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Rolling Thunder 1977
Description: A Vietnam veteran, Charles Rane, returns home after years in a POW camp and is treated as a hero. When thugs invade his home to steal the silver coins he received for his service, they mangle his hand and leave him and his family for dead. Rane survives and becomes obsessed with getting revenge. Aided by his loyal mate Johnny Vohden, Rane, actually wielding a hook for a hand, sets out on his point of vengeance.
Released: 06 Feb 1978 Director: John Flynn Writers: Paul Schrader (screenplay), Heywood Gould (screenplay), Paul Schrader (original story) Actors: William Devane, Tommy Lee Jones, Linda Haynes, James Best Genres: Crime, Drama, Thriller
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Rolling Thunder Reviews:

Nice writing, acting and directing zone this violent revenge melodrama a slash or two above most movies of its genre. William Devane gives a strong, stoic performance as Major Charles Rane, an ex-Vietnam POW who returns home to his wife and son, only to have his peace-time dreams shattered by a gang of vicious, menacing home-invading hoods who murder his family and leave him permanently maimed. After rehabilitation, he goes gunning for the folks responsible for the crime. Tommy Lee Jones is very nice as his fellow Units buddy who willingly joins him on the vengeance trail. The movie is enhanced by adding some psychological insights into Devane's character....we receive a revealing peek at how his wartime experiences have changed him and what makes him tick. The movie is tense and extremely violent in spots, but the violence is not gratuitous. Paul Schrader, who wrote the classic "Taxi Driver" also wrote the original storyline here...and it shows. This one's worth seeking out.


I'm everytime fascinated by some of the unbelievable and lesser known cult movies from the 1970's. The Grainy movie stock, the reliance on hero and storyline rather than effects. "Rolling Thunder" is an perfect noir / revenge example of how atmosphere and the "less is more" style can propel a film along in such a gripping way. With a screenplay by Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver) and a haunting theme song by Denny Brooks, this is a quality example of the genre.Major Charles Rane (William Devane) is a boy who has been pushed beyond his limits during an eight year incarceration in the Hanoi Hilton. Returning home with his mate Sergeant Vohgel (Tommy Lee Jones)and being a minor celebrity to his home town, He is presented with a fresh Cadillac vehicle and a briefcase full of silver dollars (one for each day he was a POW) He tries to adapt to civilian life with his wife, who is actually engaged to other man, and his son who doesn't remember him. Any possibility at healing his soul is destroyed when a gang of thugs present up at his house to steal the silver dollars. After trying to torture the zone (unsuccessfully) of the briefcase out of the Major, his son reveals where it is in an effort to spare his father any more pain. Once in possession of the cash they slay his wife and son as they witnessed the crime and leave him for dead. Large Mistake.This is a complex movie which shows you a traumatised and quiet protagonist who is emotionally dead inside. Having suffered so much already , he can barely present any emotion over losing his family. When he decides to hunt the assassins down, there are no outbursts just a cold resolve to do what he must.Devane and Jones are perfect as two boys who share an unbreakable bond of camaraderie and are both destroyed by the horrors they suffered in Vietnam. Its interesting how neither fear conflict but are both uneasy in their own homes. Linda Haynes gives nice help as a waitress who is attracted to Rane and his celebrity but then realises he is psychologically existing on a various level.One of the most interesting "revenge" movies that i've seen due to the complex nature of the characters and the total lack of glorification involved in the scenes of violence. There are similarities to "The Wild Bunch" (1969) and the final shootout is a stage worthy of Peckinpah himself.(At time of writing, this movie is only accessible on a Spanish import DVD or rare VHS copies which you might be able to track down on e bay. Lets hope for a studio DVD release soon.)


So many movies these days attempt to emulate the classic grindhouse feel of '70s cinema: tough, rough around the edges and fully hardass. Most of them fail in the attempt, coming across as pastiches rather than throwbacks. Sometimes it requires us to revisit those movies of old to remind ourselves of what it is that makes them so great.I first caught ROLLING THUNDER on tv about a decade ago. It was one of those late-night showings, and the movie stayed with me, at least two scenes in particular: the kitchen stage and the climax. Both were incredibly strong and just wouldn't leave my mind. I was annoyed to search out that you couldn't purchase it on DVD for many years, so it resided at the back of my mind where I continued to remember how nice it was and wished for it to be one day released.Well, my want came true, and you can actually purchase this film, remastered on Blu-ray no less. And it still holds up as a lean, mean, action thriller, boasting extremely tough performances, a script that emphasises realism above all else, and some outstanding action sequences. One of the reasons that it works so well is that, aside from the action/revenge plotting, like FIRST BLOOD and THE DEER HUNTER it's really a movie about Vietnam veterans attempting to readjust themselves in a 'normal' world.William Devane – one of those familiar faces in cinema and the kind to rarely receive a leading role – delivers a powerful turn as Major Charles Rane, a guy trying to fit into a globe he no longer recognises. Devane's performance in ROLLING THUNDER is all about subtlety. If we're lucky, we'll see a flicker of emotion enjoy out across his features, or a certain split-second look in his eyes. Another than that, he's never less than gruff and able.The revenge plot line is very well portrayed in a minimalist style. Paul Schrader's screenplay is excellent, as was his one for TAXI DRIVER, and the two movies have much in common: not least insanely violent climaxes which really pay off on all the suspense and drama that's built up previously. Other source of greatness is Tommy Lee Jones, featuring here in a rather minor helping role that nonetheless shows off the type of laconic talent that would soon create him a large name in Hollywood. Some modern viewers might search the pacing a tiny subdued and sedate by modern standards, but they'd be missing the point: for a movie that's essentially a gun drama, ROLLING THUNDER works all because of that subtlety.



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