The Big Bus (1976)

PG | 88 mins | Comedy | 23 June 1976

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HISTORY

Before the title, a written statement appears that says the following: "There have been Movies about Big Earthquakes…There have been Movies about Big Boats sinking…Movies about Big Buildings burning...Movies about Big German Balloons bursting…And now a Movie about…"
       In the end credits two written statements appears as follows: "Made in Hollywood U.S.A.;" and "Paramount Pictures thanks Trailways for their help and technical assistance in making this impossible picture possible."
       As noted in 14 Oct 1975 DV news item, actor Jose Ferrer replaced Orson Welles as the character "Ironman."
       According to 13 Nov 1975 DV , Ruth Gordon based her role as "Old lady" on Helen Hayes's Academy Award-winning role of "Ada Quonsett" in Airport (1970, see entry).
       According to a 22 Dec 1975 DV news item, principal photography wrapped on 18 Dec ... More Less

Before the title, a written statement appears that says the following: "There have been Movies about Big Earthquakes…There have been Movies about Big Boats sinking…Movies about Big Buildings burning...Movies about Big German Balloons bursting…And now a Movie about…"
       In the end credits two written statements appears as follows: "Made in Hollywood U.S.A.;" and "Paramount Pictures thanks Trailways for their help and technical assistance in making this impossible picture possible."
       As noted in 14 Oct 1975 DV news item, actor Jose Ferrer replaced Orson Welles as the character "Ironman."
       According to 13 Nov 1975 DV , Ruth Gordon based her role as "Old lady" on Helen Hayes's Academy Award-winning role of "Ada Quonsett" in Airport (1970, see entry).
       According to a 22 Dec 1975 DV news item, principal photography wrapped on 18 Dec 1975.
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
14 Oct 1975.
---
Daily Variety
13 Nov 1975.
---
Daily Variety
22 Dec 1975.
---
Hollywood Reporter
23 Jun 1976
p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
24 Jun 1976
p. 20.
New York Times
24 Jun 1976.
---
Variety
23 Jun 1976
p. 17.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Paramount Pictures Presents
A Cohen & Freeman/Phillips Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
Asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Elec gaffer
Key grip
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Asst art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
COSTUMES
Cost des
Men's cost supv
Women's cost supv
MUSIC
Orch
SOUND
Sd mixer
Re-rec mixer
Sd eff ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Make-up artist
Hair stylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Secy to the dir
SOURCES
MUSIC
"Also Sprach Zarathustra," composed by Richard Strauss.
SONGS
"Tommy Joyce," special material composed by Murphy Dunne
"You're Just in Love," written by Irving Berlin
"Tangerine," written by Johnny Mercer & Victor Schertzinger
+
SONGS
"Tommy Joyce," special material composed by Murphy Dunne
"You're Just in Love," written by Irving Berlin
"Tangerine," written by Johnny Mercer & Victor Schertzinger
"Moon River," written by Johnny Mercer and Henry Mancini.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
23 June 1976
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 23 June 1976
Production Date:
end 18 December 1975
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Color by Movielab
Widescreen/ratio
Filmed in Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
88
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Alex, a hotdog vendor, keeps watch on a bus hanger at the Cyclops Nuclear Project as members of the press get on a van. It goes ten feet and picks up Kitty Baxter, designer of the big bus. It goes another twenty feet and stops at a raised platform and everyone gets out. Kitty takes the stage to explain how the new bus, Cyclops, is going to revolutionize transportation. While she is speaking, her father, Professor Irwin Baxter, is about to load the radioactive fuel into the nuclear engine. He stands behind a protective screen with Shorty Scotty, the project manager; Jack, Scotty’s assistant, and two drivers. They watch as the Professor uses a robotic arm to transfer a radioactive fuel rod to the engine. The rod gets stuck. Wearing only street clothes, Scotty walks into the other room, grabs the rod and puts it into place. In the parking lot, as Kitty finishes her speech, there is an explosion in the lab. The hot dog vendor jumps into an awaiting car and escapes. Later the hot dog vendor walks into a mansion where his brother, Ironman, lies in an iron lung watching the fire on TV. Alex reports everything went as planned. Kitty finds her father lying in the parking lot where a doctor is pulling the sheet over the Professor’s face. The Doctor tells Kitty the Professor can’t hear her. “Yes I can,” he yells. The doctor apologizes, then explains to Kitty that the Professor can’t be moved as a St. Christopher medal was blown into his chest with the ... +


