Saturday, March 19, 2011

Thunder Road

For some reason I thought I had already blogged about the movie Thunder Road. It's coming up this evening at 6:00 PM ET on TCM, and it's worth a watch.

Robert Mitchum stars (as if you can't tell from the poster) as Lucas Doolin, a man from the backwoods of Tennessee in the 1950s who's returned from the Korean War to the family business, which is running moonshine. However, the business has changed while Lucas was away. Before, just the revenuers were after the small-time runners like the Doolins. However, as is always the case with things when the government makes them illegal, it makes them more dangerous by bringing in the racketeers. In this case, that's Carl Kogan (Jacques Aubuchon), who's trying to get at the Doolins for taking away what is rightfully "his" business. As if things aren't bad enough, Luke's got a girlfriend Francie (Keely Smith) who wants him to get out of the business, and a younger brother, Robin (played by Mitchum's real-life son James). Robin looks up to Luke, but Luke doesn't really want Robin to follow in his footsteps.... The plot is actually a bit more complex than that, as the ATF sees Luke as a pawn to get at the big-time types like Kogan, which really puts Luke in danger. But at heart, Thunder Road is really a pretty simple film.

That's not to say that it's a bad movie. In fact, it's quite enjoyable. Car fans will like the vintage muscle cars of the day souped up for business. (NASCAR, in fact, has some of its origins in the bootlegging business.) Others will enjoy the relatively escapist entertainment and the exciting car chases. And for others, it might be interesting to see Robert Mitchum together with his son James. If you want fun and nothing that requires deep thought, you could do a lot worse than to watch Thunder Road.

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