Last week a few Professional Drivers in our fleet mentioned that, among some other movies, Convoy was a major inspiration for becoming a Professional Truck Driver. Admittedly, we were intrigued and wanted to rewatch the movie to find out how this movie could inspire others to become Professional Truck Drivers.
To really dissect the impact Convoy made we had to put the film back into context for when it came out, so come with us all the way back to the 1970s.
The 70s were a tumultuous time in America. Nixon resigned in 1974 amid much controversy and America was fresh out of an unpopular war.
American film around this time was full of stories about railing against the system, from Serpico and his fight against corrupt cops, to Three Days of the Condor and the paranoia that the American government could come for you at any time for any innocuous reason.
But these anti-authoritarian messages were felt no clearer than with the trucking movies of the 70s. White Line and Smokey and the Bandit were both immense hits, with truckers at the forefront of the films, fighting against the system and the corruption that was keeping them down.
One of the most popular and recognizable trucking movies with an anti-authoritarian streak was Sam Peckinpah’s 1978 classic, based off the novelty country western protest song of the same name, Convoy!
Starring Kris Kristofferson as Rubber Duck, Convoy is all about a group of truckers tired of being extorted and taken advantage of by Sherriff Lyle Wallace, a greasy little man equipped with a CB radio and a sheriff’s badge, played by Ernest Borgnine.
After being taken advantage of one too many times, Professional Truck Drivers Rubber Duck, Pig Pen (Burt Young), and Spider Mike (Fraklyn Ajaye) decide to make a few bad jokes about Sheriff Wallace resulting in a fantastically shot barroom brawl and almost every Truck Driver in the bar high tailing it to the next state over to escape prosecution.
Featuring high flying cars, colorful characters (and even more colorful CB handles), explosions, and a very delightful destruction of a small town, this film is bursting at the seams with fantastic stunt work and memorable moments. Convoy even sports a car jump that would make them Duke boys proud.
While the stunts shown off in the film are incredible, in no way does ShipEX support, endorse, or encourage anyone to remake the stunts using their own truck. We especially do not support the way the convoy clearly ignores the chicken coop and flies on by without their weigh ticket.
A large section of the film centers on finding out why so many of the Drivers are part of the convoy. As a news broadcaster rides alongside the convoy conducting interviews, the Drivers talk about how they were tired of being treated like crap and how they wanted to be the masters of their own destiny. The most common theme being that on the road the felt freedom, with no obligation to anything other than getting their load delivered on time.
Along with the stunts and action of the film, it becomes laser focused why so many people were inspired to become a Professional Truck Driver after watching this film: you get to be your own boss, live outside the boring 9-5 life, and see so much of this beautiful country.
After all two hours of this film have flown by, we would definitely have to say that Convoy still delights and inspires to this day. Most insidious of all is the song in which this film is based. You will be humming the tune weeks after the credits have rolled.