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HISTORY

Paramount Pictures owner Jesse L. Lasky released a statement in the 18 Jan 1929 FD about a fire that occurred the day before, destroying a newly built stage on the Paramount lot in Hollywood, CA. Lasky declared that not even a “single hour’s delay” would occur with the 1929 production schedule, as the “recording apparatus” used for sound pictures was located in another building. Thunderbolt, then referred to as a yet-to-be-titled George Bancroft-Josef von Sternberg picture, was given an 11 Mar 1929 start date.
       The 27 Jan 1929 FD, which referred to the film by its new title, Thunderbolt, reported that both a silent and an all-talking version would be produced. Patrick Kearney was listed as the dialogue writer; however, only Herman J. Mankiewicz was credited in reviews for contributing dialogue. The length of the silent version was given as 7,311 and 7,313 feet.
       Reviews confirmed that both silent and sound versions were produced. The 15 Jun 1929 Motion Picture News review announced a 22 Jun 1929 release date. The film was declared a “corking entertainment” in the 30 Jun 1929 FD review, which noted von Sternberg’s “intelligent direction.”
       George Bancroft received an Academy Award nomination for his performance in Thunderbolt, at the second Academy Awards ceremony held in ... More Less

Paramount Pictures owner Jesse L. Lasky released a statement in the 18 Jan 1929 FD about a fire that occurred the day before, destroying a newly built stage on the Paramount lot in Hollywood, CA. Lasky declared that not even a “single hour’s delay” would occur with the 1929 production schedule, as the “recording apparatus” used for sound pictures was located in another building. Thunderbolt, then referred to as a yet-to-be-titled George Bancroft-Josef von Sternberg picture, was given an 11 Mar 1929 start date.
       The 27 Jan 1929 FD, which referred to the film by its new title, Thunderbolt, reported that both a silent and an all-talking version would be produced. Patrick Kearney was listed as the dialogue writer; however, only Herman J. Mankiewicz was credited in reviews for contributing dialogue. The length of the silent version was given as 7,311 and 7,313 feet.
       Reviews confirmed that both silent and sound versions were produced. The 15 Jun 1929 Motion Picture News review announced a 22 Jun 1929 release date. The film was declared a “corking entertainment” in the 30 Jun 1929 FD review, which noted von Sternberg’s “intelligent direction.”
       George Bancroft received an Academy Award nomination for his performance in Thunderbolt, at the second Academy Awards ceremony held in 1930. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Exhibitors Herald-World
20 Apr 1929
p. 50.
Film Daily
3 May 1928
p. 2.
Film Daily
18 Jan 1929
pp. 7-8.
Film Daily
27 Jan 1929
p. 12.
Film Daily
12 May 1929
p. 6.
Film Daily
30 Jun 1929
p. 12.
Motion Picture News
15 Jun 1929
p. 2095.
New York Times
21 Jun 1929
p. 17.
Variety
26 Jun 1929
p. 22.
DETAILS
Release Date:
22 June 1929
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 20 June 1929
Production Date:
began 9 March 1929
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Famous Lasky Corp.
Copyright Date:
20 June 1929
Copyright Number:
LP487
Physical Properties:
Sound
Movietone
Black and White
Sound, also silent
Also si; 7,311 or 7,313 ft.
Duration(in mins):
91
Length(in feet):
8,571 (sd)/7,311
Length(in reels):
8
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Thunderbolt Jim Lang, wanted on robbery and murder charges, ventures out with his girl, "Ritzy," to a Harlem nightclub, where she informs him that she is going straight. During a raid on the club, Thunderbolt escapes. His gang shadows Ritzy and reports that she is living with Mrs. Morgan, whose son, Bob, a bank clerk, is in love with Ritzy. Fearing for Bob's safety, Ritzy engineers a police trap for Thunderbolt; he escapes but is later captured, tried, and sentenced to be executed at Sing Sing. From the death house, he successfully plots to frame Bob in a bank robbery and killing. Bob is placed in the facing cell, and guards frustrate Thunderbolt's attempts to get to his rival. When Ritzy marries Bob in the death house, Thunderbolt pretends repentance, confessing his part in Bob's conviction. He plots to kill the boy on the night of his execution, but instead his hand falls on his shoulder in a gesture of ... +


Thunderbolt Jim Lang, wanted on robbery and murder charges, ventures out with his girl, "Ritzy," to a Harlem nightclub, where she informs him that she is going straight. During a raid on the club, Thunderbolt escapes. His gang shadows Ritzy and reports that she is living with Mrs. Morgan, whose son, Bob, a bank clerk, is in love with Ritzy. Fearing for Bob's safety, Ritzy engineers a police trap for Thunderbolt; he escapes but is later captured, tried, and sentenced to be executed at Sing Sing. From the death house, he successfully plots to frame Bob in a bank robbery and killing. Bob is placed in the facing cell, and guards frustrate Thunderbolt's attempts to get to his rival. When Ritzy marries Bob in the death house, Thunderbolt pretends repentance, confessing his part in Bob's conviction. He plots to kill the boy on the night of his execution, but instead his hand falls on his shoulder in a gesture of friendship. +

GENRE
Genre:
Sub-genre:
Crime, with songs


Subject

Subject (Minor):
Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.