WHITE LINE FEVER – 1975, Rated PG
A young man comes home from the air force and invests in a seven and a half ton diesel truck but finds his new business venture may be in jeopardy unless he car wrest control of the trucking business from a powerful firm in this solid revenge flick from the seventies.
The story finds young Carrol Hummer wedding his best girl Jerri( I think they should have swapped names)and using their savings to make a down payment on their rig. His next step is to see an old friend, Duane, who can give him an over the road gig. Unfortunately things have changed since Carrol was last home. Now it is customary to smuggle slot machines and cigarettes with every load.
Carrol refuses to take the job and finds his truck smeared with manure in retaliation. He tries getting another run but everyone in town runs out of work whenever he steps in the door. In desperation he snags a job form Duane’s boss, Buck, at the end of a shotgun.
The delivery doesn’t go well . Buck tries every trick to stop him revealing that he has the police and a few bully boys in his employ.
Carrol fights back by enlisting some back up from other independent truckers. Before you know it they are challenging Buck at every turn. If you guessed that things will escalate then you have a copy of the revenge flick playbook in your back pocket.
Pretty soon bullets are flying and jaws get broken like so many China plates. Things get so tense that Jerri opts to keep it to herself when she realizes she is pregnant. Meanwhile the gloves come off when Buck enlists his thugs to murder Duane(death by semi isn’t pretty but it is quick)and frame Carrol for the deed.
Things look sewn up pretty well when the county prosecutor turns out to be one of Buck’s secret bosses. The bad guys make the mistake of getting over confident however and see their plot fizzle when Jerri testifies before the Grand Jury and manages to convince them not to charge her husband.
It all comes down to well staged smack down and one of the best truck stunts ever captured on film as Carrol revs up his metal beast and plunges it through the giant corporate logo that sits outside the bad guy’s complex.
This is one of the first trucker movies and is definitely a strong entry. Granted this genre produced a lot of turkeys(“Convoy” and ‘Breaker ,Breaker” spring to mind) but it got off to a fine start with this flick. It helps that the movie was made by Jonathan Kaplan, who perfected his skills working for the legendary Roger Corman. The film also benefits from cool stunts and picturesque south western locations.
By far the real secret weapon here is the cast. Jan-Michael Vincent is in fine form as the good natured but two fisted Carrol. He is definitely the toughest guy since a boy named Sue. Kay Lenz is worth rooting for as his loyal wife and Slim Pickens is instantly likable as Duane.
The film also rocks some excellent 70’s villains. L.Q. Jones is all swagger and macho as Buck. He is well assisted by Martin Kove(the evil Sensei who commanded his student to “sweep the leg” in The Karate Kid)as a goon and R.G. Armstrong(Pat Garret and Billy the Kid) as a smarmy lawyer.
This film is a steal at five bucks (which is what I paid for it at ‘K-Mart.”) The only disappointment is that it is billed as the 40TH Anniversary edition but comes with absolutely no extras. At least it’s back on DVD. Enjoy !
Best Line: “This is gonna give a green light to a lot of horse’s asses.”