Retrospektive 2018


Phil Karlson
USA 1948
77 min

Zu Beginn seiner langen Karriere inszenierte der Noir-Kultregisseur Phil Karlson einige innovative B-Filme. Zu den erfolgreichsten, jedoch rarsten gehört THUNDERHOOF, in dem er Elemente seiner renommierten 1950er-Produktionen vorwegnimmt und dessen Cast mit drei Schauspielern sowie – als Titelhelden – einem Pferd auskommt. Zutaten wie freudianisch inspirierte Vatermordsszenarien und Melvilles „Moby Dick“ prägen in eindrucksvollen Szenen den Nachkriegswestern neu, wobei nach Hawks’schem Vorbild ein Pferd ebenso viel zählt wie die Angebetete.



In the first stage of his long career, cult noir director Phil Karlson thrived as a contract helmer of inventive B-films in a wide variety of genres; from service comedies and musicals to minor entries in the Charlie Chan and Bowery Boys series. Among Karlson’s best early works is the strangely forgotten THUNDERHOOF, a psychosexually intense Western that succinctly presages his later, and now justly celebrated, studies of strained masculinity (99 RIVER STREET, THE BROTHERS RICO). THUNDERHOOF is admirably resourceful, making the most of a cast of just four actors, including the titular steed, an elusive wild horse pursued with obsessive doggedness by an aging cowboy, played with grizzled intensity by an alternately avuncular and wrathful Preston Foster, a veteran actor favored by Karlson. Dragged along on Foster’s hunt for his White Whale are the cowboy’s too-young Mexican wife and a hotshot wrangler and adopted son now increasingly resentful of the strained filial bond to a man he is coming to despise. Channeling the Freudian and patricidal undercurrents reinventing the postwar Western, THUNDERHOOF wastes none of its short running time to ratchet up the tension as the men quickly lock into a paranoid competition that, in Hawksian fashion, increasingly conflates horse and bride. (Haden Guest)




  • Mary Stuart
  • William Bishop
  • Dice
  • Preston Foster
  • Harold Jacob Smith
  • Kenneth Gamet
  • Henry Freulich
Columbia Pictures
35 mm
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