Over the Top was the last big push of iconic trucker movies to come out of the 70s. However, Hollywood has a rich tradition in the genre. Check your CB airwaves before setting out with us as we look at some of our favorite big rig films.
‘Over the Top’
Sure, this Sylvester Stallone flick is centered on arm wrestling. However, Sly’s day job in the film is driving a slick diesel truck. In 1987’s Over the Top, Stallone plays Lincoln Hawk, a struggling father and resilient trucker. He aims to win a Las Vegas arm-wrestling contest with a $100,000 cash prize. For some reason, the prize also includes a brand new semi that Hawk hopes will be the start of his own trucking business.
All the while, Hawk is bonding with his estranged preteen son. Full of 80s cheese and essential Stallone training montages, this one is a real crowd-pleaser.
‘Smokey and the Bandit’
The cultural impact of 1977’s Smokey and the Bandit is staggering. Directed by veteran stuntman Hal Needham, the film was a box office smash, coming in behind only Star Wars that year. Jerry Reed’s “East Bound and Down” from the soundtrack was so evocative that comedian Danny McBride named his HBO comedy series, Eastbound & Down as tribute.
The film showcases a stellar lineup of actors, such as Jackie Gleason, and Sally Field as it delves into the clandestine world of bootlegging alcohol across state borders. Jerry Reed plays the trucker transporting the booze, while a peak Burt Reynolds as the Bandit is enlisted to distract authorities with wild automotive antics. It also happens to feature one of the coolest cars in cinema history…
Brace yourself to witness a clean-shaven Chuck Norris in his first starring role. Though Chuck had appeared in smaller parts before this iconic trucker movie, this is his first time in the lead. The Walker, Texas Ranger legend portrays the role of J.D. He’s on a quest to locate his missing trucker brother.
Together with the local truckers, Chuck turns the town upside down in search of his brother and the corrupt judge responsible for his disappearance. J.D. essentially destroys the entire town with his big rig. Of course, Breaker, Breaker, is a phrase used to request permission to speak on a CB channel.
1978’s Convoy rode the wave of popularity truckers were enjoying in the wake of Smokey and the Bandit. Kris Kristofferson and Ali MacGraw take the lead in this action-comedy directed by Sam Peckinpah. Filled with CB slang and showcasing the picturesque landscapes of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, Convoy offers a nostalgic glimpse into that era. Of course, it’s named for the country hit “Convoy,” by C.W. McCall.
‘They Drive by Night’
This 1940s film noir released by Warner Brothers was the first trucker film to hook general audiences. George Raft and Humphrey Bogart play Paul and Joe Fabrini, brothers who run a trucking business in California, transporting farm produce to the bustling markets of Los Angeles.
Despite financial hardships, they must navigate the treacherous world of corrupt businessmen while competing for jobs. One night, their lives intertwine with Cassie Hartley, a talented waitress portrayed by Ann Sheridan, as they witness the tragic demise of a mutual acquaintance. This incident fuels their determination to find success in their chosen vocation.
Directed by Raul Walsh, who would helm James Cagney’s seminal White Heat, nine years later, They Drive by Night set Bogart up for superstardom.
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