Cannonball! (1976)

Cannonball! (1976)

“I knew you couldn’t pass up this damn race.”

An ex-con named Cannonball (John Carradine) — whose unscrupulous brother (Dick Miller) has placed a huge bet on him with a menacing bookie (Paul Bartel) — is accompanied by his girlfriend (Veronica Hamel) on an underground cross-country race, competing against his best friend Zippo (Archie Hahn), a van of three gutsy waitresses (Mary Woronov, Glynn Rubin, and Diane Lee Hart), a Black man (Stanley Bennett Clay) driving a car on behalf of a middle-aged white couple, an arrogant German (James Keach), a duplicitous man (Terry McMillan) traveling with his mistress (Louisa Moritz), a sweet young couple (Robert Carradine and Belinda Balaski), and Cannonball’s arch-rival (Bill McKinney), who is riding along with an annoying country-western star (Gerrit Graham) and his hovering mother (Judy Canova).

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Car Racing
  • Comedy
  • David Carradine Films
  • Dick Miller Films
  • Ensemble Cast
  • Rivalry

Paul Bartel directed this precursor to star-filled Cannonball Run (1981), both based on an actual unsanctioned cross-country race still in existence. It’s well made and colorfully filmed, with plenty (plenty) of chases, pile-ups, fights, and fiery crashes to enjoy (if that’s your thing), as well as some some get-back-at-the-cops action. For better or for worse, there’s a pretty clear line drawn in this film between the good guys, the bad and/or troubled folks, and the in-between guys (and gals) — and it’s fairly satisfying seeing the outcomes fall neatly in line, especially for the most sympathetic protagonists, who “do the right thing” time and again.

For a fun overview of many of the cars in this film, click here [archived web page].

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • A well-crafted car racing adventure

Must See?
No, though of course it’s recommended if you enjoy this type of fare.


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