Sunday, May 30, 2010

Mother Truckers

Somehow, Filmsack convinced me I wanted to watch Convoy. On paper, it's got a lot going for it:
  • Classic "cops v. road people" theme (Filmsack's terminology)
  • Based on the C.W. McCall country novelty song, and the campy CB lingo that inspired it
  • Director: Sam Peckinpah. DP: James Coburn
  • Starring Kris Kristofferson as Rubber Duck the trucker, Ernest Borgnine as the dirty sheriff who is after him, and Ali MacGraw as the love interest
The plot is pretty simple yet elegant: Trucker Kristofferson and some of his buddies get on the wrong side of a sheriff, who shakes them down for cash in exchange for not impounding their trucks. A fight in a truckstop leads to them fleeing in a convoy with the police close behind. More trucks join the convoy, and soon people are cheering the outlaw truckers on. The government wants to co-opt their "protest", but Borgnine is out for blood.

There are a lot of good scenes, like a chase over backroads through the dusty desert. Kristofferson is good if you like the ripped, rugged shirtless zen type hero. He consistently refused to make a statement about the convoy: "They're not following me. I'm just in front." "The purpose of the convoy is to keep moving." When the governor's spokesman tells him the governor supports many of their proposals, Kris answers, "Which ones are those?"

On the other hand, there's a serious problem with the tone - the movie can't decide whether it's Smokey and the Bandit or Vanishing Point. I guess you can't expect a lot of laughs in a Peckinpah comedy.

Another problem was Ali McGraw. Man, can she ever not act. I think she looks pretty good, with a short haircut and dark tan - kind of like Shari Belafonte-Harper. But her delivery went beyond wooden. It sounded like she was being dubbed by someone who didn't speak English.

Not a bad movie, as cops v. road people movies go, but not a great one.

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