Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Rolling Thunder (1977)

I have been trying to see this movie for a while. It's actually not readily available yet on DVD, so when I had some free time on a Sunday evening and saw that it was on our cable's On Demand, so I decided to go for it. Quentin Tarantino has long cited it as one of his top ten (or 12) movies, even as recently as this year when the new Sight and Sound Director's Poll came out, he cited it once again (check out his list it's usually one of the most interesting at least to me. And bless Matthew Vaughn for putting Rocky III on his list-the one's that go off the beaten path, so to speak, are always the most interesting. Anyway, I should have written a post about the Sight and Sound poll months ago, so I will continue...) Anyway, Rolling Thunder, where William Devane returns from Vietnam where he was imprisoned for years in a POW camp along with a young Tommy Lee Jones. He returns to San Antonio and the town gives him a bunch of pieces of silver, one for each day he was away. Then some redneck thugs steal his silver, mangles his hand, and kills his family and the last part of the movie is him exacting his revenge on said thugs. It's written by Paul Schrader who also wrote Taxi Driver, and there are a few similarities between those movies. This movie is a lot more open about the torture Devane endured in the camps, showing a bunch in flashback, while in Taxi Driver it was only hinted at - just showing Travis Bickle's scars when his shirt is off. But Devane's character is a lot less nuts until he is pushed over the edge and decides to enact revenge. I looked up Paul Schrader because I thought for sure he must have been in Vietnam but I couldn't find any evidence of it, but he definitely spent a good portion of the seventies in a depression and these movies seem to be the product of it. That being said, Rolling Thunder seems to be more of the straight forward, pulpier companion piece to Taxi Driver, and it's good at being the lean revenge thriller it's trying to be. Oh also. Tommy Lee Jones as another vet who is returning home from a camp, he is at his Tommy Lee Jones(iest) being the more strong, silent type. If anyone is the more Travis Bickle character here, it's probably him really. It's well worth a look if you happen upon it.


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