Paul Williams

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
German for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    I nearly always enjoy Clint Eastwood films and was keen to review one which I did not think I had previously seen. On viewing this film, I get the feeling I have seen it before, but if I have it was a long time ago.

    This film was made in 1974 shortly after Clint had established himself as a major action star with the Dirty Harry films. This was a change of pace for him, playing a crook instead of a good guy. The film also features a young Jeff Bridges, early in his career and George Kennedy. It was directed by Michael Cimino and is his debut feature as a director. Of course, he went on to direct one of the most critically acclaimed films of the decade, The Deer Hunter and followed it up with one of the biggest disasters in movie history, Heaven's Gate.

    The plot involves a washed up old criminal, Thunderbolt (Clint Eastwood) who is hiding out as a preacher in a small country town. In the middle of his sermon a man enters the church and attempts to kill him. In attempting to escape he jumps into the car of a passing young criminal, Lightfoot (Jeff Bridges). Lightfoot helps him to escape from the man and his accomplice whom we later find out are Red Leary (George Kennedy) and Eddie Goody (Geoffrey Lewis, a Clint Eastwood film regular). Lightfoot convinces Thunderbolt that they should team up and commit crimes together, culminating in a plan to rob the Montana Armored Depository. To explain any more would spoil the film.

    This film is a mixture of the caper and mismatched partner genres, and I found it quite enjoyable but not spectacular. To my mind it went on for too long and would have been a better film with some more judicious editing. At the time of its release it was quite successful and allowed Michael Cimino to proceed to directing his masterpiece, The Deer Hunter. The film has a bittersweet tone and seems to contain details about the characters which do not advance the plot. The film garnered an Academy Award nomination for Jeff Bridges and although he does a good job, I would not rate his performance that highly myself. The film also features a cameo by Gary Busey early in his career. This film could definitely used more of a comic touch especially considering the psychopathic tendencies of Red Leary.

    Generally, this is an entertaining but overlong film with some good touches.

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Transfer Quality


    The video quality is reasonable but badly afflicted by artefacts.

    The feature is presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio non 16x9 enhanced which is the original aspect ratio. The lack of 16x9 enhancement could well explain some of the issues with the transfer.

    The picture was surprisingly clear and sharp throughout, with no evidence of low level noise, however the aliasing that comes along with that sharpness is a major issue. Shadow detail was average with night scenes showing some details.

    The colour was quite good throughout with all colours being well saturated and free from colour bleeding. The skin colouring was very natural. The colours were not as vibrant as more modern films but considering the age they come up very well on this transfer.

    The most obvious (but certainly not the only) artefact in this transfer is aliasing. It is constant and becomes rather annoying. Some (I repeat some) of the instances include a shirt Clint Eastwood wears for most of the film which also aliases for most of the film; a barn at 6:36, the hills at 10:00, rocks at 11:00, the shirt at 15:20, a grille at 14:16, a car at 26:23, a car at 27:33, a grille at 27:46 and 31:28, a wall at 36:21, a bridge at 38:36, rocks at 43:37, a piano at 51:22, a fridge magnet (of all things) at 57:06, the safe at 81:51, the house at 99:03 and the entire end credits. The fact that no instances are recorded between 57:06 and 81:51 does not indicate they were not present, just that I got sick of recording them. Also there is some edge enhancement most noticeable at 97:31, telecine wobble in the opening credits and regular black and white specks, culminating in a huge white jagged splotch which covers half the screen at 38:39.

    There are subtitles in thirteen European languages including English. The English subtitles were clear, easy to read and quite exact. A minor benefit of not having 16x9 enhancement is that the subtitles appear in the black bar at the bottom of the screen rather than on the film itself.

    This is a dual layered disc and the layer change is well placed and not terribly distracting at 64:06.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The audio quality is reasonable but basically mono.

    This DVD contains five audio options, an English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 224 Kb/s and the same in German, French, Italian & Spanish. It sounded very much like mono to me.

    Dialogue was clear and easy to understand.    

    There were no problems with audio sync.    

    The music in this film by Dee Barton and other performers is mostly particularly nasty country music, unless you like that sort of thing. Thankfully there is not too much of it.

    The surround speakers and subwoofer were not used at all.


Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    The menu was static and included a scene selection function but precious little else.

Theatrical Trailer (1:56)

    The trailer featured much better music than the film did but gave away many key plot points.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This movie is available on a very similar disc in Region 1 & Region 2, however I have no information as to the transfer quality in other regions, so if you badly want this film it may be worth waiting for more reviews to appear of the Region 1 version before investing. At this stage I will go for the Region 4 release on the basis of availability and PAL/NTSC differences.


    This disc contains a reasonable caper film from 1974 starring Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges.

    The video quality is reasonable but badly afflicted by artefacts.

    The audio quality is reasonable.

    The disc has only a theatrical trailer as an extra.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Friday, July 30, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 1200, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersBose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)

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