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Mother, Jugs & Speed (1976)

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Competition between privately owned Los Angeles ambulance companies is played for humor.


Peter Yates


Stephen Manes (story), Tom Mankiewicz (screenplay) | 1 more credit »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Bill Cosby ... Mother
Raquel Welch ... Jugs
Harvey Keitel ... Speed
Allen Garfield ... Harry Fishbine
Larry Hagman ... Murdoch
L.Q. Jones ... Davey
Bruce Davison ... Leroy
Dick Butkus ... Rodeo
Milt Kamen Milt Kamen ... Barney
Barra Grant Barra Grant ... Miss Crocker
Allan Warnick ... Bliss
Valerie Curtin ... Naomi Fishbine
Ric Carrott Ric Carrott ... Harvey
Severn Darden ... Moran
Bill Henderson ... Charles Taylor


Los Angeles: A new law says that the first ambulance that arrives at an accident obtains the contract to transport the injured person. The result is ruthless competition between several companies. Written by Tom Zoerner <Tom.Zoerner@informatik.uni-erlangen.de>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A black and blue comedy See more »


Comedy | Drama


PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

26 May 1976 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

C.R.A.S.H. See more »


Box Office


$3,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The producers wanted Gene Hackman, who was shooting Lucky Lady (1975) down in Mexico at the time, for the lead role of "Mother" Tucker. Tom Mankiewicz flew down to Mexico and met with Hackman, who had already read the script. Hackman explained that he was overworked, and turned down the role. Hackman recommended a wonderful comic he had seen on television for the role, Bill Cosby. Producers Mankiewicz and Yates met with Cosby after he'd read the script, and offered him the part. See more »


In several wide shots of the F&B Station during the climax, the windows go from three bullet holes to windows free of damage. See more »


Harry Fishbine: This is STILL the United States of America, god damn it! Los Angeles, California! Land of the free, home of the...
Mother: Rams and the Dodgers!
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Referenced in Mystery Science Theater 3000: It Lives by Night (1999) See more »


Get The Funk Out Ma Face
Performed by The Brothers Johnson
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User Reviews

Holds up well for a thirty year old film
6 July 2004 | by oshram-3See all my reviews

'Mother' chronicles the adventures of a group of privatized ambulance drivers (in 1976?) working for the Fishbine Ambulance company. You get the usual assortment of stiffs for the mid-70s; the new guy, Speed (Harvey Keitel), the hot chick, Jugs (Raquel Welch), the lecherous loser, Murdoch (Larry Hagman), the overbearing boss, Fishbine (Allen Garfield), the nerdy effete guy, Bliss (Allan Warnick), and your resident smart-ass, Mother (Bill Cosby). Now, these days, you don't think of Bill Cosby when you think of smart-ass, but this was almost thirty years ago. Things were different.

'Mother' is a product of its time, very 70s, with a rant about inflation and how bad the economy is; Mother's partner Leroy (a very young Bruce Davison) gets high all the time, and there's a flap later on when Jugs earns her EMT certificate and wants to ride in the ambulance with the guys. Such a thing wouldn't even bat an eye now, but was an issue back then. But 'Mother' is also amusing. Some of the comedy is obvious – one extremely obese black woman is too heavy to carry and her gurney slips from their grip, taking a joyride down a hilly street. But a lot of it is surprisingly sharp, thanks mostly to Cosby's excellent timing and deadpan delivery. Mother has a one-liner for every situation, and, surprise, most of them are really funny.

While the rest of the cast is fine – Keitel portrays a slightly nicer version of the cool, collected guy he often plays, Welch is pleasant but her character isn't particularly deep, and Garfield is good as a sort of proto-Louie DePalma – the movie is really Cosby's show. From bribing the cops to drinking beer on the job, from ‘buzzing' the nuns with his siren to eating his hamburgers with peanut butter, onions, and mayonnaise on them, Mother is a real character in every good sense of the word. While the film does not always excel and in some places falls sort of flat, Cosby is always spot on here, and it's worth sitting through some of the slower stretches for him alone.

I was thinking as I was watching this film that it would be prime fodder for a remake. Bernie Mac would ace the Cosby role, you could find any number of women to play Jugs (I suggest Heather Graham), and it would be almost painfully easy to update the 70s-isms into modern day slang/events. You could even be topical and switch Bliss from metrosexual to full-out gay (which is implied but never said in the film anyway). In looking up this film on the IMDB, however, I discovered someone already did try to make this into a TV show, so apparently I wasn't the first one who thought this had potential (though TV is the wrong venue; much of the film's humor is ribald, and you sure as hell couldn't call any woman on TV ‘Jugs'). 'Mother' is an enjoyable film, not much more than your average summer filler, but still able to elicit several good chuckles almost thirty years later. It's certainly worth it to see Cosby play the bad boy with aplomb.

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