Wednesday, December 26, 2007

thinking about "Duel", here are some more ROCKIN' big-rig truck flix

(above) DUEL (1971); this is the poster released in Spain
(above) DUEL, 1971, US poster
(above and below) CONVOY (1978); above, the German poster

(above) BREAKDOWN (1997)
(above) HELL DRIVERS (1957)
(above) MAX MAX 2: THE ROAD WARRIOR (1981)
(above) SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT (1977)
(above) SORCERER (1977)
(above) WHITE LINE FEVER (1975)
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Just thinking about DUEL (below blog) got my mind racing about all the other great big rig pix I've seen over the years. Here are some of my favorites, working back thru time:
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BREAKDOWN (1997). In this suspense thriller, a man (played by Kurt Russell) discovers the unexpected danger of trusting a good Samaritan big rig trucker. Very gripping, even upsetting.
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THE TERMINATOR (1984). Amongst all the mayhem, Arnold Schwarzennegger climbs into a big rig tanker and lets 'er rip.
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THE ROAD WARRIOR (1981). Mel Gibson drives the oil tanker thru the Australian outback hell. The word great doesn't even come close.
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CONVOY (1978). The CB radio fad had nearly run its course when this action film was made by director Sam Pekinpah, based on C.W. McCall's song of the same name. Starring Kris Kristofferson (of course) and Ali McGraw (unfortunately). Kinda cheesy, but fulla big rigs.
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SORCERER (1977). A William Friedkin suspense thriller, starring Roy Scheider, an update on the Henri-Georges Clouzot film THE WAGES OF FEAR (1953). Once again, it's about hauling dynamite through the South American (Central American) jungle. Hugely suspenseful, but saddled with an unfortunate title.
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SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT (1977). Well . . . it's about trucks.
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WHITE LINE FEVER (1975). Trucker Carol Jo Hummer (played by Jan-Michael Vincent) borrows money to purchase a rig of his own, only to discover that part of his "payment plan" includes smuggling goods. Maybe this one is for truckers only.
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KILLDOZER (1974). Ok, maybe not a pure big rig thriller, but trucks and construction equipment pretty much go together. Here, as a made-for-TV movie, a dozer strikes a buried (radioactive) meteorite while unearthing an ancient native temple on a South Pacific island during WW II . . . and all hell breaks loose. A kult klassic.
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DUEL (1972). Man and big rig are pitted against one another in a motorized duel to the death. The screenwriter, Richard Matheson, conceived DUEL after a similar experience with a reckless trucker. The story first appeared in Playboy magazine, then was picked up for adaptation by the producers of The ABC Movie of the Week. The director chosen was a bright 23-year-old who'd shown promise on such series as Night Gallery and Columbo . . . Steven Spielberg. First telecast on December 18, 1971, DUEL was so popular that a somewhat longer version (with added violence, extra scenes, and profanity throughout) was prepared for theatrical release in 1983.
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NORTH BY NORTHWEST (1959). Starring Cary Grant, the bad-luck-encountering New York advertising exec takes on a cropduster and a georgeously vintage Freightliner COE big rig in the middle of nowhere, before ending up climbing the noses of the Mt. Rushmore sculptures.
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HELL DRIVERS (1957). This is a very efficient British crime drama starring Stanley Baker, in an exposition of a crooked trucking company. Keep yer eyes peeled for supporting performances by Patrick McGoohan as "Red," Sean Connery as "Tom," and David (Man From Uncle) McCallum as "Jimmy."
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THE WAGES OF FEAR (1953). Directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot and starring Yves Montand, this is the original on which SORCERER was based. Based on the great novel by Georges Arnaud. Here the truckers are transporting highly volatile nitroglycerine. Winner of the Grand Prix at the Cannes Festival. "A relentless, goosebump-inducing assault on the audience's senses."
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HIGHWAY 301 (1950). Showcasing the bloody exploits of the notorious "Tri-State Gang" which preyed upon truck drivers. The bad-ass gang leader, played by Steve Cochrane, leads authorities on a grim chase through Virginia, North Carolina, and Maryland.
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THIEVES HIGHWAY (1949). Set in San Francisco and the surrounding counties, an American GI returns from WW II to find his father Yanko in a feud with crooked truck driver Mike Figlia (played by Lee J. Cobb of "On the Waterfront" fame), buys a truck himself, and falls deep into racketeering.
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THEY DRIVE BY NIGHT (1940). The great one (or at least for truck buffs, the first half). George Raft and Humphrey Bogart are truck driving brothers in a true working-class pic. Beautiful Ann Sheridan is one of the love interests but the film is almost entirely focused on the nefarious Ida Lupino. The trucking scenes--up to the point where the Raft character becomes a successful truck line manager and suddenly the film takes off in an unexpected melodramatic direction ending up in a courtroom with Lupino dramatically falling apart--are magnificently gritty. These are the Lincoln Highway trucks, the Chicago stockyard trucks, the New York docks trucks, the real deal.
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Did I miss any? Lemme know . . .
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4 comments:

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