Newest Reviews
Fish That Saved Pittsburgh, The
Capote Tapes, The
Night, The
Show Goes On, The
Furnace, The
Blue Sky
Tokyo Dragon Chef
12 Hour Shift
Intergalactic Adventures of Max Cloud, The
Spoilers, The
Killer Therapy
Man Upstairs, The
Bloodhound, The
New Mutants, The
Flame of New Orleans, The
Ham on Rye
Imperial Blue
August 32nd on Earth
Don is Dead, The
Seven Sinners
Body of Water
About Endlessness
Let It Snow
Deliver Us from Evil
Shark Attack 3: Megalodon
Midnight Sky, The
Lego Star Wars Holiday Special, The
Mon Oncle Antoine
Blast of Silence
Blackout, The
Newest Articles
Absolutely Bananas: Link on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Hawk the Slayer and The Medusa Touch
The Price of Plague: The Masque of the Red Death on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Ring of Spies
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
Adelphi Extras: Stars in Your Eyes on Blu-ray
Toons for the Heads: Fantastic Planet and Adult Animation
Nature Girl: The New World on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Perfect Friday and Robbery
Network Double Bills: The House in Nightmare Park and The Man Who Haunted Himself
Newley Minted: The Strange World of Gurney Slade on Blu-ray
Bad Love: The Night Porter on Blu-ray
Brevity is the Soul of Weird: Short Sharp Shocks on Blu-ray
Get Your Ass to Mars: Total Recall on Blu-ray
Call the Professionals: Le Cercle Rouge on Blu-ray
When There's No More Room in Hell: Dawn of the Dead on Blu-ray
The Butterfly Effect: Mothra on Blu-ray
Living Room Theatre: Play for Today Volume 1 on Blu-ray
Didn't He Do Well: The Bruce Forsyth Show on DVD
Blood Wedding: The Bride with White Hair on Blu-ray
The Inhuman Element: The Ladykillers on 4K UHD
As You Like It, Baby: Breathless on Blu-ray
Stargazing: Light Entertainment Rarities on DVD
Down to the Welles: Orson Welles Great Mysteries Volume 2 on DVD
Herding Cats: Sleepwalkers on Blu-ray
  Citizens Band Good Buddies
Year: 1977
Director: Jonathan Demme
Stars: Paul Le Mat, Candy Clark, Bruce McGill, Roberts Blossom, Charles Napier, Ann Wedgeworth, Marcia Rodd, Alix Elias, Richard Bright, Ed Begley Jr, Michael Rothman, Michael Mahler, Harry Northup, Will Seltzer, Leila Smith, Micki Mann, Roy Hollis
Genre: Comedy, DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: The CB radio craze is at its peak and everyone is known by their handle, an alias which helps them to be readily identified as well as, for some, preserving their anonymity, which is handy for someone like Electra who gets off on chatting up the teenage Warlock and turning him on with her saucy talk. But it's not simply a form of entertainment, as information is broadcast over the airwaves as well, though not all of it beneficial, as there are always the cranks to contend with, spewing white supremacist hate or Bible-bashing religion to anyone within earshot. However, for electrician Spider (Paul Le Mat) it can be a lifeline too, for he runs a help station which picks up distress signals...

The equivalent of Citizens Band nowadays would be a movie about folks communicating over the internet, though that would not just stick with one corner of Nebraska as its location as this newer phenomenon would span the globe, making for storylines too big to grapple into one film. Mobile phones would appear to be a modern substitute for much of the CB technology screenwriter Paul Brickman (best known for Risky Business) wove his plot around, and would have certainly made his finale a lot easier to manage, but there isn't quite the same sense of community to sending text messages as there was to turning the dial late at night and connecting with someone out there.

It was this camaraderie that director Jonathan Demme was hoping to cash in on, yet while his graduation from basic genre thrillers to something more character based and lightly humorous here did lead to many of his most acclaimed works, the audience for Citizens Band (with a double meaning in the title) was small, as perhaps they were expecting a broader comedy like Smokey and the Bandit which this was assuredly not. After this had great reviews but still didn't conjure up any major business, Paramount renamed it Handle with Care (another double meaning, but a lot clunkier this time) and re-edited it to make it snappier, whereupon... it didn't bring in the crowds either, leaving a cult film for those who followed Demme's career with interest.

In many ways this was a dry run for Demme's other Paul Le Mat movie of three years later, and probably his masterpiece, Melvin and Howard, in that his leading man was portraying much the same type of personality in much the same milieu, only without the "based on a true story" tag which gave it greater resonance. But while it was rather fuzzy round the edges, don't dismiss Citizens Band as it featured gently amusing narratives, not episodic exactly but definitely more of a ramble through its subject's lives, and every cast member was well aware of what was necessary to bring out the laughs and indeed the unexpected sweetness, mostly centered on Spider's troubles with his elderly father (Roberts Blossom) who basically only communicates over his CB.

The way the CB was introduced as a plot point did feel as contrived as the many times movies since have depicted the internet, perhaps making more of it than was necessary, but at least the theme of making contact was brought out, and that means bringing all those quirks in your demeanour to the fore should you decide you want to be part of someone's life for a while, even if only for a few minutes to stave off any loneliness or create a little companionship to pass the time. Spider goes on a crusade to stop perpetrators misusing the CB, tracking down signals and preventing the criminals from broadcasting more, yet we can tell he blocks out the need to communicate with the three people he has trouble reaching out to, and it's a two-way street between him and his father, sports coach brother (Bruce McGill) and the woman he loves (Candy Clark) but has never been able to make a breakthrough with. More daffily, Charles Napier proved his worth as a bigamist whose wives meet by chance, but even the comedy of that contained the poignancy running through Citizens Band. Music by Bill Conti.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 2068 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film


Jonathan Demme  (1944 - 2017)

American director with a exploitation beginnings who carved out a successful Hollywood career as a caring exponent of a variety of characters. Worked in the early 70s as a writer on films like Black Mama, White Mama before directing his first picture for producer Roger Corman, the women-in-prison gem Caged Heat. Demme's mainstream debut was the 1977 CB drama Handle With Care (aka Citizens Band), which were followed by such great films as the thriller Last Embrace, tenderhearted biopic Melvin and Howard, wartime drama Swing Shift, classic Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense, and black comedies Something Wild and Married to the Mob.

Demme's Thomas Harris adaptation The Silence of the Lambs was one of 1991's most successful films, making Hannibal Lecter a household name, while the worthy AIDS drama Philadelphia was equally popular. Since then, Demme has floundered somewhat - Beloved and The Truth About Charlie were critical and commercial failures, although 2004's remake of The Manchurian Candidate was a box office hit. Rachel Getting Married also has its fans, though Meryl Streep vehicle Ricki and the Flash was not a great one to go out on. He was also an advocate of the documentary form, especially music: his final release was a Justin Timberlake concert.

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Stately Wayne Manor
Enoch Sneed
  Geraint Morgan
Paul Smith
  Lee Fiveash


Last Updated: