Thunderbolt (1929) 720p

Movie Poster
Thunderbolt (1929) bluray - Movie Poster
Genres:
Crime | Drama
Resolution:
978*720
Size:
838.35M
Quality:
720p
Frame Rate:
23.976 fps
Language:
English 2.0  
Run Time:
85 min
IMDB Rating:
6.6 / 10 
MPR:
Add Date:

Downloaded:
268
Seeds:
9
Peers:
1
Directors: Josef von Sternberg [Director] ,


Movie Description:
A criminal known as Thunderbolt is imprisoned and facing execution. Into the next cell is placed Bob Moran, an innocent man who has been framed and who is in love with Thunderbolt's girl. Thunderbolt hopes to stave off the execution long enough to kill young Moran for romancing his girl. —Jim Beaver

Screenshots

  • Thunderbolt (1929) bluray - Movie Scene 1
  • Thunderbolt (1929) bluray - Movie Scene 2
  • Thunderbolt (1929) bluray - Movie Scene 1

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Reviews

The sound ruined the movie

I understand this was one of the first films to use sound. But the sound quality isn't even the problem. It's the actors. The way they speak in this film sounds incredibly unnatural, like they weren't used to actually having their voices recorded before. The physical acting isn't bad, but I think up until this point the way the dialogue audibly sounded didn't matter because it would be edited with intertitles of dialogue in between. But in this film, the tone of the dialogue was a huge problem.

Even the music, and the way it was edited between scenes, left a lot to be desired. It sounded like the music from one room stopped abruptly when they would go to another room. Besides the sound, the characters were hard to take seriously. I can't really speak on anything else, because the poor audio truly did ruin any investment I could have in this story, and the film as a whole.

If I'm being honest, there really isn't much of a point in posting this review besides letting other people know, trust me, if you can't sit through this, you're not alone. It's not because it's too old. There are plenty of great films from the 20s. Watch Chaplin, watch Keaton, watch Metropolis, watch Sunrise, watch The Crowd, watch Lonesome. Watch almost anything else but this one...

A bit old fashioned...but that's what you'd expect from a 1929 film.

In 1929, talking pictures were still a novelty and some pictures in Hollywood were still coming out silent. So, it's not very surprising that this Josef von Sternberg movie comes off as a bit old fashioned. It's lack of incidental music* makes it seem a bit too quiet...but that was true of all the sound films of the day. Likewise, some of the acting is a bit stilted...and this was not at all unusual for 1929. So, I try to cut this and other movies from 1927-30 a bit of slack.

The title character, Thunderbolt Jim Lang (George Bancroft), is one of the most-wanted men in the country. He's been responsible for many bank robberies and deaths and the police are desperately searching for him. But their only lead is his old girlfriend, Ritzie (IMDB incorrectly spells it 'Ritzy' and she's played by Fay Wray). But she's sick of him and wants to go straight--and has taken up with a nice guy, Bob (Richard Arlen). But Thunderbolt has promised that if she takes up with ANYONE other than him, he'll get them...and he does this in a most peculiar way...while he's in prison! Huh? How does he do this and how does it all end? See the film and find out for yourself.

The film has some very good things going for it--particularly the mobster talk throughout the movie. It's all very tough and fun. Bancroft's performance is also quite entertaining (not necessarily GOOD but entertaining). Still, the movie's plot is very tough to believe though it is still entertaining to see today...even with its old fashioned style and bizarre scenes with Thunderbolt inexplicably in his cell with a pet dog!

*Instead of the usual background music, it's a quiet film--normal for 1929. But in all the death row scenes, there is often some sort of spiritual being sung...and wow were they annoying and overdone!

THUNDERBOLT (Josef von Sternberg, 1929) ***

Sternberg's first Talkie is virtually a retread of his UNDERWORLD (1927), with the same leading man – George Bancroft – no less. However, while ably flanked by his co-stars there, he is practically the whole show this time around (Fay Wray and Richard Arlen being no match for Evelyn Brent and Clive Brook) and, consequently, the role earned Bancroft his sole Oscar nomination (and the film's as well)! Anyway, the director's approach to Sound was not as experimental as may have been anticipated (resorting to Death Row histrionics and even a number of songs to showcase the format!) and the end result is hardly dazzling in this regard – though the dialogue is surprisingly clean, i.e. audible, for such an early example. Conversely, the visual aspect of the film, usually the director's main concern, is greatly diluted here through the poor quality of the copy I watched which also sported forced German subtitles!

Bancroft is once again a gangster (as before, his activity remains undisclosed throughout, apart from lording it up in an almost exclusively-black nightclub!) and his moll eventually leaves him for another, younger and handsomer, man. Here, too, the mobster is caught and imprisoned – in a wonderful scene where he shows compassion for a mutt, subsequently proving inseparable, thus preceding Raoul Walsh's HIGH SIERRA by 12 years! Yet, he ingeniously has his associates frame the rival for a murder they committed (the development of this particular plot strand is unfortunately rather muddled) and the hero winds up in the cell opposite Bancroft's. As in UNDERWORLD, Fred Kohler also appears here to antagonize the latter – besides lanky warden Tully Marshall and an Irish guard whose name the protagonist continually tries to guess (with the droll pay-off coming at the film's very conclusion).

Wray and her mother plead with the gangster to do the right thing and clear Arlen of his crime but, of course, he will have none of that at the start. Again, however, Bancroft is softened and confesses his role in the young man's entrapment just hours before his execution is due; I have to wonder here why he, a first-time felon, is scheduled to die before the much sought-after "Thunderbolt"! – yes, the film's title is a reference to the character's nick-name. In any case, the moll's own admission that she had left her lover for the gangster rather than the other way around makes the latter realize, as was the case in UNDERWORLD, that he is in the way and gladly accepts his fate. Incidentally, speaking of references to the director's earlier work, Wray and Arlen are made to undergo a hasty marriage here – much like Bancroft himself and Betty Compson in THE DOCKS OF NEW YORK (1928)!
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