There aren’t many, but we love them anyway. Back in the 70s, Hollywood began working pretty hard to mythologize the truck driving lifestyle. There were TV shows, movies and lots of music that attempted to make legend of the knights of the highway. They had the nation obsessed with big rigs and CB Lingo. Millions tuned in weekly to see what Claude Aiken or Greg Evigan were up to. They nearly made Smokey & The Bandit the top grossing movie of 1977, until some cheeky upstart named George Lucas slammed the door on virtually every movie made for the next 2 years.
Either way, we thought, “Why not just get some of our old trucking favorites together on one page?” So here we go.
This one almost didn’t make it to the screen due to actor / director differences and the production went way over budget. But it’s a good one. So the story goes – In 1978, the National Maximum Speed limits all highway traffic to just 55 mph (these days we’re headed the complete opposite direction). The hardline, hard-living truckers of the 70s don’t much like this regulatory overhaul and they’re willing to fight with the law to show it. Feel like those days of standing up for your working rights will ever come back?
White Line Fever tells the story of Carroll Jo Hummer, an independent long haul trucker whose whole life is tied up in two things: his wife and his truck The Blue Mule. Like any truck driving family, they need money and don’t turn down a lot of payloads. When his greasy boss Duane puts the arm on Hummer to deliver illegal cigarettes and slot machines, Carroll Jo refuses to go along. This prompts other wildcat truckers looking to buck the system. Unfortunately he also becomes the target of a vicious campaign of intimidation endorsed by the corporate slime balls who have lawmen on their payroll.
This one is kind of obscure, but many truckers know it well. The movie follows an honest truck driver named Robert Morgan, who gets caught up in battling a Nazi crime syndicate in Mexico. He enlists the help of some of his tough trucker friends, who help capture the Nazi boss and bring peace back to the community. Ah yes, the old “crime-fighting trucker” movie genre. That sort of thing did much better when made into TV series.
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1977 wasn’t complete unless you got your fill of screwball road comedies like this star maker. The story surrounds a simple premise – two rich guys want beer that isn’t sold in Georgia yet (Coors, to be exact WTF?) so they propose to pay legendary law dodger and smuggler Bo “Bandit” Darville to bring a whole payload of it to them for $80,000 (about the price of a new Class 8 tractor back in 1977). Along the way, Bandit accidentally picks up a runaway bride who was to marry the local sheriff’s son, which puts more heat on the operation than they planned for. Movie goers loved this so much, they made a sequel. It did fairly well, but Burt Reynolds was done with the role for good.
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Part survivalist drama, part trucking action, this remake of The Wages of Fear put some incredible imagery on screen. Unfortunately it had so many production and marketing problems, the movie barely made any money. Which is a shame, since it is actually a good film. The story revolves around four desperate men on the run from various officers or criminals who only have one way out of a one horse town in Central America – driving dynamite through extremely hazardous jungle terrain. If you have the time and a Netflix account, you should check it out.
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