Kris Kristofferson (Perhaps the manliest man to ever grace the screen outside of Burt Lancaster and Sam Elliott) plays a trucker with the handle ‘Rubber Duck’ who constantly gets on the wrong side of corrupt, mean-spirited sheriff Lyle (Ernest Borgnine). He and his fellow truckers get the better of ‘ol Lyle (who likes to set up speed traps to nab truckers for petty infractions) at a truck stop and make a getaway, and whilst on the run, ‘Rubber Duck’ amasses himself one helluva convoy and a cult/media following. Ali MacGraw plays a young photographer who takes a shine to the Duck and rides in his truck. Franklyn Ajaye plays trucker Spider Mike who becomes an unfortunate target of the bullying Lyle. Burt Young plays another trucker called ‘Pig Pen’, though it’s essentially just Young playing a gentler Uncle Paulie from “Rocky”. Character actor Seymour Cassel plays an opportunistic politician who tries to ride along on Rubber Duck’s wave of cult popularity.
A film based on a kick-arse song by C.W. McCall (AKA Bill Fries), this 1978 Sam Peckinpah action-comedy doesn’t get much love from fans of the director of “The Wild Bunch” and “Straw Dogs”. Personally, I think it’s more fun than either of those two films, even if it does have Ali MacGraw, a charisma black hole of cinematic suckage. It’s a lot better than it really should be, given its genesis. Country crooner Kristofferson is a good, rugged hero as Rubber Duck, and Borgnine is ideal as the antagonistic, humourless, blackmailing Sheriff, and the supporting cast is full of familiar faces. Admittedly I think the twist towards the end is a cheat that leaves a bad taste in the mouth, but it’s a minor issue, really. It’s funny (Surely it’s not meant to be taken seriously, right?), it’s fast, and it’s got lots and lots of trucks and car chases. It’s good non-think entertainment. What more do you want? Oh, a plot? Not gonna find much of that around here, but so long as you’re a fan of “The Dukes of Hazzard” (which I am) or “Smokey and the Bandit”, you won’t likely care.
Scripted by Bill L. Norton (writer-director of “Cisco Pike”, and writer of “Losin’ It”), this is solid B-movie entertainment, though best enjoyed by the male gender, perhaps. It’s certainly among Peckinpah’s least pretentious films, so get your head out of your butt, put your brain away and just have some damn fun, OK? Oh, and good luck getting the title song out of your head, it’s ridiculously infectious.
Useless trivia: Urban legend has it Peckinpah was too drunk to do everything so his friend actor James Coburn did a lot of Second Unit work on the film and apparently a little bit more than Second Unit, whilst Peckinpah was presumably nursing a hangover.