Thunder Road (Timeless, Blu-ray+DVD), produced by star Robert Mitchum from his own original story, is an energetic little genre piece about moonshine running and a primal example of the outlaw road movie genre. Though a little old for his part, producer/star Robert Mitchum is all sleepy-eyed, surly charm as a Kentucky bootlegger who battles both local cops and mobsters trying to muscle their way into the state to protect his business. Keely Smith has little to do as his girlfriend but has a couple of great nightclub numbers and Mitchum’s son James is fine as his hero-worshipping younger brother. Mitchum also composed the theme song but his version of the song, which he recorded and released, is not in the film. You can hear repeat through the menu, however.
It’s directed by Arthur Ripley, a former silent movie gag man who largely worked in shorts, B-movies and TV but also made the cult noir item The Chase (1946). Between that and Thunder Road, Ripley’s name is secured, at least among fans of classic genre films. This is a low budget gem with attitude to burn and it gets its Blu-ray debut in this two-disc combo release. It’s a dark film—a lot of nighttime chases—but it’s sharp and clean.