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Honky Tonk Freeway (1981)

PG | | Action, Comedy | 21 August 1981 (USA)
A satire of American progression in which a mayor tries to bribe an official to ensure a ramp connects Ticlaw to an up-and-coming intrastate. When his plan fails, the town residents are forced to take matters into their own hands.


John Schlesinger


Edward Clinton
4 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
David Rasche ... Eddie White
Paul Jabara Paul Jabara ... T.J. Tupus
Howard Hesseman ... Snapper
Teri Garr ... Ericka
Jenn Thompson Jenn Thompson ... Delia
Peter Billingsley ... Little Billy
Beau Bridges ... Duane Hansen
Beverly D'Angelo ... Carmen Odessa Shelby
Daniel Stern ... Hitchhiker
Sandra McCabe Sandra McCabe ... Prostitute
Celia Weston ... Grace
Deborah Rush ... Sister Mary Magdalene
Geraldine Page ... Sister Mary Clarise
George Dzundza ... Eugene
Joe Grifasi ... Osvaldo


Ticlaw, a small town in Florida, has only one attraction: a safari park. The government constructs a freeway that passes near Ticlaw, but decides not to put an exit into the town. The people of Ticlaw, led by its Mayor, will do anything in order to convince the governor to alter the project. Written by Michel Rudoy <mdrc@hp9000a1.uam.mx>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


PROMISES ARE MADE IN HEAVEN - But carried out on Earth See more »


Action | Comedy


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Director John Schlesinger's original cut was somewhere in the range of three hours. See more »


During the scene where the orphans are being shown the petting zoo, a crew member or the director can be heard giving the cue to "Scream! Scream! Ricky!" as the children become afraid of the white horse they've mistaken for "Ricky the Carnivorous Pony." See more »


Duane Hansen: I love you.
Carmen Odessa Shelby: Oh Duane, you don't even know me. I've slept with over three hundred men.
Duane Hansen: Everyone has their faults.
Carmen Odessa Shelby: Three hundred men? In Paducah, Kentucky? Duane, wasn't easy.
Duane Hansen: It's an accomplishment.
Carmen Odessa Shelby: No, Duane, it's a problem. It's a real problem. I'm like Ricky the Carnivorous Pony in respect to men.
Duane Hansen: I love you, I need you, and I wanna make you happy, that's all.
Carmen Odessa Shelby: Oh, I don't know if that's what I really want out of life.
See more »


Referenced in The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs: C.H.U.D. (2019) See more »


Ticlaw Anthem
Written by George Martin and Frank Musker
See more »

User Reviews

Deserves another look.
21 April 2013 | by Hey_SwedenSee all my reviews

From writer Edward Clinton and director John Schlesinger ("Midnight Cowboy") comes this offbeat collection of character driven vignettes. It's overall quite engaging and it's too bad that the film was a major flop upon its initial release. The cast is excellent and the movie is generally amusing, the kind of thing that should generate some smiles if no outright belly laughs.

The main story thread is that of a tiny Florida town named Ticlaw, whose only real claim to fame that they can make is a safari park (including a water skiing elephant) operated by mayor / entrepreneur Kirby Calo (William Devane). When the government creates a brand spanking new freeway, but neglects to put in an exit leading to Ticlaw, Calo and the various citizens resort to some desperate measures to ensure tourist traffic - such as painting the town pink. As this goes on, we're introduced to an assortment of people who each have their own reasons for travelling to Florida. Among them are a pair of bank robbers (George Dzundza and Joe Grifasi), a waitress transporting her mothers' ashes (Beverly D'Angelo) and a copy machine repairman / wannabe children's' book author (Beau Bridges), a veteran nun and a novice one (Geraldine Page and Deborah Rush), a dentist and his family (Howard Hesseman, Teri Garr, Jenn Thompson and Peter Billingsley) in an RV, an old ad man and his alcoholic wife (Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy) and a truck driver & wannabe country & western songwriter (Paul Jabara, who does co-write some of the songs for the soundtrack).

One of the delights here is in checking out a cast just FULL of familiar faces - in addition to those mentioned, David Rasche, