Convoy (1978)

PG | 114 mins | Drama | 28 June 1978

Director:

Sam Peckinpah

Writer:

B. W. L. Norton

Producer:

Robert M. Sherman

Cinematographer:

Harry Stradling, Jr.

Production Designer:

Fernando Carrere

Production Company:

EMI Films
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HISTORY

       Actress Madge Sinclair’s character is credited as “Widow Woman” but she is referred to as “Black Widow” in the film.
       Although contemporary articles noted that the song “Convoy” was written by C. W. McCall, Chip Davis and Donald Sears, the onscreen end credits state the song was composed by Chip Davis and Bill Fries and performed by C. W. McCall. However, the film's opening credits state: "Based on the song by C. W. McCall." As noted in a 5 Apr 1976 HR news item, the song popularized citizens band (CB) radio and ranked number one in the U.S. on both country and pop music charts.
       A 15 Dec 1976 HR news item stated that Ted Haworth was signed as production designer but the onscreen credits list Fernando Carrere in that position.
       The 28 Jun 1978 Var review listed Bob Litt as a sound editor but he does not appear on onscreen credits.
       Convoy was originally announced in the 4 May 1976 HR as a United Artists (UA) film by producer Robert M. Sherman and UA executive Mike Medavoy. B. W. L. Norton was hired to complete the screenplay. McCall, Sears and Davis were brought onto the project to write new songs and compose the score.
       As noted in an 18 Aug 1976 LAT article, the “CB movie” was a popular subject for many other films made around the same time, including Jonathan Demme’s Citizens Band (aka Handle With Care 1977, see entry) and Hal Needham’s Smokey and the Bandit (1977, see entry).
       A 6 Sep ... More Less

       Actress Madge Sinclair’s character is credited as “Widow Woman” but she is referred to as “Black Widow” in the film.
       Although contemporary articles noted that the song “Convoy” was written by C. W. McCall, Chip Davis and Donald Sears, the onscreen end credits state the song was composed by Chip Davis and Bill Fries and performed by C. W. McCall. However, the film's opening credits state: "Based on the song by C. W. McCall." As noted in a 5 Apr 1976 HR news item, the song popularized citizens band (CB) radio and ranked number one in the U.S. on both country and pop music charts.
       A 15 Dec 1976 HR news item stated that Ted Haworth was signed as production designer but the onscreen credits list Fernando Carrere in that position.
       The 28 Jun 1978 Var review listed Bob Litt as a sound editor but he does not appear on onscreen credits.
       Convoy was originally announced in the 4 May 1976 HR as a United Artists (UA) film by producer Robert M. Sherman and UA executive Mike Medavoy. B. W. L. Norton was hired to complete the screenplay. McCall, Sears and Davis were brought onto the project to write new songs and compose the score.
       As noted in an 18 Aug 1976 LAT article, the “CB movie” was a popular subject for many other films made around the same time, including Jonathan Demme’s Citizens Band (aka Handle With Care 1977, see entry) and Hal Needham’s Smokey and the Bandit (1977, see entry).
       A 6 Sep 1976 LAT news item announced that director Sam Peckinpah was in negotiations to direct the film for British Lion Ltd. returning from a self-imposed Hollywood exile after his last U.S. film The Killer Elite (1975, see entry). Peckinpah’s involvement was confirmed in a 15 Dec 1976 HR news item that stated the project was now attached to British company EMI Films with a reported budget of $6 million. Convoy was slated as the company’s first foray into U.S. film production and principal photography was scheduled to begin 25 Apr 1976.
       Olympic gold medal winner Bruce Jenner was in talks to join Kris Kristofferson in the cast according to a 13 Dec 1976 DV news item, but he did not appear in the picture. Actor James Coburn signed on as second unit director due to his interest in becoming a full-fledged director, according to a 27 Jul 1977 LAHExam news item.
       As noted in a 26 Mar 1977 LAT news item, the film marked Ali MacGraw's return to feature films after a five-year hiatus. Her pervious release, The Getaway (1976, see entry), was also directed by Peckinpah.
       Various contemporary sources, including a 8 Apr 1977 DV news item and a 2 May 1977 DV advertisement, stated that principal photography would begin 2 May 1977 in New Mexico. According to the shooting schedule, the production was set for a sixty-five day shoot between 2 May 1977 and 16 Jul 1977. By early Jul 1977 there were reports of numerous problems with the production according to a 4 Jul 1977 Time article. Members of the crew had quit, a fire had destroyed one of the sets and the production experienced a rash of thefts and vandalism. Peckinpah was accused of largely ignoring the script and improvising scenes. The production experienced many accidents, including an overturned truck and a stuntman’s car overshooting its target. Peckinpah used all of the accidents in the film and changed the story to work around them. Time reported that the film was three weeks behind schedule. News items in the 3 Aug 1977 and 10 Aug 1977 LAHExam stated that production had shut down temporarily for unknown reasons, but EMI president Edward Sands claimed filming was complete and the film went only one week over schedule.
       As noted in a 9 Aug 1977 NYT article, director Sam Peckinpah had a long history of alcoholism and a reputation of running a stressful film set. Known for his short temper, he regularly fired crew members, but this time around, he only fired one crew member. Others who left quit voluntarily. A 15 Mar 1978 LAT article stated that Peckinpah finished and screened a director's cut of the film mid-Mar 1978, but there was speculation among insiders that Peckinpah's authority was removed from the final stages of post-production and he was relegated to the role of "editorial consultant." Executive producer Michael Deeley refused to comment.
       Convoy was first released in Japan mid-Jun 1978 to robust box-office grosses, earning $4 million in nine days according to a 23 Jun 1978 HR news item. A 21 Jun 1978 HR brief announced that Convoy was slated to premiere in the U.S., on 28 Jun 1978, and Canada, on 30 Jun 1978, in over 700 theaters.
       To coincide with the release, United Artists Records distributed a soundtrack featuring artists such as C. W. McCall, Kenny Rogers, Glen Campbell and Merle Haggard according to a 28 Jun 1978 Var news item. Dell Books released a novelization of the film by B. W. L. Norton with an initial printing of 300,000 books, according to a 12 Jul 1978 Var article.

