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  Convoy Talented Truckers
Year: 1978
Director: Sam Peckinpah
Stars: Kris Kristofferson, Ali MacGraw, Ernest Borgnine, Burt Young, Madge Sinclair, Franklyn Ajaye, Brian Davies, Seymour Cassel, Cassie Yates, Walter Kelley, Jackson D. Kane, Billy E. Hughes, Whitey Hughes, Bill Coontz, Tommy J. Huff, Larry Spaulding
Genre: Comedy, Drama, ActionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Rubber Duck (Kris Kristofferson) is a truck driver travelling along a stretch of highway across the southern states of America when a young woman, Melissa (Ali MacGraw), in a sports car catches his eye. They play a game, overtaking one another and Melissa snapping photographs of Rubber Duck until they notice, almost too late, the police car speeding towards them to spoil their fun, a police car that they accidentally run off the road. They are forced to stop and the cop goes over to Rubber Duck and is going to fine him right there until the cop is told that Melissa was driving in a state of undress - Rubber Duck certainly has a way of talking his way out of trouble, but will he meet his match in Sheriff Dirty Lyle (Ernest Borgnine)?

Convoy was one of those films based on a popular song, this one a drawling country number by C.W. McCall that captured the imagination of the public for a while, but would it stretch to a full length movie? Another one of those films that director Sam Peckinpah had production troubles with considering he was inebriated for most of the shoot, the song was adapted by Bill L. Norton (writer and director of Cisco Pike), and is often accused of being a vague ramble around the lyrics, and it's true it was better as a song. However, you can see where Peckinpah's interest lay, with its modern outlaw hero and in some ways, an outlaw villain as well, taking centre stage.

It's well known that David Icke thinks that Kristofferson is a shape shifting alien reptile, but all he has to do is watch him in Convoy and to see him standing up to The Man - I think Icke would recognise the error of his ways pretty promptly. Here, Rubber Duck is a noble but down to earth hero who becomes a leader despite himself, and embraced as such by a group of people looking for guidance but let down by the more conventional powers that be. It all starts when Lyle makes trouble at a diner, trying to arrest Rubber Duck's friend Spider Mike (Franklyn Ajaye) on a flimsy charge while R.D. is getting his birthday present in the back of his truck from a waitress.

Rubber Duck stumbles into the diner just in time to stop Lyle, but unfortunately just in time to start a fight as well, and after a cliché brawl the cops are subdued and the truckers, who Peckinpah wishes us to view as the modern equivalent of the cowboys of the Old West, make good their escape. They're not going to get away that easily, of course, and soon Lyle is pursuing them, but as this is an action movie, he bungles it and crashes through a billboard, all in trademark Peckinpah slow motion (even the regulation hen house destruction is in slow motion, with artfully staged flapping chickens).

This film isn't called Convoy for nothing and soon there is a long line of trucks and other vehicles, including the ever welcome Jesus Freaks (that singing over the loudspeaker must have got old pretty fast), following Rubber Duck and his band, with Melissa, who needs a ride (and a different hairdo), in the passenger seat. Then the convoy transforms into a national phenomenon, complete with news crews and the Governor (Seymour Cassel) all wanting a piece of the action. Naturally this all seems very artificial, and the inspirational aspect never convinces, but you can enjoy it if you forget that a big line of trucks passing by the camera can get a little repetitive after a while. About as dated as the C.B. radios and lingo the characters use (it was the Internet of the day!), Convoy sums up that jaded, novelty feel of the late seventies as much as any film of its era. Music by Chip Davis.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Sam Peckinpah  (1925 - 1984)

American writer and director, a hard-drinking, producer-hating maverick who was as much reviled as he was admired. After a spell in the armed forces, he moved into television with a succession of westerns, and graduated to film with The Deadly Companions and cult classic Ride the High Country. When he worked on Major Dundee, the problems started, and, as would happen many times subsequently, the film was recut against his wishes.

In 1969, Peckinpah won huge respect for The Wild Bunch, which saw him employ the vivid, bloody violence that would become his trademark. He spent the seventies crafting a series of notable thrillers and westerns, such as the humorous Ballad of Cable Hogue, the reflective Junior Bonner, controversial Straw Dogs, hit Steve McQueen vehicle The Getaway, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, the intense, one-of-a-kind Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, The Killer Elite, WWII story Cross of Iron, and comparitively light hearted Convoy.

Throughout this decade, Peckinpah's reputation amongst studios dropped to such an extent that he could barely find work by the eighties, and his last film, The Osterman Weekend, represented an attempt to reclaim past glories. Sadly, he died shortly after it was completed, while planning to bring an original Stephen King script to the screen. As an actor, he can be seen in friend Don Siegel's Invasion of the Bodysnatchers and Monte Hellman's China 9 Liberty 37.

 
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