Alex, a hotdog vendor, keeps watch on a bus hanger at the Cyclops Nuclear Project as members of the press get on a van. It goes ten feet and picks up Kitty Baxter, designer of the big bus. It goes another twenty feet and stops at a raised platform and everyone gets out. Kitty takes the stage to explain how the new bus, Cyclops, is going to revolutionize transportation. While she is speaking, her father, Professor Irwin Baxter, is about to load the radioactive fuel into the nuclear engine. He stands behind a protective screen with Shorty Scotty, the project manager; Jack, Scotty’s assistant, and two drivers. They watch as the Professor uses a robotic arm to transfer a radioactive fuel rod to the engine. The rod gets stuck. Wearing only street clothes, Scotty walks into the other room, grabs the rod and puts it into place. In the parking lot, as Kitty finishes her speech, there is an explosion in the lab. The hot dog vendor jumps into an awaiting car and escapes. Later the hot dog vendor walks into a mansion where his brother, Ironman, lies in an iron lung watching the fire on TV. Alex reports everything went as planned. Kitty finds her father lying in the parking lot where a doctor is pulling the sheet over the Professor’s face. The Doctor tells Kitty the Professor can’t hear her. “Yes I can,” he yells. The doctor apologizes, then explains to Kitty that the Professor can’t be moved as a St. Christopher medal was blown into his chest with the chain still hanging out. The doctor then asks her to sign a contract waiving all rights to sue for malpractice. Scotty runs up and tells the Professor that both drivers are dead and there’s no one to drive the bus. The Professor knows the one man who can do it, Dan Torrance. Kitty won’t hear of it, but the Professor tells her Dan is their only hope and if she refuses, he will pull the St. Christopher chain and end it all. She agrees to find Dan. Elsewhere, silence greets Dan as he enters a bar full of bus drivers where Goldie, a large bigmouth, tells him to get out. Goldie also claims that when Dan’s bus broke down at Mt. Diablo, Dan ate the passengers to survive. Dan says he only ate one foot, but that was because his co-pilot put it in the stew. A fight breaks out. Dan’s is pummeled until Shoulders O’Brien, a young driver steps in. He grabs a cardboard milk carton off the bar, breaks it and threatens to slice anyone that doesn’t back off. Dan makes his escape. Later, Kitty finds Dan at the cemetery talking to his dead father's tombstone. Dan apologizes for leaving her at the altar, but he had to drive the Akron line, as another driver got sick. She cuts him off and offers him the chance to drive the Cyclops. Dan says he’ll do it for twenty dollars a day and twenty cents a mile. Kitty agrees. During Dan’s training, Shoulders shows up. Dan wants Shoulders to be his co-driver. Kitty isn’t sure. He doesn’t fit the uniform. Dan threatens to walk and Kitty backs down. Back at the mansion, Alex wants to destroy Cyclops with an electronic earthquake. Ironman says they need to discredit the bus not destroy it. He tells Alex to put a bomb on the bus. Next morning, the passengers board Cyclops. They include an old lady who is running away from her husband of fifty years; Camille Levy, a rich clothes designer and nymphomaniac; Father Kudos, a priest that wants to date; and Dr. Kurtz, who has lost his veterinarian license for inserting an IUD in a rabbit. Two other passengers, Sybil and Claude Crane are the first on board. They are getting divorced and hate each other. Claude announces that Sybil’s father was the inventor of poison gas. She screams insults at him and then, overcome by emotion, they start having sex in the aisle, forcing other passengers to step over them. In the cockpit, Shoulders tells Dan that his nickname is a result of an ear problem that makes him drive on the shoulder of the road. He begs Dan not to tell anyone, and then passes out. Coming to, Shoulders tells Dan that he also periodically blacks out. Later, over the radio, Scotty orders Dan to test the tire changer while the bus is moving. Shoulders throws a switch, a tire blows off and new one pops into its place. Next, they test the automatic washer. Foam bubbles out