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A criminal known as Thunderbolt is imprisoned and facing execution. Into the next cell is placed Bob Moran, an innocent man who has been framed and who is in love with Thunderbolt's girl. Thunderbolt hopes to stave off the execution long enough to kill young Moran for romancing his girl.Written by
Jim Beaver <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A bit old fashioned...but that's what you'd expect from a 1929 film.
In 1929, talking pictures were still a novelty and some pictures in Hollywood were still coming out silent. So, it's not very surprising that this Josef von Sternberg movie comes off as a bit old fashioned. It's lack of incidental music* makes it seem a bit too quiet...but that was true of all the sound films of the day. Likewise, some of the acting is a bit stilted...and this was not at all unusual for 1929. So, I try to cut this and other movies from 1927-30 a bit of slack.
The title character, Thunderbolt Jim Lang (George Bancroft), is one of the most-wanted men in the country. He's been responsible for many bank robberies and deaths and the police are desperately searching for him. But their only lead is his old girlfriend, Ritzie (IMDB incorrectly spells it 'Ritzy' and she's played by Fay Wray). But she's sick of him and wants to go straight--and has taken up with a nice guy, Bob (Richard Arlen). But Thunderbolt has promised that if she takes up with ANYONE other than him, he'll get them...and he does this in a most peculiar way...while he's in prison! Huh? How does he do this and how does it all end? See the film and find out for yourself.
The film has some very good things going for it--particularly the mobster talk throughout the movie. It's all very tough and fun. Bancroft's performance is also quite entertaining (not necessarily GOOD but entertaining). Still, the movie's plot is very tough to believe though it is still entertaining to see today...even with its old fashioned style and bizarre scenes with Thunderbolt inexplicably in his cell with a pet dog!
*Instead of the usual background music, it's a quiet film--normal for 1929. But in all the death row scenes, there is often some sort of spiritual being sung...and wow were they annoying and overdone!
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