Thunderbolt and Lightfoot
Lightfoot is Jeff Bridges, a carefree happy-go-lucky small-time thief. Thunderbolt is Clint Eastwood, so called because he once used a 20mm cannon to break into a vault at an armory. They hook up and become buddies in the usual reluctant way, at least on Clint’s part. They encounter two of Clint’s former partners in the big robbery, who think they have been ripped off. They weren’t, but the money is gone. So the four of them plan another heist in the same way, even going so far as to take jobs to raise the money they need to set it all up. Horrors! What self-respecting thief would do that? But the heist is well-planned, and almost comes off. (You know these things never go as planned, there is always some small detail that screws them up.) Fleeing the law, one of the other guys is shot, and the other (George Kennedy, nasty as usual) doublecrosses T&L, pistol-whipping them and kicking Lightfoot repeatedly in the head.
One of the reasons I like this film a lot is its refusal to be just a macho display of tough guys, aside from the obvious big-gun Dirty Harry cannon. Lightfoot gets cold feet before the robbery, though he goes through with it. And later … well, I’m trying to think of another movie where a man dies as the result of a beating. Maybe there are some where someone is literally beaten to a pulp, just shattered, and dies right there on the floor. But an ordinary—if vicious—garden-variety stomping? Never. Here, Lightfoot seems okay, other than a feeling of dizziness. But in the last twenty minutes he gets worse and worse, and finally dies of what is probably a cerebral hemorrhage. Never happens in films, happens all the time in real life. I get so tired of seeing people soak up beatings that would pulverize a gorilla, get up, shake their heads once, and hurry off to the next fistfight. It doesn’t work that way, my friends. Most beatings you see in the movies would put the winner in a hospital for a few days at least, and the loser in a casket.