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Handle with Care (1977)

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This movie interlaces the stories of several characters in a small town united by their use of CB (citizen's band) radio. Paul LeMat is the local CB coordinator who has time for little else... See full summary »



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Title: Handle with Care (1977)

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2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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An awkward teen girl hears a mysterious message on an old CB radio. When she goes to discover the source things are not what they seem.

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Papa Thermodyne
Chrome Angel
Dallas Angel
Portland Angel
Alix Elias ...
Hot Coffee
Richard Bright ...
Smilin' Jack
The Priest
Michael Rothman ...
Michael Mahler ...
The Hustler
Will Seltzer ...
Leila Smith ...
Grandma Breaker


This movie interlaces the stories of several characters in a small town united by their use of CB (citizen's band) radio. Paul LeMat is the local CB coordinator who has time for little else in his life. His father, Roberts Blossom is a sour old man who is nice on the radio. Charles Napier is a trucker hospitalized after an accident, with hilarious consequences. Written by Reid Gagle

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Everybody is somebody else


Comedy | Drama


PG | See all certifications »




Release Date:

29 September 1977 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Citizen's Band  »

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Bruce McGill's first movie. See more »


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User Reviews

A Ticklish Little Trial Run for Its Director
5 August 2010 | by (Cincinnati, OH, United States) – See all my reviews

This here is a forgotten little movie about a small town that communicates less than amicably via CB radio. I don't say that it's a forgotten little gem, like it would've been expected of me to say after 'forgotten little' because it's not really a gem. That's not to say it doesn't attempt some interesting things, and occasionally succeeds. At the center of the story, I think, is a young guy who repairs said radios and volunteers with a monitoring organization and acts as a sort of community FCC, busting everyone's balls on the somewhat taboo things they talk to each other about on this sort of walkie-talkie sort of system. Everyone's anonymous, it's very rare that this stickler of a guy can deduce who is who when he hears them and objects, and what it makes me think of as a young guy myself, watching it on a library VHS in the year 2010, is an earlier, unofficial form of social networking that is ubiquitous nowdays. MySpace, Facebook. REACT International is like a poor Mormon in a room full of rich atheists now.

Citizens Band is interesting because it was made in 1977 and I'm watching it now. Other than that, it's decent, but nothing really pops out at me. I stand by my claim of an uncanny parallel between the abuse of a citizens-band radio and the online networks of the information age. Look at what these characters do! Calling themselves by monikers on the airwaves such as Chrome Angel, Dallas Angel, Papa Thermodyne, Hot Coffee. Isn't that what we did for years on MySpace before we got sick of it and gravitated toward Facebook and started using our real names? At its core though, Citizens Band, or Handle With Care, as it is known in a further edited version, is a B comedy about an assortment of deadpan screwballs. That's not bad at all. Don't get me wrong. It feels like an Altman film in ensemble, in situations, in the depiction of a fully realized world of people, and certain plot strands are kind of novel and fun for that reason, such as when two women meet on their way to the same town, and find out they have more than a lot in common. Demme never looks down on his working class characters, displaying instead a compassion and empathy. Even a polygamist trucker, our young protagonist who in this day and age would probably be written off as a McCarthy or Murdoch sort of oppressor, and even his controlling, competitive older brother.

Having seen Demme's later work, from the 1980s and his obvious crowning achievements later on, I suppose I expected more of his love of music as well, and there is very little. But who am I to criticize a filmmaker at the start of his career, making B films and exploitation films, trying to get started, feeling out his strong suits and his weak ones? The reasons why an above-par director could've made a sub-par film is often because he has yet to discover the sources of his passions, the key to his craftsmanship. Citizens Band is one of those sub-par films by one of those above-par directors. And don't miss Bruce McGill in his first film. That's right, pre-D Day!

2 of 3 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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