Blue Thunder (1983)

Blue Thunder (1983)

Taglines: Taglines: The skies will never be the same!

Blue Thunder is a specially modified helicopter. It is for police work, but is armed and designed to counter street insurgencies. Its makers want to show what it will do, but have to train Los Angeles Police pilot Frank Murphy to fly and use it in order to allow it to operate in the city. Murphy and the project pilot have differences going back to Vietnam. The conflict between them continues to heat up as Murphy begins to suspect that Blue Thunder is more than has been disclosed.

Blue Thunder is a 1983 action thriller film from Columbia Pictures, produced by Gordon Carroll, Phil Feldman, and Andrew Fogelson and directed by John Badham. The film features a high-tech helicopter of the same name and stars Roy Scheider, Warren Oates, Candy Clark, Daniel Stern, and Malcolm McDowell. A spin-off television series also called Blue Thunder lasted 11 episodes in 1984.

About the Story

Frank Murphy (Roy Scheider) is a Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) helicopter-pilot-officer and troubled Vietnam War veteran with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). His newly assigned field partner is Richard Lymangood (Daniel Stern). The two patrol Los Angeles at night and give assistance to police forces on the ground.

Murphy is selected to pilot the world’s most advanced helicopter, nicknamed “Blue Thunder”, a military-style combat aircraft intended for police use in surveillance and against possible large-scale civic disobedience during the forthcoming Olympic games. With powerful armament, stealth technology that allows it to fly virtually undetected and other accoutrements such as infrared scanners, powerful microphones and cameras, and a U-Matic VCR, Blue Thunder appears to be a formidable tool in the war on crime. Murphy notes wryly that with enough of these helicopters “you could run the whole damn country.”

When the death of city councilwoman Diane McNeely turns out to be more than just a random murder, Murphy begins his own covert investigation. He discovers that a subversive action group is intending instead to use Blue Thunder in a military role to quell disorder under the project codename THOR (for “Tactical Helicopter Offensive Response”), and is secretly eliminating political opponents to advance its agenda.

Murphy suspects the involvement of his old wartime nemesis, former United States Army Colonel F.E. Cochrane (Malcolm McDowell), the primary test pilot for Blue Thunder and someone who felt Murphy was “unsuitable” for the program. Murphy and Lymangood use Blue Thunder to record a meeting between Cochrane and the other government officials which would implicate them in the conspiracy, but Cochrane looks out the window and sees Blue Thunder and realizes what has happened.

After landing, Lymangood secures the tape and hides it, but is captured upon returning to his home, interrogated, and killed while trying to escape. Murphy steals Blue Thunder and arranges to have his girlfriend Kate (Candy Clark) retrieve the tape and deliver it to the local news station, using the helicopter to thwart her pursuers. Kate arrives at the news station, but is almost captured by one of the conspirators; the reporter Kate was sent to find intercepts Kate and gets the tape back, while the conspirator is knocked unconscious by a security guard.

Blue Thunder Movie Poster (1983)

Blue Thunder (1983)

Directed by: John Badham
Starring: Roy Scheider, Warren Oates, Candy Clark, Daniel Stern, David Sheiner, Malcolm McDowell, Jason Bernard, James Murtaugh
Screenplay by: Dan O’Bannon, Don Jakoby
Production Design by: Sydney Z. Litwack
Cinematography by: John A. Alonzo
Film Editing by: Edward M. Abroms, Frank Morriss
Costume Design by: Marianna Elliott
Set Decoration by: Mickey S. Michaels
Art Direction by: Bernie Cutler
Music by: Arthur B. Rubinstein
Distributed by: Columbia Pictures
Release Date: May 13, 1983