Handle With Care / Citizens Band (1977)

“Trying to talk and hear at the same time is like trying to eat and kiss. It’s a mess!”

Synopsis:
An idealistic young man (Paul Le Mat) running a voluntary station to help truckers in distress gets so fed up with frivolous use of the emergency frequency by amateur CB-ers that he tries to hunt down and stop the perpetrators. Meanwhile, his neglected girlfriend (Candy Clark) starts fooling around with his more attentive brother (Bruce McGill).

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary notes, this “amiable comedy-character study” features “smart dialogue, quirky but believable, engaging characters, and a nice mix of humor and occasional drama.” Unfortunately, while the quirky characters and their situations are amusing at first, director Jonathan Demme inexplicably shifts into slapstick mode by the end, with contrived coincidences complicating the film’s overall laid-back approach. Nonetheless, as Peary notes, this film is notable for moving Demme “into [the] Hollywood mainstream” when it “got excellent reviews”.

Redeeming Qualities:

  • Paul Le Mat as Spider
  • Charles Napier as a bigamist whose two wives accidentally meet one day
  • A horrifying early scene in the rain, when Napier is nearly killed by his semi until Spider comes to his rescue

Must See?
No. While this is an interesting look at a subculture, it’s not must-see viewing.

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One Response to “Handle With Care / Citizens Band (1977)”

  1. First viewing. A once-must, for the performances and as a good example of director Demme’s versatility.

    ~this may also simply be a welcome surprise for ffs to happen upon, with Paul Brickman’s rather original screenplay holding unlikely subject matter for a film.

    I can’t see at all what is referred to in the review as “slapstick mode” at the film’s conclusion – instead, the parallel storylines throughout just meet at a mild intersection of discovery.

    Whereas, admittedly, leading players Le Mat and Clark are serviceable but a bit lacking in vitality, the supporting cast lends very enjoyable support: McGill, Charles Napier, Ann Wedgeworth, Marcia Rodd, Alix Elias, and Roberts Blossom.

    By turns quietly humorous and heartfelt, the film reveals Demme’s knack for an understanding of the human spirit.

    I understand the more commercial (alternate?) title of ‘Handle With Care’, but it’s needlessly precious compared with the to-the-point title, ‘Citizens Band’.

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