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Thunderbolt (1946)

James Stewart , John Sturges , William Wyler  |  NR |  DVD
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: James Stewart
  • Directors: John Sturges, William Wyler
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Gaiam - Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: May 15, 2001
  • Run Time: 45 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005B1YH
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #106,823 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Academy Award-winner William Wyler (Ben-Hur) and nominee John Sturges (Bad Day at Black Rock) co-directed this documentary about the U.S. Army Air Force's P-47 Thunderbolt fighter bomber. Oscar winner James Stewart (The Philadelphia Story) introduces this dramatic account of the vital role played by the P-47 during the Italian campaign, narrated by Commanding General Carl Spotz. Through genuine combat footage, taken from plane-mounted cameras, you'll fly with these P-47 pilots in "Operation Strangle" to bomb bridges, strafe enemy supply trains, and blast munitions storehouses. Introduced by James Stewart

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
197 of 199 people found the following review helpful
This DVD has been taken from a early-forties era documentary film made with Stateside audiences in mind. It was probably shown in theaters before the main shows during the war years. One of the big pluses is that the film is in color, and that the color is strikingly good for a combat film. Directed by Academy Award winner William Wyler (best known for 'Ben-Hur' and the original documentary of 'The Memphis Belle'), the film depicts life--and death--in a P-47 Thunderbolt squadron based in Italy. It gives the viewer a good look at Italy, not just the base itself. The strafing runs are excellent, taken by a camera mounted in the planes on actual missions. For a wartime propaganda film, it is quite honest and deals with the suffering of noncombatants, showing bombed-out buildings, children playing near a burned corpse, and haggard, war-weary men and women. The aerial footage is excellent, the dialogue is good, and the quality of the picture is also good. The film also shows the tragic results of a Thunderbolt crash quite graphically, as if to remind the viewer that war is a dangerous game and that there is never any guarantee that the pilots will return from their missions. This color film runs around 45 minutes. It is well worth the price.
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74 of 75 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The "other" Classic WW2 Documentary in Color June 11, 2003
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Along with "Memphis Belle" this fine film stands up there with the best documentary features of the era. Using wartime film equipment, (no fancy Hollywood gear!) William Wyler (Ben-Hur) did his part for the war effort, with style and class (and a little humor!). A combination of propaganda and straight up honest filmmaking, 'Thunderbolt' is a film worth buying.
Shot on 16mm Kodachrome, You wont see ultrafine images or glorious sound. The color and contrast are sometimes harsh. But this was War, and filmmaking in a combat zone isn't easy, under harsh conditions Wyler's film survived to become the true classic it is today.
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60 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Little Film August 9, 2004
This is a great little documentary about an important part of WW II, the Italian campaign, that is too often over looked. Some of the footage is a bit out of focus but other sections have some great footage. The 57 FS "The First in the Blue" documented in the film was the first US air group engaged in the war fighting all the way from Palestine and across North Africa. I can't imagine there are many better $5 deals out there.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This film has a personal family history November 8, 2003
By A Customer
The opening shots of the airfield, show a Thunderbolt named "DOTTIE". Dottie is my mother, and the pilot was her husband, George Lovato. The scene in the bar with a pilot playing an accordian is George. He sang and recorded a couple of records prior to the war. On October 31st, 1944, George Lovato and his plane "Dottie" went Missing in Action.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thunderbolt - WW II Documentary January 27, 2011
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is a William Wyler and John Sturges co-directed documentary filmed on Corsica and using actual World War II combat film footage from over Italy. The combat footage is from cameras mounted on various P-47 Thunderbolts that took part in the operations described. We not only see the actual combat footage filmed from the P-47 cameras but get a view of the life of the pilot and their crew when at the airfield.

The commanding general, General Carl Spotz, does the narration and does an excellent job in explaining what is not only obvious but the thoughts that most of the pilots had at the time of a particular portion of the mission you are viewing. His narration does not convey the stress and boredom that waiting for actual combat entails. Though alluded to in earlier deployments in passing and the emphasis that what we are seeing is considered a resort to the pilots after the North African Campaign.

The film though obviously edited for the American public and does explaining and show how what a pilot sees from the air is the countryside and not the ramifications of the war on the people involved on the ground. This short documentary for the low price is well worth getting though it would have been even better if released in wide screen.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty interesting February 23, 2010
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
A documentary made during the war about one of the key fighters of the time. The Jug was the biggest single engine fighter produced during the war and when used correctly it was a pure winner. It was strong and well armed and could take as much punishment as it could dish out. I decided to add this to my library when I saw the price and I'm glad I did.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars They flew for freedom......... May 30, 2012
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
THUNDERBOLT (Made in 1945 but released in 1947) Directed by William
Wyler and John Sturges.

Starring James Stewart, Lloyd Bridges and Robert Lowery.

A technicolor documentary concerning a P-47 Thunderbolt fighter
bomber squadron operating out of Corsica during the Italian Campaign in
1944 covering the period from January, 1944 up to and past the taking
of Rome by American forces. The film details the squadron's bombing of
bridges and roads behind the German lines thus crippling the ability of
the Wehrmacht to reinforce the troops at the front eventually
contributing to its eventual retreat into northern Italy. The film
also documents the life of the pilots between missions at their base
and in Corsica proper. They drink. They swim. They smoke. They play
with their cute puppies. There are some comments concerning Fascist
Italy that shows that, while time has turned them into a punchline in a
historical joke, they were not that funny to the men who had to fight

The documentary is introduced by Stewart. Bridges does the voices
of the pilots and Lowery does the main narration.

Extremely good and no nonsense, it covers a front of WW 2 that is
rarely touched upon and contains much remarkable footage.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars master of the sky
My favorite us aircraft
Published 12 days ago by fiber
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Not the best I have viewed.
Published 16 days ago by JonLePew
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Good stuff.
Published 19 days ago by Joe Man
5.0 out of 5 stars If you have any interest in the airplanes used in ...
If you have any interest in the airplanes used in WW1 & WWII this is a decent addition to your collection.
Published 1 month ago by Philip B Wood
5.0 out of 5 stars You won't see any Hollywood movies this accurate concerning flying
Great history lesson. Really gives the perspective from the guys in the cockpit. Great classic battle footage. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Flier1
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Good documentary on the life of the pilots in Corsica while completing missions in Italy during WWII
Published 1 month ago by Felix Rivera
4.0 out of 5 stars This is a pretty dark DVD
This is a pretty dark DVD. The VHS tape I had 30 years ago was a better presentation. Compared to never getting a chance to see it, this DVD is a fair deal.
Published 2 months ago by MB01
5.0 out of 5 stars Dad joined the Army Air Corps in WWII, served ...
Dad joined the Army Air Corps in WWII, served in Korea and Vietnam. He is living with Alzheimer's now but is glued to the screen when I put the old movies on.
Published 2 months ago by Patricia Matheson
3.0 out of 5 stars It was a good movie but not what I expected
It was a good movie but not what I expected. It was more about the unit and life at the time. I really wanted to see more in depth reporting about the aircraft.
Published 2 months ago by John D. Moors
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Love good old movies. This in not one of those.
Published 2 months ago by michael cratty
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