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THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTFOOT-- gay or straight?

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I have to admit I am not familiar with all of Clint Eastwood's films of the 1970s. THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTFOOT was recently added to Starz. Interestingly there's no picture when the title lists on the Starz movies page. So I clicked on it thinking it was going to be a western, since it seemed like a good title for a western. Boy was I wrong!

Screen Shot 2018-06-11 at 6.15.46 AM.jpg

Instead THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTFOOT is an action/road comedy with Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges. It was made in 1973 and released in 1974 by United Artists (the last film Eastwood ever did for the independent studio). I did something different when I watched this film. I did not watch it with the sound. I put it on mute because I could tell with the opening credits it was filmed on location somewhere in the Pacific Northwest and I wanted to focus on the visuals.

Screen Shot 2018-06-11 at 6.17.03 AM.jpg

This also gave me a chance to study the body language of the two leads. While the movie was playing, I read some user reviews on the IMDb. One person, whose father is now apparently deceased, loves the film but says his father hated it because of its homoerotic undercurrent. Another person, in another write-up, called it a precursor to THELMA & LOUISE, which if you recall had a lesbian undercurrent. 

So are these buddy movies really movies about LGBT characters? Or are they mostly straight but made in a way that can be read in other ways by different audiences?

Screen Shot 2018-06-11 at 6.18.42 AM.jpg

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The first time I saw Thunderbolt and Lightfoot I immediately saw the gay subtext/connection. I think it's pretty obvious, but maybe that's just me. Haven't seen it in some time.

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1 hour ago, Swithin said:

The first time I saw Thunderbolt and Lightfoot I immediately saw the gay subtext/connection. I think it's pretty obvious, but maybe that's just me. Haven't seen it in some time.

It really feels like a product of its era, which can be a good thing. The on-location on-the-run scenes reminded me of THE SUGARLAND EXPRESS. The print on Starz is uncut (some IMDb reviewers complained that it's edited for commercials when it airs on TBS or AMC). But I think it's in need of restoration. It has a yellowed look to it, unless that was the original intention of the cinematographer which I don't think it was. 

Can you imagine if people complained about movies having a hetero-erotic undercurrent? And this film does have scenes with them bringing sexy women back to their motel room. As well as a shot where Jeff Bridges' character is doing yard work without his shirt, while a suburban housewife stands nude in front of a large living room window. She's completely naked, a full frontal shot of her, meant to entice him and bring pleasure to straight male viewers.

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Although I haven't seen it, the film is famous for its' homoerotic context.

2017-01-16_04-41-39.jpg

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There's a famous review of this film by Peter Biskind in the film journal, "Jump Cut", that is titled, "**** and ****".

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1 hour ago, rayban said:

There's a famous review of this film by Peter Biskind in the film journal, "Jump Cut", that is titled, "**** and ****".

I just found Biskind's review and read it. I think he "gets" most of it right and especially has great points to make about George Kennedy's character (Red Leary). Also I agree that when Jeff Bridges' character dresses in drag, that's when the film is most obviously que*r.

Here's the full review:

https://www.ejumpcut.org/archive/onlinessays/JC04folder/ThboltAndLtfoot.html

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That's a terrific review - if only they could have consummated their relationship.

16-ctek-1831-Oct-Dec_thunderboltandlight

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26 minutes ago, rayban said:

That's a terrific review - if only they could have consummated their relationship.

16-ctek-1831-Oct-Dec_thunderboltandlight

Wonder why Cimino chose to have them both wearing blue shirts...

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7 hours ago, rayban said:

Although I haven't seen it, the film is famous for its' homoerotic context.

2017-01-16_04-41-39.jpg

Are you meditating or are we going to have sex?

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4 minutes ago, jaragon said:

Are you meditating or are we going to have sex?

The significance of this shot is that Cimino likes to connect all his characters with the sky and with the earth. He does this a lot in HEAVEN'S GATE. It's one of his trademarks as a director.

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"We are good together" Jeff and Clint did make an attractive couple

 

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38 minutes ago, rayban said:

That's a terrific review - if only they could have consummated their relationship.

16-ctek-1831-Oct-Dec_thunderboltandlight

Doesn't this remind you of that other homoerotic 70s crime thriller "The Mechanic"? - they both feature tough looking hombres Eastwood and Charles Bronson paired up with blonde younger men Bridges and Jan Michael Vincent.

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10 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

Wonder why Cimino chose to have them both wearing blue shirts...

The square-looking shirt of Clint Eastwood makes him, from the review, the **** and the much more decorative shirt of Jeff Bridges makes him, from the review, the ****.

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7 hours ago, rayban said:

Jeff Bridges in drag -

c44a595b8c1b9ee6dab05f8ddb407fd0.jpg

I want  to see the movie just to see how they come with this get up

 

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1 minute ago, rayban said:

The square-looking shirt of Clint Eastwood makes him, from the review, the **** and the much more decorative shirt of Jeff Bridges makes him, from the review, the ****.

The blue shirts links them visually as couple

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Just now, rayban said:

The square-looking shirt of Clint Eastwood makes him, from the review, the **** and the much more decorative shirt of Jeff Bridges makes him, from the review, the ****.

Yes, I would agree. I just wonder why they needed to have the same color. They could have given Bridges a pink shirt and kept Eastwood's in blue.

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2 minutes ago, jaragon said:

I want  to see the movie just to see how they come with this get up

He comes up with it all on his own, which leads us to wonder if he's dressed like this before. It's part of his "disguise" for the heist.

There's a cute scene where he's just finished dressing and he's putting lipstick on in front of a mirror. The way he looks at himself is very narcissistic. In an interview Bridges said it was a mind-blowing experience...he claimed it's like you become your sister in those moments. Supposedly his father Lloyd and brother Beau kidded him endlessly about it. But he does a truly great job and it's easy to see why he received an Oscar nomination for this role.

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There's a play on words here, I think -

"Lightfoot" - Light on his feet? -

"Thunderbolt" - like a bolt of thunder? -

If they had gotten together - sexually - Jeff Bridges' "gay man" would probably feel that Clint Eastwood was like "a bolt of thunder".

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2 hours ago, rayban said:

There's a play on words here, I think -

"Lightfoot" - Light on his feet? -

"Thunderbolt" - like a bolt of thunder? -

If they had gotten together - sexually - Jeff Bridges' "gay man" would probably feel that Clint Eastwood was like "a bolt of thunder".

Supposedly the character names (and title) come from the Universal adventure film CAPTAIN LIGHTFOOT starring Rock Hudson. It was Cimino's favorite film as a kid.

Hudson's costar Jeff Morrow played Thunderbolt:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Captain_Lightfoot

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3 hours ago, TopBilled said:

He comes up with it all on his own, which leads us to wonder if he's dressed like this before. It's part of his "disguise" for the heist.

There's a cute scene where he's just finished dressing and he's putting lipstick on in front of a mirror. The way he looks at himself is very narcissistic. In an interview Bridges said it was a mind-blowing experience...he claimed it's like you become your sister in those moments. Supposedly his father Lloyd and brother Beau kidded him endlessly about it. But he does a truly great job and it's easy to see why he received an Oscar nomination for this role.

In movies when a straight man dresses in drag is usually for comedy here their seemed to be something else in mind- there is a lot of bromantic relationships in Cimino films

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" I hope you boys will come see me" Eastwood compares gun skills with some hot young police officers in "Magnum Force" co written by Michael Cimino....

 

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I didn't see any references Cimino was ever married, but that could mean anything. He lived in Paris for awhile but died in Beverly Hills.

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