My month is pretty much occupied with watching the Robert Mitchum collection on Criterion Channel. Last night, that was the 1958 film Thunder Road, a real favorite of mine but one I hadn’t seen in years. By any account, this should just be a hack genre movie about Appalachian bootlegging. Lots of souped-up cars and chase scenes. But this was Mitchum’s baby, to the point that he co-wrote the theme song. He ridiculously hired his son to play his little brother–Mitchum long had a tendency to play characters far younger than he actually was, though his looks made that possible. But it’s actually a really good film. We should see it as a precursor to the Dixie Mafia stories of Elmore Leonard. In fact, I wonder what Leonard thought of the film. I assume he was a big fan. But it has everything you need. Mitchum. Car chases. More Mitchum. The lone man trying to resist the onset of big organized crime taking over operations. Some ridiculous love stories. Semi-inept cops. Even more Mitchum.
It’s just a damn fun film.