The movie industry has long had a love affair with the trucking industry and why not? The idea of freedom that comes with life on the road lends itself well to storytelling, whether it’s adventure, horror, comedy, or even romantic comedies. It can be dangerous, the scenery beautiful, and you never know what’s coming around the bend.
Trucking movies became hugely popular in the 1970s when truck drivers were seen as cowboy heroes and the use of CB radios became popular but by the late ‘80s, trucking culture began to fade, and a new form of trucker movie was ushered in: trucker horror movies. In these, the drivers or the trucks themselves were the bad guys, usually ruthless killers with an ax to grind, so to speak, with some unsuspecting motorist.
Being a truck driver in real life may not have chases or serial killers, but trucker movies are always a good time!
When you think of trucker movies, often the one that first comes to mind, at least for the older generation, is Convoy. It was inspired by the country song of the same name by C.W. McCall. It didn’t fare well at the box office but became a cult classic for truckers everywhere.
Every Which Way But Loose (1978)
Another classic from the ‘70s. Clint Eastwood stars as Philo Beddoe in this comedy as a truck driver and his buddy who always steals the show, an orangutan named Clyde. Beddoe is a former trucker-turned-prize-fighter who falls for a country singer played by Sondra Locke. When she feels he’s getting too serious, she flees, making it a romantic comedy/trucker/pursuit movie.
Flatbed Annie and Sweetiepie: Lady Truckers (1979)
The abundance of trucker movies in the ‘70s didn’t forget female drivers. This one stars Annie Potts and Kim Darby as friends who take up the driving reigns after Sweetiepie’s husband is injured. Between a repo man and hijackers, the two have their hands full.
Smokey and the Bandit (1977)
This is one of the most popular trucker movies to date. Burt Reynolds and Jerry Reed star as drivers who have to make a strict deadline across the south. Sally Field joins them as a hitchhiker who left her groom at the altar and they’re pursued across the country by the father of the groom, Sheriff Buford T. Justice, played by Jackie Gleason.
White Line Fever (1975)
Jan Michael Vincent plays a man who returns home from the Air Force to try and make it as a long-haul produce driver. He finds the business rife with corruption and must fight it to survive.
Joy Ride (2001)
Paul Walker and Steve Zahn star as brothers in this cross-country thriller. The two play brothers on a road trip when one taunts a mysterious truck driver known only as Rusty Nail who turns out to be a psychotic murderer seeking revenge. Two sequels followed in 2008 and 2014.
Maximum Overdrive (1986)
In this fun Stephen King thriller, the machines come to life after Earth passes near a mysterious comet and all the machines begin killing people. The story centers around a group of people who are trapped at a truck stop and are being hunted by murderous trucks.
This drama stars Michelle Monaghan as a truck driver whose 11-year-old son who she had abandoned years ago is left on her doorstep by his cancer-stricken father. She does the only thing she can, takes him out on the road. It also stars Nathan Fillion.
Real-life driving is more professional than the average trucker movie but you can join in on the fun and enjoy some of these movies while you’re on the road.
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