I Saw A Film!

Sometimes nothing can solve your problems and the only answer is the independent trucker (cue Big Black’s “The Power of Independent Trucking” no seriously, go right now). Jerry Reed (fresh off Burt Reynold’s films) is a family man trucker who along with pal Peter Fonda must face off against corruption and organized crime in the trucking industry. To make things a bit more spicy, bring on a spice girl in the form of a feisty, wise-crackin’ Helen Shaver who plays “Pickup” because, you know, she drives a pick-up. She might have been called Magnum, as she wields a remarkable pistol the length of her leg when the going gets tough, but she’s not without her charms.

As I’ve said elsewhere, while the trucker movie itself is a kind of formulaic franchise of working-class hopefulness overturning the dominance of evil rich overlords who, like in any capitalist system, exploit labor for their own profit and tend not to be very good at sharing, the CB Radio (it’s called “rah-DID-io” by Pickup at one point) chatter, general lack of anything that looks like actual trucking work, prevalence of abandoned dirt roads for the scenes and at least one unlikely bedroom coupling tend to make the genre fairly laughable. Especially, at this distance. Lemmee git my binoculars out!

Having said all that, it’s hard not to love a good working-class ethical hero tale. In this story the ethics aren’t too hard to come by. The independent truckers are being ripped off and badly beaten by a team of thugs hired by a conglomerate trying to wrest the business away from them.

I have to complain mainly about one sequence in which the fellows have to get their rig under a low bridge (a classic conundrum). Their load of race cars is too tall and so they let air out of the truck tires to get under. They could have just let air out of the top car tires . . . or unloaded the top cars and crept under the bridge . . . but this is a fine point. They get around having 18 flat tires by airing up with an onboard compressor, which I have to imagine would have taken all day to bring back to pressure. Low-end fantasy here.

Most of the action in this film takes place on muddy dirty roads, as I mentioned. I presume because they could close these things off, or treat them as dirt tracks for the sequences. Soon enough the gun play is rolled out and what started out as a film about uncovering and foiling the bad guys (no one thinks to call the law- Smokies don’t really exist in this universe, despite the obvious one on the poster along with a German Shepherd (I must have stepped away for a refill)) soon becomes a thriller about a psychopath armed with machine guns. Yikes!

The baddies soon kidnap our boys’ love interest in the form of the cute Pickup, and they’re forced into about as much action as you can possibly get without Chuck Norris (I’ve not yet reviewed the wonderfully on point Breaker! Breaker! Truckers and Karate! But I will, I promise).

This is free on Prime and a good bit of fun while you’re coloring in your coloring books, or preparing covid itinerary.

One thought on “High-Ballin’ (1978)

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