Jammin' Gears: Truckers on Film

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"As digital supplanted film, so the dawn of self-driving automation threatens to make the long-haul trucker an endangered species, and so all of us will fall to the singularity in the end. But while there’s still a bit of daylight left, let’s celebrate the love affair between cinema and the 18-wheeler. From the two-fisted proletarian hero of trucking engineer-turned-novelist and screenwriter A.I. “Buzz” Bezzerides and Cy Endfield’s HELL DRIVERS, we roll into the 1970s and the Golden Age of the trucker movie. The trend, including a nationwide craze for the colorful lingo of Citizens Band (CB) radio, was founded in a few identifiable events that had increased national visibility of the trucker: the 1973 oil crisis and the Motor Carrier Regulatory Reform and Modernization Act, a huge step towards the deregulation of the trucking industry which was signed into law by President Carter on June 1, 1980.

"The trucker could be a working-class hero of various political persuasions, fighting back against gangster capitalism or against an encroaching nanny state that was squeezing him out of business, a modern-day knight errant on a Diesel-powered steed. As a turbocharged king of the road, the trucker could also pose a holy terror to the peasant drivers scuttling underfoot, lacking their Class-A CDLs, several corrals worth of horsepower, and a couple dozen tons of muscle behind them, and this fact has been taken advantage of by more than a few movies that have cast the truck as a reliable heavy, including Steven Spielberg’s breakthrough DUEL (1971). Good or evil, tough or tender, fighting for whatever definition of freedom you’ve got, the trucker and the truck alone have been delivering the goods in cinema since the first pavement was laid down. So climb up and buckle in, because we’re about to put the hammer down to run through some of the best that the elevated road movie has to offer." —Nick Pinkerton