This was Cimino's only preparation as director for the epic undertakings of The Deer Hunter and Heaven's Gate, and is separated from them both in time (four years until The Deer Hunter) and in subject (a buddy love/honour among thieves caper). The male bonding of The Deer Hunter is one connection, but Thunderbolt and Lightfoot still more or less merges with its production circumstances. Having written the script, Cimino was given his first chance to direct by Eastwood (for whom he had previously collaborated with John Milius on Magnum Force). The likeable result, made for and with the personnel of Eastwood's Malpaso Company, looks like a throwaway Eastwood vehicle, through which he drifts as the 'older' partner, allowing Jeff Bridges to strike most of the sparks and steal the movie as his good-natured sidekick.
Cast and crew