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WILLIAM DEVANE RIDES 'ROLLING THUNDER' WITH LINDA HAYNES

Title: ROLLING THUNDER Year: 1977 Rating: ***1/2

The low-budget production company American International got themselves a movie with a then-groundbreaking post-Vietnam War plot and message that deserved a far superior studio...

And that's because important subjects can be costly — yet thanks to creative and economical director John Flynn, ROLLING THUNDER becomes an entertaining road movie on an exploitation vengeance trail...

Tommy Lee Jones in ROLLING THUNDER

Severely built into returning POW veterans William Devane and younger sidekick Tommy Lee Jones... one married with a wife and kid, the other harsh, haunted and born to lose... 

So it's not long before Devane's Major Charles Rane, after a rare-coin-theft gone extremely wrong... resulting in the shocking deaths of his separated wife, beloved yet distant son and the loss of his own hand... is (through irreversible reaction) thrust into action...

Lawrason Driscoll in ROLLING THUNDER

Paving way for who's at first an unlikable side-character in Lawrason Driscoll as Cliff... the wife and son's more typically befitting substitute dad... ultimately partaking in what feels like his own more basic and narrowed, location-hopping, investigatory revenge flick...

Blindly seeking the killers through dilapidated Mexico taverns and broken-down villas while Devane and blonde beauty Linda Haynes as a POW-groupie turned gun-moll provide a more fleshed-out, genuinely romantic mainline  — yet with the same gritty goal intact...

Linda Haynes in ROLLING THUNDER

Meanwhile an underused Tommy Lee Jones's arsenal must wait for the bloody Sam Peckinpah-style ending (combined with director Martin Scorsese and this picture's screenwriter Paul Schrader's TAXI DRIVER finale) that has Devane — progressively befitting a role he initially seems too old for — finally becoming the grisly ultra-violent anti-hero... 

Yet it's those previous scenes with Linda Haynes — whose searing motivation to keep him away from trouble are as intense as what he's about to step into —  that really showcases what ROLLING THUNDER could and does afford well: a moving character-driven melodrama where the search means more than its inevitable (yet still unpredictable) outcome.

Tommy Lee Jones in ROLLING THUNDER with William Devane
Linda Haynes in ROLLING THUNDER
Linda Haynes in ROLLING THUNDER
William Devane in ROLLING THUNDER
Luke Askew in ROLLING THUNDER
William Devane in ROLLING THUNDER
Painting of William Devane looking like Tommy Lee Jones for ROLLING THUNDER
Linda Haynes in ROLLING THUNDER
Luke Askew in ROLLING THUNDER
Linda Haynes in ROLLING THUNDER
William Devane in ROLLING THUNDER
Tommy Lee Jones in ROLLING THUNDER with William Devane
Luke Askew in ROLLING THUNDER
William Devane in ROLLING THUNDER
Linda Haynes in ROLLING THUNDER
Tommy Lee Jones in ROLLING THUNDER
Linda Haynes in ROLLING THUNDER with William Devane
Linda Haynes in ROLLING THUNDER
Linda Haynes in ROLLING THUNDER
William Devane in ROLLING THUNDER
Tommy Lee Jones in ROLLING THUNDER with William Devane
Tommy Lee Jones in ROLLING THUNDER with William Devane
Tommy Lee Jones in ROLLING THUNDER
Linda Haynes in ROLLING THUNDER


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