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Thunder Road


Thunder Road

Director: Arthur Ripley
Writer: James Altee Phillips, Walter Wise
Starring: Robert Mitchum, Gene Barry, Jacques Aubuchon
How I Watched It: Part of my DVD Library
Review By: Griff


There is no doubt that Steve McQueen was the “King of Cool” but long before McQueen was tearing through cinemas with his epic car chase in Bullitt Robert Mitchum was raising hell on Thunder Road.

Mitchum plays Lucas Doolin a Korean War veteran who returns home to North Carolina and gets involved in working for the family business running moonshine. U.S. Treasury agents are always on the lookout for Lucas and are constantly trying to set traps to catch him. Apparently they don’t like Lucas selling moonshine without paying any taxes. To make matters worse, there is a new mob boss working his way up the ranks and trying to take control of all the local moonshine business.

Lucas is now being attacked on both sides by the government and by rival gangs trying to run him off the road. When a sting operation by the Treasury goes wrong and agent ends up dead, the government steps in. They send a huge force of officers up into the mountains to hunt down and destroy any stills that they find. Lucas and his father decide it time to call it quits for a while and to close up the business. Before they do that however, Lucas needs to make one last run…

Thunder Road was a huge hit with the Drive In crowd when it came out and it has gone on to become a cult classic. The movie was obviously filmed on a fairly low budget. With the exception of Mitchum and Sandra Knight the rest of the acting is pretty poor. There are lots of awkward pauses in dialogue and at times it seems like you can almost see actors reading off of cue cards. If give the movie the feel of some of the sci-fi movies that were being made at the time.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give Thunder Road a watch. Mitchum is at his tough guy best. Driving fast, taking on the man and anyone else who gets in his way. The car chase scenes are great and hold up even today. Thunder Road is a wild ride that is definitely worth your time.

Some interesting trivia with this one as well. Robert Mitchum’s son is in this movie playing his younger brother. The resemblance between father and son is pretty crazy. Even more interesting is that the part was originally supposed to go to Elvis and Mitchum even hand delivered the script to him. Eventually Elvis wanted too much money for the role and he had to be replaced.

This movie was also the inspiration for the song Thunder Road by Bruce Springsteen but apparently he wrote it after only seeing the poster or the trailer (I read different accounts) and had not actually seen the film.

Thunder Road gets 2 1/2 out of 3 guys from me. This is a must see for any fan of Robert Mitchum and who isn’t a fan of his?


So I have a few extras for you this time. Robert Mitchum actually recorded the theme song for this movie and had a hit with it although he didn’t sing the theme in the actual movie. Here is Mitchum singing Thunder Road…

Up Next is a review of the trailer from one of my favorites sites Trailers from Hell.



Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Adam March 3, 2013, 9:10 am

    While I have not seen this film, your review makes this seem like the recent Lawless is a pale imitation of this superior film.

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