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Citizens Band (1977)

Handle with Care (original title)
PG | | Comedy, Drama | 13 November 1981 (UK)
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 »


Jonathan Demme


Paul Brickman
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Paul Le Mat ... Spider
Candy Clark ... Electra
Bruce McGill ... Blood
Roberts Blossom ... Papa Thermodyne
Charles Napier ... Chrome Angel
Ann Wedgeworth ... Dallas Angel
Marcia Rodd ... Portland Angel
Alix Elias ... Hot Coffee
Richard Bright ... Smilin' Jack
Ed Begley Jr. ... The Priest
Michael Rothman Michael Rothman ... Cochise
Michael Mahler Michael Mahler ... The Hustler
Harry Northup ... The Red Baron
Will Seltzer Will Seltzer ... Warlock
Leila Smith 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:

13 November 1981 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Citizens Band See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Bruce McGill's first movie. See more »


Reflected in the window of Spider's house when Pam runs up to help and Blaine answers the door. See more »


Electra: There are a lot of voices out there but... yours is different. I like it. Come on.
See more »


Referenced in Midnight Movies: From the Margin to the Mainstream (2005) See more »


Happy Birthday to You
Written by Mildred J. Hill and Patty S. Hill
See more »

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User Reviews

A Ticklish Little Trial Run for Its Director
5 August 2010 | by jzappaSee 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!

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