      The end credits conclude with the following statement: “Our grateful thanks to: Mack Truck Corporation, Midland International Corporation, Fruehauf Corporation, The People of New Mexico and the State Film Commission for their cooperation.”
More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
26 Apr 1976.
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Box Office
14 Mar 1977.
---
Box Office
18 Apr 1977.
---
Box Office
30 May 1977.
---
Box Office
27 Jun 1977.
---
Box Office
3 Jul 1978.
---
Daily Variety
5 Apr 1976.
---
Daily Variety
13 Dec 1976.
---
Daily Variety
15 Dec 1976.
---
Daily Variety
29 Dec 1976.
---
Daily Variety
1 Feb 1977.
---
Daily Variety
8 Apr 1977.
---
Daily Variety
28 Apr 1977.
---
Daily Variety
2 May 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
5 Apr 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
15 Dec 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
1 Mar 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
28 Mar 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 Nov 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
14 Dec 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
9 Feb 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jun 1978
p. 1, 11.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jun 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
22 Jun 1978
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Jun 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
31 Jul 1978.
---
Independent Film Journal
Jul 1978.
---
LAHExam
23 Apr 1977.
---
LAHExam
27 Jul 1977.
---
LAHExam
3 Aug 1977
Section B, p. 6.
LAHExam
10 Aug 1977.
---
Los Angeles Times
18 Aug 1976
Section IV, p. 10.
Los Angeles Times
6 Sep 1976.
---
Los Angeles Times
15 Dec 1976
Section IV, p. 22.
Los Angeles Times
26 Mar 1977.
---
Los Angeles Times
2 May 1977.
---
Los Angeles Times
15 Mar 1978.
---
Los Angeles Times
27 Apr 1978.
---
Los Angeles Times
28 Jun 1978
p. 1, 15.
New Times
24 Jul 1978.
---
New West
11 Apr 1977.
---
New West
17 Jul 1978.
p. 103
New York Times
9 Aug 1977.
---
New York Times
28 Jun 1978
p. 17.
Time
4 May 1977.
---
Time
4 Jul 1977
p. 73.
Variety
4 Apr 1976.
---
Variety
29 Dec 1976.
---
Variety
2 Feb 1977.
---
Variety
2 Mar 1977.
---
Variety
Apr 1977.
---
Variety
27 Jul 1977.
---
Variety
6 Jun 1978.
---
Variety
21 Jun 1978.
---
Variety
28 Jun 1978.
---
Variety
28 Jun 1978
p. 22.
Variety
12 Jul 1978.
---
Village Voice
17 Jul 1978.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
EMI Presents
A Robert M. Sherman Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d unit dir
2d unit dir
Prod mgr
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
1st asst dir
1st asst dir
1st asst dir
1st asst dir
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITER
Screen story and scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2d unit dir of photog
Addl photog
Cam op
Cam op
Cam op
Cam op
Cam op
Gaffer
Key grip
Best boy grip
Still man
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
Supv film ed
Film ed
Film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Ed secy
SET DECORATORS
Const foreman
Const foreman
Painter
Painter
COSTUMES
Cost
MUSIC
Supv and lyrics
Mus ed
Mus score rec
Mus score rec
Mus score rec
Mus rec at
Omaha, Nebraska/Kansas City, Missouri
Mus prod asst
Mus prod asst
Mus prod asst
SOUND
Prod sd mixer
Boom man
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Dial ed
Dial ed
Sd eff
Sd eff
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Post prod sd
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff
Titles and opticals
MAKEUP
Make up
Make up
Hair stylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Prod co-ord
Prod co-ord
Prod exec
Prod asst
Prod accountant
Prod secy
Loc casting
Extra casting
Scr supv
Scr supv
Transportation
Transportation
Transportation
STAND INS
Stunt co-ord
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the song "Convoy" written by Chip Davis and Bill Fries.
SONGS
"Convoy," written by Chip Davis and Bill Fries, performed by C. W. McCall, courtesy of American Gramaphone SESAC
"Don't It Make Your Brown Eyes Blue," written by Richard Leigh, performed by Crystal Gayle, courtesy of United Artists Music Co., Inc. ASCAP
"Blanket on the Ground," written by Roger Bowling, performed by Billie Jo Spears, courtesy of ATV Music Corp., BMI
+
SONGS
"Convoy," written by Chip Davis and Bill Fries, performed by C. W. McCall, courtesy of American Gramaphone SESAC
"Don't It Make Your Brown Eyes Blue," written by Richard Leigh, performed by Crystal Gayle, courtesy of United Artists Music Co., Inc. ASCAP
"Blanket on the Ground," written by Roger Bowling, performed by Billie Jo Spears, courtesy of ATV Music Corp., BMI
"Keep on the Sunny Side," written by A.P. Carter and Gary Garett, performed by Doc Watson, courtesy of Peer International Corp. BMI
"Okie from Muskogee," written by Merle Haggard and Eddie Burris, performed by Merle Haggard, courtesy of Blue Book Music BMI
"Lucille," written by Roger Bowling and Hal Bynum, performed by Kenny Rogers, courtesy of ATV Music Corp./Andite Invasion Music BMI
"Southern Nights," written by Allen Toussaint, performed by Glen Campbell, courtesy of Warner-Tamerline Publishing Corp./Marsaint Music, Inc. BMI
"Walk Right Back," written by Sonny Curtis, performed by Anne Murray, courtesy of Warner-Tamerline Publishing Corp. BMI
"Cowboys Don't Get Lucky All the Time," written by Dallas Harms, performed by Gene Watson, courtesy of Doubleplay Music BMI
"I Cheated on a Good Woman's Love," written by Del Bryant, performed by Billy 'Crash' Craddock, courtesy of Onhisown Music BMI.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
28 June 1978
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 28 June 1978
Production Date:
2 May -- early August 1977
Copyright Claimant:
United Artists Corporation
Copyright Date:
2 November 1978
Copyright Number:
PA17511
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Color by Deluxe®
Widescreen/ratio
Filmed in Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
114
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

