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Deadhead Miles (1973)

R | | Comedy | 1973 (USA)
The story of a long-distance trucker and his experiences on the road.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Madison Arnold ...
Johnny Mesquitero
Patrick Campbell
Patrick Dennis-Leigh ...
Tile Loader
William Duell ...
Auto Parts Salesman
Truck Driver in Cafe
Hal England
Trouble Maker
Ray Galvin


The story of a long-distance trucker and his experiences on the road.

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1973 (USA)  »

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Did You Know?


George Raft's and Ida Lupino's appearances are a nod to their roles in "They Drive by Night". See more »


Cooper: Did you ever know someone who said that we'd be wild and crazy and free and then you find out she'd been using the imperial 'we'?
See more »


References They Drive by Night (1940) See more »

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User Reviews

Terrence Malick 101
4 June 2006 | by (Kansas, United States) – See all my reviews

As far as I can tell, this film is auteur Terrence Malick's little joke on Hollywood. Malick fans won't find any of Malick's signature directing style--he didn't direct it, and there is no style to speak of in the direction by Vernon Zimmerman. But the Malick script is full of quirky, goofy witticisms and scenes that are more smirk than laugh producing. I picture Malick musing to himself as he typed the final draft: "I wonder if someone will film this part" and then deciding, "Yes. This is America. Someone will."

Alan Arkin's character, Cooper, drives a yellow Peterbilt down America's highways and byways, tells us he's an "engine man," tries to hustle a load, finds humor where he can in a frankly eighth-grade-boy way: after throwing, one-by-one, a case of full Pepsi bottles at signs as he's driving, he turns to his hitchhiker passenger (the lantern-jawed Mr. Bentley from *The Jeffersons*!) and asks "Wasn't that fun? I had fun. That was my idea of a good time" (dialogue approximate). In another memorable scene Cooper sticks it to the trucker's nemesis--cops--in a way that reminds me of Kit Carruther's passive aggression in Malick's directorial debut, *Badlands* (1972) when he throws a set of the boss's keys into a barrel of oil after being told he's fired.

Interestingly, Arkin's character never talks on the CB, which is the first thing you'd expect a trucker to do in a trucker movie. Just shows how Malick is a great left turner.

If Arkin is not doing an impression of Terrence Malick's voice and accent in this film, I'll eat my hat. Arkin's "Texan meets Kermit the Frog" inflection (the way one interviewer described an imitator of Malick's voice) makes me wonder if Arkin met with Malick before filming began and picked up his vocal mannerisms. Hearing so many gregarious lines come out of Arkin's mouth is an eye-opener for Malick fans--I was thinking to myself as I watched and listened "I wonder what happened to Malick after this script to make him decide to be terse?"

Since there's no plot to speak of, the trucker-talk flavor of the film becomes its reason for being. By the end, I realized Malick simply strings together all the witty-to-a-redneck trucker talk he's heard, creates a sometimes realistic, sometimes surrealistic atmosphere around the world of trucking, and asks the audience, in a pugnaciously droll way, to take it or leave it.

Item of interest: the title *Deadhead Miles*, which I originally thought referred to a slacker named Miles, actually refers to the trucker's term for driving a semi with no load in the trailer. Ironically, Arkin's character carries a "load" in the trailer during the entire film. You'll understand why I put that word in quotes if you see the film.

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