Retro Film Review- Convoy (1978)

Convoy‘ is an action-comedy directed by Sam Peckinpah and written by B. W. L. Norton. Its production was handled by EMI Films and it was released by United Artists. It is based on a country song from singer C. W. McCall.

On his birthday, trucker Martin “Rubber Duck” Penwald (Kris Kristofferson) is pulled over after speeding past photographer Melissa (Ali MacGraw), along with fellow truckers Bobby “Love Machine” (Burt Young) and “Spider” Mike (Franklyn Ajaye), by corrupt Arizona Sheriff Lyle “Dirty” Wallace (Ernest Borgnine). He hassles them until they agree to pay a “toll.” At a diner, Spider and Love Machine tease Lyle on the CB. He starts a fight with them and his deputies where other truckers join in. Realizing they have to get to New Mexico, Rubber Duck tells them to hit the road. Joined by Melissa, whose car has died, and female trucker “Widow Woman” (Madge Sinclair) more and more truckers join in the journey, even a Christian group led by Reverend Sloane (Donnie Fritts). Lyle continues to pursue them, but the convoy just “keeps on trucking” with their fame growing throughout the state.

This movie was made when during the “freedom of the road” phase of Hollywood. These include Chuck Norris‘ staring debut Breaker! Breaker! and Burt Reynolds cult classic Smokey and the Bandit. It almost feels like a historical marker on the road of cinema in that it was a movie that appealed to the common folks.

Now the movie had some issues. There were some odd cut scenes of car crashes with music that did not match what was going on. A few of the lines were cheesy and some of the jokes fall flat. The last act got somewhat muddled with the introduction of some newer antagonists and a subplot. I will say I do love the principal song “Convoy.”

The acting was pretty good. No one had a standout performance, but I enjoyed watching them portray their respective characters.

One of the most interesting is how this movie touches on different topics. It hits on serious topics like racism, government corruption, and justice, but unlike modern woke Hollywood, it uses its story to comment without shoving it down your throat or to pander. It offers opinions thoughtfully and not in a way that makes you cringe.

With its story and characters, the movie tells of a man who becomes a symbol of freedom after a few acts of defiance against an unjust and corrupt lawman. While wobbly for the reasons mentioned above, it celebrated the idea that a man or a woman can stand on their own two feet. It is something that Hollywood has lost sight of and this cult classic definitely shows the freedom of the open road.

While critics were tepid about the film, it remains Peckinpah’s most commercially successful feature, so it is clear it reached the audience. When this movie came out, the speed limit was set at the snail’s pace of 55 MPH for the highway. The idea of blue-collar workers standing up to the “man,” in this case, a corrupt sheriff and a sleazy politician played by Seymour Cassel was something any American could get behind.

Bottom line, Convoy is a cult classic and relic of a Hollywood that has long since ended. It is not perfect by any stretch, but I think it holds a place in cinema history.

PARENTAL CONCERNS: Some foul language, Violence, Brief sexuality

FAVORITE QUOTE: See, my daddy always told me to be just like a duck. Stay smooth on the surface and paddle like the devil underneath!

Check out the trailer below:

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below. Tell me if there is a comic book, movie, or novel you would like me to review. While you are at it, check out my reviews of Heat and The Inside Man. Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe for more posts like this one.

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