Robert Mitchum sings THUNDER ROAD

Today is the late great Robert Mitchum’s birthday (Born August 6, 1917) so we wanted to pay tribute with a special post about one of our favorite films from his career, the 1958 southern fried crime drama THUNDER ROAD. Mitchum plays Luke Doolin, a Korean War vet who returns to his small Tennessee hometown and takes up the family biz of running illegal moonshine/white lightning to earn money. Luke is known for being untouchable when evading the police and Feds out on the country roads thanks to his suped up wheels. Soon he faces new trouble when a local gangster tries to take control of the moonshine rackets. Only Luke is one tough ol boy and won’t be kept under the thumbs of anyone for long. The movie runs fast and furious for its 93 minutes and is a crackerjack little gem. Singer Keely Smith plays Francie, Luke’s main squeeze and she performs in the film as well.

The Ballad of Thunder Road sung by Mitchum was not featured in the film but was released on the radio/record and has since become a special piece of 50s pop culture music.


– In the film Luke’s younger brother Robin is played by Mitchum’s son James. The part was originally given to Elvis Presley but due to his massive popularity at the time, the contract offered for him to co-star was more than the producers were willing to pay.

– Mitchum produced, co-wrote and also directed much of the film although he’s not credited for it.




Editor-In-Chief of The Grindhouse Cinema Database and Furious Cinema. Pete is an avid movie geek who enjoys everything from wild n' crazy exploitation and cult films to popular mainstream classics.

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