October 6, 2011, 7:00 P.M.

The Ray Stark Family Theatre, SCA 108, George Lucas Building USC School of Cinematic Arts Complex, 900 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007

Cinematheque108 invites you and a guest to a special screening of

Rolling Thunder (1977)

Directed by John Flynn
Written by Paul Schrader and Heywood Gould
Introduced by David Lerner, SCA Critical Studies PhD Candidate

7:00 P.M. on Thursday, October 6th, 2011

The Ray Stark Family Theatre

George Lucas Building, SCA 108
900 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007


About Rolling Thunder (1977)

After spending seven years in a Vietnamese prison camp, Major Charles Rane (William Devane) returns to his San Antonio home to find a different country than the one he left. Rane gives stoic speeches about patriotism and honor, but he moves through town like a zombie, alienated from his family and traumatized by past tortures. When the community pays tribute to his military service with a briefcase full of silver dollars, a group of thugs (including fellow Vietnam veterans) breaks into Rane’s home, steals the coins, mutilates his hand, and kills his wife and son. Seeking revenge, Rane is outfitted with a hook to replace his hand as he sets off on a single-minded and violent journey across the Southwest. Paul Schrader and Heywood Gould’s script bring the Vietnam war home in this intense and often troubling exploration of 1970s masculine trauma. Directed by John Flynn, co-starring Tommy Lee Jones, James Best, Luke Askew.

35mm print provided courtesy of Swank Motion Pictures. Rated R. Running time: 95 minutes.

To learn more about the film, click here.


About the Event

In a brief introduction to the film, David Lerner will discuss Rolling Thunder in the context of the development of the exploitation film industry in the 1970s. Although the production was originally developed and financed by 20th Century Fox, a notoriously unruly test screening led the studio to sell the film to exploitation stalwart American International Pictures. AIP focused its marketing campaign on the most saleable images from the film for the urban grindhouse market (Rane’s hook hand), and played up its Texas locations for the sprawling Southern drive-in network. However, the attempts to sell the film as a Southern-fried Taxi Driver belie the quiet intensity of a film that could be positioned just as snugly in the canon of New American Cinema. The opening introduction will explore the production history and evolving critical reception of Rolling Thunder as a way to open up a dialogue about changes in the American film business in the late 1970s. It will also contextualize the film with respect to previous representations of Vietnam war veterans in both mainstream and exploitation films.

Schedules permitting, the screening will be followed by a Q&A with cast and crew from the film.

About David Lerner

David Lerner is a doctoral candidate in Critical Studies in the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California. His dissertation explores the development and demise of the American exploitation film industry from 1960 to 1980, with particular emphasis on the cultural and legal negotiations enacted to justify provocative representations. He recently published a chapter in the anthology CINEMA INFERNO (2010), and has an article forthcoming in QUARTERLY REVIEW OF FILM AND VIDEO.

About Cinematheque108

Cinematheque108 is an alternative screening series sponsored by the Critical Studies Department at the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts. The series offers a rare selection of events that highlight noteworthy experimental, documentary, and/or foreign films, many of which can not be seen anywhere else. Cinematheque108 is an educational forum that aims to expand understanding of alternative film and media. All screenings are free of charge and open to the pubic.

About Parking

The USC School of Cinematic Arts is located at 900 W. 34th St., Los Angeles, CA 90007. Parking passes may be purchased for $8.00 at USC Entrance Gate #5, located at the intersection of W. Jefferson Blvd. & McClintock Avenue. We recommend parking in outdoor Lot M or V, or Parking Structure D, at the far end of 34th Street. Please note that Parking Structure D cannot accommodate tall vehicles such as SUVs. Metered parking is also available along Jefferson Blvd.

Contact Information

Name: Alessandro Ago