On an Arizona highway, truck driver Rubber Duck talks on his citizens band (CB) radio while Melissa, a beautiful photographer, speeds past in her convertible, taking pictures. A policeman swerves to avoid a collision with the vehicles and threatens Duck with a citation, but Duck talks the officer out of the ticket, claiming that Melissa was a distraction because she was not wearing pants. In the distance, Melissa takes photographs and speeds away when the officer goes after her. Back on the road, Duck radios nearby truckers Love Machine, who drives a load of pigs, and Spider Mike, a young African American driver, to warn them about the officer. Love Machine brags about his fancy truck, but Spider Mike changes Love Machine’s radio handle to Pig Pen and they acknowledge Duck as a legendary trucker. The three men are caught in a speed trap set by Sheriff “Dirty” Lyle Wallace, who threatens to give the men with tickets unless they pay him off. At a diner, Melissa sells her clothes to Black Widow, an African American female truck driver, and Violet, a waitress. When Duck arrives, Melissa recognizes him and complains that she had trouble with the police after Duck reported she was driving half-naked. When Melissa says that she sold her convertible, Duck offers her a ride, provoking Violet’s jealousy, bur Duck takes Violet to his truck for a sexual tryst in honor of his birthday. Meanwhile, Mike and Pig Pen see Wallace pull up to the diner. Knowing that Wallace is eavesdropping on the radio, Mike and Pig Pen and mock the sheriff, provoking him to ... +


