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According to the Films of Henry Fonda from the Citadel Film Series, The Great Smokey Roadblock was on the shelf for two years before being released. After that I suppose the producers decided this one was strictly for the red state drive in trade. I certainly don't remember it being exhibited in Brooklyn at the time.
It's not a bad film, it was the kind of thing that Fonda did during that last decade, mostly films strictly for the paycheck and no strain on any ability. He's a typical red state hero, a hard working truck driver who because of a prolonged hospital stay was unable to keep up payments on his big rig and the bank repossessed it. Not something you do to Fonda who steals the truck back and goes looking for a last big load.
And what a load it is. A favorite place of Fonda's a cat house that caters to men of the road has been shut down and Eileen Brennan and her girls have been told to cease and desist. But she's got a new location in South Carolina so she moves bag and all the baggage with Fonda from Wyoming.
The film has a few laughs but some serious flaws as well. Try as I might I could not understand why the eyes of a nation should be focused on Fonda and his plight. Nor could I understand why he could not get a legitimate load for his vehicle even if it was stolen in the eyes of the law. Why should those shipping if he's got a good reputation care? And the villain of the piece drugstore cowboy truck driver Gary Sandy was hostile to Fonda for reasons that were never made clear. And Robert England's character of a hitchhiker Fonda picks up along the way is never really any kind of coherent.
I did enjoy sheriff Dub Taylor and how the women got around him after he jails Fonda and them. And the women do have a good way for paying for gas, food and lodging.
Young Susan Sarandon had a bit role as one of Eileen Brennan's girls. The Great Smokey Roadblock while not great was better than a lot of what Fonda was in during his last decade.
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