of the roof and a large bristle rolls out and washes the bus. Scotty now gives Dan the ok to speed up. As Cyclops goes past seventy-five, all hell breaks loose. Balls fly in the bowling alley, the pool splashes water everywhere and passengers are vibrated out of their seats. Dan refuses to abort the test. At eighty, Shoulders passes out. At ninety there’s a loud boom and everything becomes calm. Dan calls command center and says they have broken wind at ninety. The command center celebrates. Back at the mansion, Ironman wants to know when the bomb will go off. Alex says it will go off when Ironman has his supper. Ironman says he has already has had his supper. Alex runs off to check. Dan is in the Bicentennial cabin hosting a dinner with some passengers. During the meal, Camille takes out a man’s shoe and a gun. The shoe was from her father’s foot. The same foot Dan ate at Mt. Diablo. She shoots; the bus swerves and the lights go out. No one is hit. Shoulders is on the radio demanding Dan get up to the cockpit. A tire is blown and the auto repair isn’t working. Dan crawls underneath the bus to fix it and finds a bomb. He radios for help. He wants to defuse it by cutting the yellow wire. Kitty tells him it could be the blue wire. Dan says he’s cutting the yellow wire. The timer stops. Dan crawls into the cockpit and into Kitty’s arms. Kitty says she looked in the bomb book and Dan was right. It was the yellow wire. He tells her he cut the blue wire and the bomb explodes. Dan gets on the radio and Scotty tells him to stop at Springfield. The bus is on fire and speeding up. Dan realizes the brakes are shot. Shoulders passes out. Kitty grabs the wheel as Dan tries to fix the brakes. In Springfield, fire crews put safety foam on the highway. Cyclops is moving too fast. It splashes through the foam and keeps going. The bus is still picking up speed. Scotty calls in with instructions from the Professor on how to rewire the controls to slow them down. Instead, it creates an electrical short that wipes out the alarm, heating and air conditioning systems. Meanwhile, Ironman realizes the bomb hasn’t stopped Cyclops and agrees with Alex's plan to activate the electronic earthquake to destroy the bus forever. Cyclops is approaching Harbinger Curve. Shoulders pulls on the emergency brakes, but they need more drag. Dan turns on the flag of nations. Hundreds of flags pop out of the roof and slow them down. Cyclops swerves. At the same time, a farmer and his family are driving up a country road. A boulder rolls down the mountain, forcing the pickup to swerve, plunge off the road and smash into the side of Cyclops. In the bus's kitchen, Kitty hits her head while baking a pie and is knocked out. Dan loses control. The bus crashes through guardrails and comes to a stop. Cyclops is now hanging over a cliff. Dan orders Shoulders to shift some weight by pumping soda out of the dispensers and into the kitchen. Kitty comes to. Her foot is stuck. She calls Dan to say she’s drowning. Dan hands his captain’s hat to Shoulders and crawls out on the roof to rescue her. In the kitchen, Kitty is barely keeping her head above soda. Dan tells Kitty he loves her and when he was bedding other women he was thinking of her, but from now on he’ll only bed her and think of them. Kitty says that’s what she wanted to hear and tells Dan she had freed her foot ten minutes ago. Back in the passenger cabin, Dan tells all the women to take off their underwear and men to take off their belts. Then Dan and Kitty climb into the pickup’s truck bed. He uses a candelabrum tied to a rope of underwear and belts to snag a tree. He crawls over the side and hooks the rope to the truck’s crankshaft. The farmer guns the pickup and it pulls the bus back. Once the Cyclops's wheels get traction, Shoulders throws it in reverse. Meanwhile, Alex turns on the earthquake machine. He has forgotten to enter the coordinates. The mansion falls down as Ironman crawls all the way into his iron lung. The bus is saved and back on the highway. As the passengers cheer, they pass a sign saying Denver twenty-five miles. Then Cyclops splits in half and goes flying down the curvy mountain road. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.