Last year, we rolled out a list of six classic truck-driving movies that never rose to the same level of fame as, say, Smokey and the Bandit or Convoy. The topic of underrated trucker films proved so popular with our readers, we decided to profile six more movies you may not know about, but should.
We had to dig a little deeper into the forgotten movie scrapheap to compile the list below. While not all the following films are masterpieces, they are big-rig flicks deserving of a little more recognition.
Rolling Vengeance (1987)
Fans of 18-wheelers and monster trucks will love this version of the classic trucker-gets-justice-the-only-way-he-can tale. Don Michael Paul plays a Canadian trucker who must avenge the murder of his parents and sisters by a corrupt family that is above the law. He naturally does this by constructing a massive, Big Foot-style truck that mows down everything—and everyone—in its path.
Fun Fact: Ned Beatty, of Superman and Deliverance fame, stars as the evil bigwig responsible for killing off the trucker’s family.
They Drive by Night (1940)
This thriller starring George Raft and Humphrey Bogart may be the first trucker flick to gain mainstream success. Bogart and Raft star as brothers who run a one-truck business hauling goods in and out of Los Angeles. There’s murder, corruption, forbidden love and at least one truck bursting into flames as the brothers struggle to build their trucking company and stay out of trouble.
Fun Fact: Bogart was on the brink of a legendary career when he starred in They Drive by Night. Within the next few years, he’d have lead roles in classics like The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca and The Big Sleep.
Coast to Coast (1980)
Dyan Cannon stars as Madie, a well-to-do but neurotic woman who escapes a state mental hospital and meets a moody, over-the-road driver played by Robert Blake. The trucker is reluctant to help Madie out until he secretly learns of the reward for returning her to the hospital. Somewhere along the Interstate between New York and California, the pair falls in love and wards off several bad guys along the way. The climactic scene involves a semi barreling through a lavish outdoor dinner party hosted by Madie’s greedy, no-good husband.
Fun Fact: Blake earned a Razzie Award nomination for Worst Actor of 1980 for his portrayal of trucker Charles Callahan.
Maximum Overdrive (1986)
Horror and comedy converge in this movie directed by Stephen King. Ex-con and truck stop employee Emilio Estevez uses firearms and rocket launchers to fight off a fleet of big-rigs that have strangely come to life. The ensuing battle scenes feature several classic vehicles, including a M274 Mule and a Western Star 4800 decked out in a giant Green Goblin mask.
Fun Fact: Maximum Overdrive’s soundtrack consists entirely of AC/DC songs, including “Hell’s Bells” and “You Shook Me All Night Long.”
Christmas Comes to Willow Creek (1987)
Not all movie truck drivers are angry, revenge-seeking cowboys. Some of them are nice guys just trying to help each other out. Tom Wopat and John Schneider star as brother truckers who must deliver Christmas presents to the troubled town of Willow Creek, Alaska. Along the way, the brothers contend with a severe blizzard as well as Schneider’s estranged wife, who is about to go into labor. Because Christmas Comes to Willow Creek is a made-for-TV Hallmark movie, a holiday miracle occurs and everything works out just fine in the end.
Fun Fact: This movie was a reunion for Wopat and Schneider, who played outlaw cousins Bo and Luke in The Dukes of Hazzard.
For decades, Jimmy Hoffa was one of the most influential men in the country as boss of the powerful Teamsters union. This underrated movie starring Jack Nicholson and directed by Danny DeVito follows Hoffa’s rise to union president, his under-the-table dealings with the Mafia and his mysterious 1975 disappearance. If you are interested in the history of the trucking industry, this film is a must-see.
Fun Fact: Despite a big budget and an all-star cast, Hoffa was a flop with critics and moviegoers. Nicholson earned a Razzie nomination for Worst Actor of 1992.
Sources: Rotten Tomatoes, IMDB.com, www.Truckerflicks.com