Blu-ray Review: Thunder Road

Sam Malone and Coach used to have a tradition that when Thunder Road was on airing on TV. They’d call each other to share the experience. It was that powerful of a movie for the duo on Cheers. This was a movie is still worth bonding over. Thunder Road: Blu-ray + DVD Video combo is a great way to share the experience for your pal who likes his action fast and his home made liquor untaxed.

The movie is Robert Mitchum’s baby on all levels. He put together the story. He wrote the theme song. He played the lead of Lucas Doolin, a military vet who returns to his country home. Instead of getting a real job, he’s happy running moonshine for the family business. He thinks he knows the simple game. He just has to make midnight runs across winding hilly roads to get that precious liquor. Why so late? He has to avoid the revenuers out to bust him and others that wish to make artisan liquor. This has always been the cat and mouse game that Lucas understood. However things get changed around when an outsider wants to take over the entire process. The Deep Fried Godfather wants all the independent moonshiners to work for him. He’ll give them a steady paycheck if they produce their sweet elixir on time. That’s as bad as getting a real job. Lucas won’t back down from any authority – government or criminal.

Thunder Road is supposed to be a warning about the dangers of living the outlaw life. But let’s face it, Mitchum makes us feel for the his moonshine runner. There’s no talk of people going blind and dying from bad batches of booze that don’t need to have any government inspectors or quality control. Which is fine since this wasn’t meant to be Walking Tall. This is about the guy who is sick of being told what to do. He’s a family man who employs his brother as his mechanic (his son James Mitchum). He even has a cool girlfriend that sings at a nightclub (Keely Smith of Louis Prima’s band). He was a cool guy who just wanted his life restored. The film still echos after all these decades. Although watching the reality shows about modern moonshiners, none of them are nearly as cool as when Lucas tore across Thunder Road.

The video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The black and white transfers brings out the grit of the story. Mitchum had the film shot in Asheville, North Carolina. The exteriors are real places in the moonshiners world. The audio is 1.0 DTS-HD Master Audio. It’s not the fanciest of mixes, but there’s enough octane as the cars barrel down the roads.

Trailer (2:08) highlights the action and gives away the ending.

Thunder Road gets deep into the Southern world of moonshine running. This is Robert Mitchum’s finest role until The Friends of Eddie Coyle. Wake up Sam and Coach, they need to see Thunder Road in 1080p.

Timeless Media Group presents Thunder Road. Directed by: Arthur Ripley. Starring: Robert Mitchum, James Mitchum, Gene Barry and Keely Smith. Rated: Unrated. Running Time: 92 minutes. Released: April 7, 2015.