Eye For Film >> Movies >> Convoy (1978) Film Review
For his second last film, Sam Peckinpah would make a road movie similar to Smokey And The Bandit only in his own violent style and without as much humour.
Based on the country song of same title by C.W. McCall, the film follows trucker Martin Penwald also known as the "Rubber Duck" and his fellow truckers "Pig Pen" (Burt Young) and "Spider Mike"(Franklyn Ajaye), When the truckers are trapped and become embroiled in a bitter feud with Sheriff Lyle "Cottonmouth" Wallace, they decide to go on the run to head to New Mexico in order to avoid prosecution. Along the way Martin picks up Melissa (Ali MacGraw), a beautiful photographer who just wanted a ride to the airport. As news of the truckers' exploits spreads through the CB airwaves, other truckers join their convoy as a show of support. Cottonmouth decides to bring reinforcements throughout the southwest, in order to stop the convoy and the Rubber Duck.
Making a film that it is based on a quirky idea is always a hard thing to pull off, especially when it is a novelty one-hit wonder song. Funnily enough, the same song was rewritten and expanded to form the closing track. This is the film's initial problem the film, in that there is just not enough of an idea to work wih. Peckinpay clearly tries to follow the same narrative form of classic movie Vanishing Point but ends up being very episodic, with a love scene here, a car crash there without any clear direction.
Where the film comes into its own, is in the action and fight scenes, as viewers will have come to expect from Peckinpah. The cinematography is spectacular, with huge trucks crossing endless desert landscapes. Each chase is beautifully staged and thoroughly gripping, with trucks demolishing buildings and classic police cars crashing through billboards.
The movie famously ran over-schedule and over-budget due to the director's cocaine and alcohol habits, along with other health problems. This shows in the overall quality, which is not of the high calibre that we would come to expect from someone who made the classics The Wild Bunch and Straw Dogs. Rumour has it that things became so out of control that nearly half the movie was shot by long-time collaborator James Coburn, who was already on the crew as a second unit director.
Kristofferson is watchable as the charming hero, who does not want to be a leader, while MacGraw delivers the same old schtick she did in most of her roles by batting her eyelashes and becoming the archetypical damsel in distress. Borgnine easily steals the rug out from everyone with his sadistic, larger than life villain - every scene he is in is just so much fun to watch.
Convoy may not be as entertaining as the Smokey And The Bandit due to the fact there needs to be more comedy within the script to make this story work, but there are enough enjoyable aspects to make this worth a watch. Eagle-eyed viewers will notice that the hood ornament on Kristofferson's truck is the same one that is on Kurt Russell's stunt car in the underrated Death Proof.Reviewed on: 30 Sep 2013