Clint Eastwood Forums

General Information => Questions & Answers => Topic started by: DixieWhistler on February 25, 2004, 07:52:52 PM

Title: What was wrong with Lightfoot?
Post by: DixieWhistler on February 25, 2004, 07:52:52 PM
Just finished watching "Thunderbolt and Lightfoot".  Excellent movie if I say so myself.  But I diddn't really get what was wrong with Lightfoot?

Title: Re:What was wrong with Lightfoot?
Post by: KC on February 25, 2004, 09:53:02 PM
Welcome to the Board, DixieWhistler! We had a discussion about this a couple of years ago, but the Board has changed servers since then, and I guess that thread is lost.

Lightfoot apparently suffered a severe head injury during the beating he received at the hands (and feet) of Red. Maybe someone can fill in the details?
Title: Re:What was wrong with Lightfoot?
Post by: Matt on February 25, 2004, 10:12:04 PM
If you re-watch the scene of Lightfoot's beating by Red, you'll notice that the final kick to the head is very severe... that is most likely when the most damage occured. From that moment on, Lightfoot shows all the symptoms of a cerebral hemorrhage. The acting in these scenes is fantastic... rewatch them and look for these signs that indicate the hemorrhage:  his balance was off, he looked dizzy, dazed, he seemed to have trouble with his vision, watch for him rubbing his hands or legs to indicate numbness. His speech and motor functions became less functional as time passed and as more bleeding within the brain occured. Toward the end, he could barely walk or speak. All these symptoms intensified in the last moments of the film, eventually leading to his death.  :'(

Welcome to the board DixieWhistler. I'm glad you enjoyed that film, it's one of my favorites... and Jeff Bridges is absolutely incredible in that role (as is Clint as Thunderbolt).

As a matter of fact, we'll be having one of our big film discussions on Thunderbolt and Lightfoot coming up in a short while (not the NEXT discussion we have planned, but the one that will follow it).  I hope you'll be sticking around the board and will join in on those discussions, as well as all the other Eastwood threads here on the board. :)
Title: Re:What was wrong with Lightfoot?
Post by: DixieWhistler on February 25, 2004, 11:51:50 PM
Well, that sound about right to me(that damn George Kennedy)!  Yes, I agree that Jeff Bridges was phenominal(sp).  Ive allways enojyed his movies, and you can tell he has talent when he is just as good of an actor back then, as he is now.  Yup, I figure ill watch it at least a few more times before the discussion takes place,  so ill be ready!
Title: Re:What was wrong with Lightfoot?
Post by: vik on February 26, 2004, 02:44:58 AM
clint's acting here is great as well - starts off surprised at lightfoot's behaviour then cross then confused and finally i guess sad
Title: Re:What was wrong with Lightfoot?
Post by: John Omohundro on March 05, 2004, 02:11:28 PM

Not being a doctor, I can't be entirely certain, but it's also possible that Lightfoot could have suffered what is referred to as a contre-coup  injury (also known as a coup-contre coup injury), by the medical profession. That's a particularly severe form of brain injury which occurs as the result of the direct application of force to the head, which is what would have happened to Lightfoot when Red Leary (George Kennedy) kicked him in the head.

Essentially, what happens with this type of injury is that the brain suffers TWO forms of injury: the initial injury itself, or the coup, in the area where the original blow was struck, and the secondary injury,  or contre-coup, which occurs when the area of the brain opposite the part of the skull that sustained the impact is damaged, because the victim's brain literally bounced off of the inside of his skull as a result of the blow.

Judging by the gradual deterioration of Lightfoot's coordination and the slurring of his speech, I would guess that his brain's speech center and motor control center (the part that regulates voluntary motion and coordination, i.e., walking and such) were affected first, followed by the gradual deterioration of his involuntary actions (heartbeat, breathing, etc.) as his brainstem or medulla oblongata (the areas of the brain that control such things) were affected by the injury, which led to his death.

The effect could have been caused by internal hemorrhaging into the brain itself, or by swelling of the injured area as a result of the initial impact, which could bring about death as a result of incresed pressure on the medulla oblongata or brainstem. Either one is a possibility with that type of brain injury. The effect would be similar to that of a massive cerebral hemorrhage, as Matt mentioned in his post, but would be the result of an externally-applied force, whereas cerebral hemorrhages are usually--but not always--triggered by natural causes, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, or arteriosclerosis.

At any rate, if that was the type of head injury that Lightfoot received, he was pretty much done for. The normal remedy for such an injury is emergency brain surgery to relieve the pressure and repair as much damage as is possible (i.e., stopping any bleeding), as well as drug treatments to reduce the swelling of the brain itself. I believe that such procedures, while advanced, were available in 1974 (when the film was made).  

I myself underwent surgery for what could be called "a hereditary closed-head brain injury" only 2 years later (I'm hydrocephalic--look it up if you're curious, because the explanation is rather complicated--and I've had between 15 and 20 surgeries for it, starting when I was about 2 years old (I'll be 40 on May 30 of this year)). However, I'm not certain whether Thunderbolt (Clint Eastwood) could have gotten his partner to a hospital in time, even had he realized what was happening to him (and besides, Lightfoot's death was part of the script  ;)).

Hope this answers your question.

--John Omohundro
Title: Re:What was wrong with Lightfoot?
Post by: KC on March 07, 2004, 10:43:42 AM
Wow, John ... it sounds like you've had to endure a lot in your lifetime! I'm glad you're still with us and making such detailed and knowledgeable posts!

There's an absolutely revolting scene in Mystic River where a young man (Brendan Harris) stomps on the face of a 13-year-old boy, hard, three times. The boy's nose is broken, but in a few minutes, he's on his feet and brandishing a gun. This is in the way of action films, of course, but Mystic River is a very serious-minded movie, and I can't help wondering whether it wouldn't be more realistic for the boy to be much more seriously injured than he appears.
Title: Re:What was wrong with Lightfoot?
Post by: John Omohundro on March 08, 2004, 02:20:08 PM
Thanks, KC!  :)

I know we've never met (face-to-face, anyway   ;)), but I do appreciate the sentiment in your kind remarks.