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The Cannonball Run (1981)

PG | | Action, Comedy, Sport | 19 June 1981 (USA)
A wide variety of eccentric competitors participate in a wild and illegal cross-country road race. However, the eccentric entrants will do anything to win the road race, including low-down, dirty tricks.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Subaru Driver #1
Chief Biker
A. F. Foyt
Subaru Driver #2


This comedy film brings Burt Reynolds, Roger Moore, Farrah Fawcett, Dom DeLuise, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and an all-star cast to the starting line of the ultimate auto race, a madcap cross-country scramble that roars full-speed ahead. This action-comedy was inspired by an actual event: the Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash, an anything goes, all-stops-out - and very much illegal - competition that has grown to legendary proportions within the last ten years. Written by Murray Chapman <muzzle@cs.uq.oz.au>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


You'll root for them all...but you'll never guess who wins.


Action | Comedy | Sport


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






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Release Date:

19 June 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Cannonball Trophy  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$18,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$11,765,654 (USA) (21 June 1981)


$72,179,579 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The front shots of the ambulance driving down the road were some of the last to be filmed. In what Hal Needham referred to as "poorman's process" they were filmed in a garage with crewmen rocking the vehicle back and forth. The scene in the rain was filmed by simply spraying water on the windshield. See more »


When JJ and Victor are riding in the ambulance after their boating accident, the medic's lips say "Like shit through a goose", but the audio track says "Like shot through a gun" when describing how the ambulance gets through traffic. See more »


Shaky Finch: Come on! 1000 miles on one wheel? We're trying to win a race, not set a record!
See more »

Crazy Credits

An animated car drives around the 20th Century Fox logo, hiding out in the zero. It is chased by a police car, which crashes into one of the searchlights. The sequence ends with Burt Reynold's trademark laugh. See more »


References Behind the Green Door (1972) See more »


Love Is on the Air
Written by Larry Henley (as L. Henley), Jim Hurt (as J. Hurt) and Johnny Slate (as J. Slate)
Performed by Lou Rawls
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

First rate stars at a car chase caper in which all-assorted drivers dash at highly illegal race
29 March 2010 | by See all my reviews

An unusual assortment of pilots converge for a cross country automobile race where breaking the rules and chaotic car chases are part of the game , and everybody competing for a grand prize in less than legal rally. In the car race participates the protagonists, McClure( amiable Burt Reynolds in similar role to 'Smokey and the Bandit' films) and his sidekick schizophrenic Victor (Dom Deluise who turn in moments into Captain Chaos) disguising themselves as paramedics, a duo posing as priests(the Rat-Pack ,Sammy Davis, Dean Martin) , two Chinese (a racer Jackie Chan and engineer Michael Hui), two Lamborghini sexpot babes (Adrienne Barbeau, Tara) and of course Roger Moore in a James Bond character-alike and several others. Along the way they elude police , crash into road-blocks, and meet-up with a number of roles.

This race chase caper is full of witless comedy with tongue in cheek, noisy action, Kung-Fu fighting, gratuitous star cameos and many other things. This nutty film with extraordinary star-studded cast achieved a huge Box-office hit, one of 1981's top grosser, in spite of its brief amusing moments and ridiculous, embarrassing situations. Most interesting for plethora of cameos as Peter Fonda, Valerie Perrine, Jamie Farr, Jack Elam and many others . At the end there are out-takes such popular and usual subsequently. It's followed by a languid sequel, less than illustrious its predecessor, with similar actors and artist equipment , adding more explosive girls as Marilu Henner, Catherine Bach and Susan Anton, furthermore more Rat Pack as Frank Sinatra and Shirley McLaine. Booth of them were badly directed by the ex-stunt Hal Needham. Other films dealing with mindless cross-country wheel spinning , are the following : ¨Cannoball(1976)¨ by Paul Bartel with Robert Carradine, Mary Wonorov , Joe Dante ,¨Death race 2000¨ again by Paul Bartel with David Carradine, Silvester Stallone, Simone Griffith ¨Gumball rally(1976) ¨by Chuck Bail with Michael Sarrazin Gary Busey and Raul Julia, among them.

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