On an Arizona highway, truck driver Rubber Duck talks on his citizens band (CB) radio while Melissa, a beautiful photographer, speeds past in her convertible, taking pictures. A policeman swerves to avoid a collision with the vehicles and threatens Duck with a citation, but Duck talks the officer out of the ticket, claiming that Melissa was a distraction because she was not wearing pants. In the distance, Melissa takes photographs and speeds away when the officer goes after her. Back on the road, Duck radios nearby truckers Love Machine, who drives a load of pigs, and Spider Mike, a young African American driver, to warn them about the officer. Love Machine brags about his fancy truck, but Spider Mike changes Love Machine’s radio handle to Pig Pen and they acknowledge Duck as a legendary trucker. The three men are caught in a speed trap set by Sheriff “Dirty” Lyle Wallace, who threatens to give the men with tickets unless they pay him off. At a diner, Melissa sells her clothes to Black Widow, an African American female truck driver, and Violet, a waitress. When Duck arrives, Melissa recognizes him and complains that she had trouble with the police after Duck reported she was driving half-naked. When Melissa says that she sold her convertible, Duck offers her a ride, provoking Violet’s jealousy, bur Duck takes Violet to his truck for a sexual tryst in honor of his birthday. Meanwhile, Mike and Pig Pen see Wallace pull up to the diner. Knowing that Wallace is eavesdropping on the radio, Mike and Pig Pen and mock the sheriff, provoking him to barge into the diner. Widow senses trouble and radios Duck, who returns inside as Wallace tries to arrest Mike. Afraid of going to jail, Mike says his wife is about to have a baby, but Wallace insinuates that the child belongs to another man and Mike punches him. When Wallace reaches for his gun, Duck knocks him unconscious and handcuffs him to the counter. Just then, the officer who went after Melissa arrives, displeased that she did not acquiesce to his proposition, and a fight ensues. With the officers knocked unconscious, the truckers handcuff them and go outside to disable the police cars. Now an outlaw, Duck heads for the New Mexico state line with Melissa and his companions follow behind. Back inside the diner, Violet extricates Wallace from his handcuffs and he rushes outside to confiscate a car so he can pursue the truck drivers. Meanwhile, word spreads about Duck’s defiance on the radio and truckers join the convoy to show their solidarity with the outlaws. When Wallace catches up to them, Duck accidentally sideswipes Wallace’s vehicle and sends him flying off the road, provoking Wallace to call for back up. Meanwhile, Melissa worries that she will be charged as an accessory and demands to be let out of the truck, but Duck does not stop, reminding her that they are being chased. The trucker convoy speeds onto a dirt road as the police give chase and one officer loses control of his vehicle. Sometime later, when Mike and Pig Pen crush Wallace’s police car with their trucks, Wallace radios New Mexico Chief Stacey Love to warn that the convoy is headed across the state line. As the convoy gains momentum, Melissa asks Duck how he got his name and he replies that his father advised him to be “smooth on the surface” but “paddle like the devil underneath.” Soon, a police helicopter manned by Wallace and federal agent Hamilton catches up to the truckers. Over the radio, Hamilton refers to Duck by his real name, Martin Pennwalt, and orders him to pull over, but Duck does not respond. Demonstrating his fluency in CB lingo, Wallace gets on the radio and warns Duck that the police have orders to shoot him at a nearby blockade. However, Duck replies that his truck is carrying the explosive Nitromannite and police at the blockade run away as the convoy plows through unharmed. After greeting a town full of cheering supporters, the convoy returns to the highway, where Chuck Arnoldi, assistant to New Mexico Governor Haskins, rides alongside in a press van. Pulling up to Duck’s truck, Arnoldi asks if the convoy is a protest, but Duck responds that their only goal is to “keep moving.” Arnoldi unsuccessfully attempts to convince Duck that the governor is sympathetic to the truckers and admits that Haskins has been pressured to call in the National Guard. When Arnoldi claims that Haskins is concerned a massacre of the convoy will damage his image during the election year, Duck agrees to talk with the governor. Later, Mike returns home through Texas for the birth of this child, but he is beaten and jailed by Wallace for “resisting arrest.” Meanwhile, the convoy truckers establish camp in Albuquerque and Duck and Melissa make love. Governor Haskins arrives by helicopter with a press entourage but speaks to Duck privately, asking Duck to join him in Washington, DC. Before Duck can respond, he receives news that Mike is in trouble. A crowd forms to plan a rescue operation, but Haskins warns that sometimes an individual must be sacrificed for the greater good. As Duck leaves the camp alone to find Mike, the convoy separates and Melissa finds a ride with Pig Pen. However, when Duck arrives at the Texas jailhouse the next morning, the convoy reconvenes and the trucks charge toward Wallace, crushing cars and buildings in their path. After plowing into the jail, Duck confronts Wallace as Pig Pen and Widow release Mike. Although Mike blames another officer, Tiny Alvarez, for his beating, Duck is unwilling to forgive Wallace and the Sheriff vows revenge. Apologizing to Mike, Duck heads to Mexico with his cargo of truckers in tow, but before they cross the border, Pig Pen nearly runs into a school bus and he and the convoy are separated from Duck. Although Duck and Melissa forge ahead, Wallace waits with the National Guard at the border. When Wallace radios Duck with a warning to give himself up, Duck orders Melissa out of the truck and speeds over a bridge toward the blockade. While Melissa chases on foot after the vehicle, Wallace and the national guardsmen shoot at Duck repeatedly, causing the truck to explode and the cab, with Duck inside, to plummet into the water below. Hearing the explosion, Duck’s trucker companions blow their horns in his honor. Sometime later, the convoy reunites for Duck’s memorial service and Governor Haskins grandstands for the truckers’ votes, but they demonstrate their discontent by driving away. Melissa is offered a ride and finds Duck on the bus, waiting for her. As they leave, Duck waves at Wallace, who laughs at his defeat. +

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

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