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Convoy, 1978 – Movie Review

Posted by LiveFor on April 3, 2009

Director: Sam Peckinpah
Starring: Kris Kristofferson, Ali McGraw, Ernest Borgnine, Burt Young, J D Kane, Madge Sinclair, Franklyn Ajaye, Seymour Cassel, Brian Davies
Running Time: 100 minutes
Score: 7 / 10

This review by Gavno

The angry, rebellious mood of the post Watergate 1970s, the CB radio craze, and the romanticized image of Truckers as direct descendants of the American cowboy were made to order for the rebellious gonzo filmmakers out there who were looking for something new to hang their perceptual hats on. They’d made it big with the Hollywood Money Machine by now, already having explored (and maybe exploited) illegal drugs and the free floating feeling of youthful rebellion that had been simmering since the early ’50s (EASY RIDER), the country’s ongoing cultural and philosophical clash between young and old (BILLY JACK), and even our changing perceptions of the concepts of war and patriotism (THE DEERHUNTER and COMING HOME).

Enter Sam Peckinpah, one of the wildest of the “action” (read that as “pointless violence just for the hell of it”) filmmakers, armed with a fairly big budget, the incredibly sexy, laid back, anti-establishment and intelligent box office draw of Kris Kristophersen, and the considerable comedic talents of Ernie Borgnine. The only thing missing in this was the psychotic, druggie craziness and inspired insanity of Dennis Hopper. The results of the mix were predictable and inevitable.

No script to speak of; just the lyrics of a pop song by C. W. McCall about a bunch of POed, runaway truckers armed with CB radios and a hatred of the then new 55 MPH national speed limit. Throw in a lot of high speed chases and crashes involving loaded 18 wheelers, staged by a director who had a long and distinguished reputation in Hollywood as a loose cannon. The final product was inspired escapist fantasy that was almost guaranteed to produce box office receipts from teenagers from coast to coast.

The plot of the film (if you can call it that) is rather pointless and murky; it is simply the story of a brawl at a truck stop that escalated into a pseudo social movement. One character, a trucker whose CB “handle” is Big Nasty, inadvertently sums up the entire point of CONVOY when he is asked why he’s joined the trucker protest. “I’m just here because I like kicking ass!” was his reply. And so it is, as simple as that… the film is all about free form anarchy and flipping The Bird to the established social and political order, staged by a bunch of unconventional rebels who were perceived as tough enough and powerful enough to make their rebellion stick. Despite the fact that the film has no point and doesn’t seem to know where it’s going, it was just what the temper of the times demanded, and without a doubt it’s just a whole lot of FUN! Trucks and CB radios were a major staple of Hollywood then… along with CONVOY there were other efforts, some of them more sophisticated and structured, like Burt Reynold’s classic of the genre SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT that used essentially the CONVOY formula.

Not every movie has a higher calling, expressing the producer’s vision of some great truth. Some are trashy and cheesy, but they still garner a place as cult classics, and as one of those “guilty pleasures” movies that we drag out from time to time just for pure enjoyment. CONVOY is one of them… it offers the pure (tho vicarious) thrill of seeing a squad car that’s chasing you get crushed between two semis. It warms the soul with a vision of the Little Guy successfully fighting back against the system that uses him up and tosses him into the trash heap… even tho in Peckinpah’s version of that vision we’re not really sure of exactly what it is that the Little Guy is fighting against, or why he’s fighting.

As pure entertainment, I have to give CONVOY a Thumbs Up.

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