Tuesday, June 12, 2007

DVD Pick:-->“Thunder Road” (1958)

"He's gettin' old and it's showin'.
When I asked him how it's goin'
He said "I've seen better I guess.
I've been rained on, I've been frozen,
but this here's the life I've chosen...
If it just wasn't for the loneliness."
Steve Earle
“Thunder Road” (although directed by Arthur Ripley) was written and produced by the rebel, Robert Mitchum. He also had the starring role and even wrote the theme song for the film. (The song charted...but I have never heard the entire version). This was Mitchum's puppy, to be sure!.

Supposedly based on actual events, Robert Mitchum offers us a glimpse into a small part of what Appalachian Americana was like for a hard-working, law-breaking, moon shining family.

A moon shining family who believes it is their right...to do on their land...what they please. And Mitchum is obviously sympathetic with the moon shiners...showing them as good normal people.
Luke Doolin (Robert Mitchum)
Luke Doolin (Robert Mitchum) is the runner who must transport the 'shine to buyers over dark narrow blacktop roads...having to look out for the Feds who are watching at all times. But also the city mobsters who dislike competition and is trying to put the squeeze on Doolin’s business.

The souped-up 50's cars are extremely choice...with "moon tanks" in the trunks. Break away bumpers. Built in valves to spill oil on the roads as drivers are being chased. And a switch to dump the "cargo" if escape is impossible. Add engines that purr like a kitten and run like a cheetah and you've got yourself a pretty good movie.

Not a great film, for sure...however, for an independent, low-budget b/w movie...it looks good and is easy to see how it found such a cult niche. In fact, Mitchum may have created a new genre that “Luke and Duke Hazzard” and “The Bandit” should give thanks for. With cool Mitchum (and his half-opened eyes) stealing every scene and several very nicely shot chase scenes and wrecks...One can hardly go wrong.

Among the other actors...Mitchum had his oldest son, James Mitchum play his younger brother who does a fair job and looks just like his father. (A role that was first offered to Elvis. Col. Tom Parker nixed it). But wouldn't have that been interesting to watch those two on screen together!

Also, Bruce Springsteen acknowledges lifting Mitchum’s “Thunder Road” title for his own song. Nice compliment.

Grab yourself some popcorn. Good stuff.

Must See Moments:
Watch the younger Mitchum take a wallop at the supper table while saying “his” version of Grace. (It might have been harder than expected!)
When younger brother shows up at Robert Mitchum’s hideout...count the seconds...(minutes) that young bro goes with out blinking.


Steve Earle:-->"Back To The Wall" (Copperhead Road) (1988)
(Own This CD)


aikin said...

ah, dude! As I scrolled down, I was hoping I'd see Robert Mitchum's "Thunder Road"!

I haven't heard that song in years. I have it on vinyl, but the album is worn almost beyond recognition!

Good post, though! I do not think I have ever seen the movie. I'll have to add it to my Blockbuster queue.

Casey said...

Aikin...I never heard the entire version by Mitchum...but maybe someone will read this and post it.
Thanks for the drop-in.

buz said...

The chorus is;

And there was thunder, thunder
Over thunder road.
Thunder was his engine and white lightin' was his load.

And there was moonshine, moonshine to quench the devil's thirst.
The law they swore they'd get him but, the devil got him first.

There are also two verses, the first of which I don't remember at all, the second being about the trap the feds set for Lucas (Mitchum) which Lucas escapes by cartwheeling his '50 Merc off the side of a North Carolina Mountain at 130 mph.

Good movie, good song. Michum sang it as well as wrote it.

Casey said...

Buz...The lyrics sound pretty strong..I'd love to hear the entire song. Mitchum was truly talented...but I never was aware that he had a "hit" until after watching "Thunder Road".
Thanks for dropping by!