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Convoy (1978) Poster

(1978)

Trivia

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The duck on the hood of Rubber Duck's (Kris Kristofferson) Mack truck was later used in Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof (2007) as the hood ornament on Stuntman Mike's (Kurt Russell) hotrod. It was created by John Billings, for which he received a thanks credit from Tarantino.
Director Sam Peckinpah allowed actor and long-time associate James Coburn to work on the movie as a second-unit director to get his DGA card, and rumor has it that Coburn actually directed some scenes when Peckinpah was "unwell."
In CB radio slang, 'Front Door' is the first vehicle of the convoy.
Sam Peckinpah's original cut was around 3-1/2 hours long. Since he wasn't involved in post-production, the film was edited by studio staff and editor Garth Craven down to 1 hour and 50 minutes.
The Mack truck in the shootout scene on the bridge was actually damaged so badly that it broke down just moments before filming the scene and had to be pushed across the bridge by a bulldozer to complete it.
The song "Old Home Fill 'Er Up and Keep On A-Truckin' Cafe" had been written in 1974 by Bill Fries (aka CW McCall) for a series of bread commercials in Nebraska, and the success of the song and commercials inspired him to write more trucking-type songs, including "Convoy" , resulting in increased interest with CB radios and trucker lingo. By the time the movie went into production in 1977, however, the trend had already faded, but that didn't stop it from being a box-office hit.
This was a hit in the Soviet Union at the time, as it showed a working-class rebellion against a corrupt government.
Although the movie was inspired by the 1976 song of the same title, the song really didn't have much of a plot. So after the screenplay was written, Bill Fries (aka CW McCall) recorded a new version of the song, with lyrics that incorporated the characters and events of the film. This is the version that is played during the final credits.
Hal Needham and Burt Reynolds were offered a chance to do this film, but they decided to make Smokey and the Bandit (1977) instead.
In Bill Norton's second draft of the screenplay dated January 1977 the trucker stadium funeral takes place at the beginning instead of the end.
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Steve McQueen was originally approached to play the Rubber Duck, but turned it down.
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On the day the climactic funeral scene was set to film, with the cast, crew and 3,000 extras assembled, Sam Peckinpah locked himself in his trailer for 12 hours, refusing to communicate with anyone. He also fired several crew members and assistants as filming dragged on. With their director incapacitated, James Coburn and the other assistant directors essentially finished directing the film themselves.
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Filming finally wrapped in early September 1977, two months behind schedule and $3,000,000 over budget. A month later, however, Sam Peckinpah was assigned to re-shoot several scenes, which he did without incident. After several months of editing, he delivered a rough cut without bothering to include the final half-hour of the movie. EMI finally lost patience with him and took over editing; yet again, Peckinpah was barred from finishing his own movie.
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The highest grossing film of Sam Peckinpah's career.
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The four leading actors all appeared in previous Sam Peckinpah films: Kris Kristofferson (Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (1973) and Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974) ), Ali MacGraw (The Getaway (1972)), Ernest Borgnine (The Wild Bunch (1969)), and Burt Young (The Killer Elite (1975)).
Sam Peckinpah encouraged his stars to write their own dialogue. James Coburn admitted that "There was no conflict. They didn't know what the fuck was going on."
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Sam Peckinpah was using heavy amounts of cocaine, quaaludes and vitamin shots that left him both irritable and irrational. At one point he called his nephew David E. Peckinpah, from the set, ranting that Steve McQueen and the Executive Car Leasing Co. were conspiring to kill him.
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The famous scene where the tanker truck goes off a bridge and explodes was filmed in Needles, CA, on a one-way bridge over the Colorado River between Arizona and Needles. The Needles City Fire Department provided fire protection during this scene. The bridge was soon removed, as a new span connected the two sides of the river.
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While the film was a hit, Sam Peckinpah's behavior onset made him uninsurable. It would be five years before he directed another film.
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One change Sam Peckinpah made to the script was the casting of black actors to add more dimension.
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The name of the company on the door of Burt Young's truck is "Paulie Hauling." "Paulie" is the name of Young's popular character in Rocky (1976).
Bill Norton's original script was a lighthearted action comedy similar to Smokey and the Bandit (1977). He pitched the script to EMI, which offered the script to Sam Peckinpah, then finishing post-production on Cross of Iron (1977). Though dubious about the project's potential, Peckinpah agreed on condition that he had complete control over the film. The studio agreed, and trouble promptly began. Peckinpah immediately started rewriting Norton's script, envisioning it as a modern-day Western with truckers fighting against crooked lawmen and unfair interstate regulations, while also adding heavy-handed political satire.
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Rubber Duck's truck is generally represented in the film as a 1977 Mack RS712LST, although several other Mack RS700L-series trucks were used as doubles and stationary props.
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The original 1977 Mack truck, its on-road movie double and the only original remaining tank trailer are in St. Louis, MO, on display at the Museum of Transportation.
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According to the audio commentary on "42nd Street Forever Volume 4", Gene Hackman turned down directing the film.
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The overturning of Widow Woman's truck wasn't supposed to happen and was subsequently written into the script after it occurred. Moreover, stuntman Bob Herron was originally supposed to crash into the barn after Sheriff Lyle Wallace's car goes through the billboard.
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Ernest Borgnine came up with the idea for Sheriff Lyle Wallace to be handcuffed to a barstool with a removable seat.
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A majority of the "Jesus freaks" on the micro bus are played by members of Kris Kristofferson's touring band from the 1970s.
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The barroom brawl took ten days to shoot.
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Production halted for several weeks when Kris Kristofferson left the shoot for a concert tour.
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The "tank" used at the end of the movie is actually an M42 40mm Self-Propelled Anti-Aircraft Gun called a "Duster". It was used in the Korean War for anti-aircraft and in the Vietnam War for truck convoy protection duty.
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Entire action scenes were re-structured around accidental wrecks and botched stunts which Sam Peckinpah left in the finished film.
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Ali MacGraw found working with Sam Peckinpah on this film to be so stressful that she got a fever blister on her lower lip from all the stress she was feeling.
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Although not clear in the film, Violet the truck stop waitress is actually "Dirty" Lyle Wallace's wife. According to the commentators on the 2016 Special Edition DVD/Blu Ray, it was more implicit in the script and added to the personal tensions between Lyle and Rubber Duck, since RD is very clearly engaged in an affair with Violet. The only hints that remain in the overall film is when RD asks Violet if/when is she going to leave her "old man" (slang for "husband") when she comes back into the truck stop after the fight and lets Lyle out. He then says to her, "We'll talk about this later." Although it can be inferred from this line and the fact that she actually freed him that they are involved (in the same way she's involved with RD), there is no direct implication that they are married. It only exists in the script.
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Sam Peckinpah refused to deal with producer Bob Sherman, enlisting his actors and crew members to run interference.
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Within two weeks, production was well behind schedule.
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C W McCall (Bill Fries, who reached #1 on both Billboard pop and country charts with the song "Convoy", was elected mayor of Ouray, CO, in November 1985.
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Kris Kristofferson is a former Army Ranger. He reached the rank of captain during his five years of service.
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When shooting went over schedule, the production had to stop for one month due to the fact that Kris Kristofferson had touring commitments with his band. Additionally, when production resumed, Kristofferson's band played small parts as truck drivers when the production was unable to get back the actors who had been previously cast in the film due to their other commitments to other films.
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Director Cameo 

Sam Peckinpah: a sound engineer aboard a mobile unit.
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See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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