“Like Underworld before it, Thunderbolt is less a gangster film than a gangster fantasy. Its speech is stylized, its noise of gunfire muted. . . . [Sternberg's first talkie] is, in retrospect, a startling experiment with the kind of asynchronous sound that Eisenstein and Pudovkin were issuing manifestos about at the time” (Andrew Sarris). As in Underworld, the plot involves a triangle with a gangster played by George Bancroft at one of its sharp points. This time Bancroft is Thunderbolt Jim Lang, and Fay Wray is his girl Ritzy, who goes straight-into the arms of bank clerk Richard Arlen-then turns him in. From his jail cell, Thunderbolt manages to frame his rival in a murder plot, and the two meet again on death row.

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