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Rolling Thunder

By Jerry Renshaw

Rolling Thunder's ex-Vietnam War POW Major Charles Rane (William Devane) returns to a hero's welcome in San Antonio in the early Super70s. He's bestowed with a red Cadillac convertible, $2,500 in silver dollars, and accolades from all sides. Soon, however, he discovers that all is not as it seems; his wife strayed with a close friend during his years of confinement. He also finds that he has his own personal POW groupie, Linda; her fascination with him is met with the same shoulder-shrugging blandness that he shows toward everything else in what's left of his life. One day Rane comes home to find a houseful of assorted Texas white trash demanding his small fortune in silver dollars. Their efforts to beat him into revealing the location of the money are for naught, so they jam his right hand down a garbage disposal instead. When his wife and kid come home, the two gladly give up the money but the robbers cold-bloodedly gun them down anyway. Flash-forward: Rane has himself fitted with a hook prosthesis (which he sharpens on a grinder), cuts down a couple of shotguns, and points the scarlet Caddy land yacht south towards Nuevo Laredo, bent on revenge. With Linda in tow, he tracks the bad guys as far as Acuña and Juárez, where he hooks up with war buddy Johnny (Tommy Lee Jones) for a final showdown. What would otherwise play as a routine revenge story is given a measure of dimension and depth by Devane's performance and Paul Schrader's script. The comparison to Schrader scripts such as the previous year's Taxi Driver are inevitable and obvious. Like Taxi Driver's Travis Bickle, Rane wears opaque state-trooper sunglasses that allow no window into his dead soul. However, Bickle's internal monologues are missing; all the audience can see of Rane's character is what's on the surface, only what Rane wants others to see. He's simply a vengeful automaton, riddled with a cold, poisonous, implacable rage. Strong stuff indeed.

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FILM FACTS

Buy this VHS movie from Amazon.com! (Click here!)DVD unavailableSoundtrack unavailable at Amazon.com - try eBay (see links below)Rated RNot on an American Film Institute 100 list

Director: John Flynn

Stars: William Devane, Tommy Lee Jones, Linda Haynes, James Best, Dabney Coleman, Lisa Richards, Luke Askew

Released: November 2, 1977

Availability: VHS


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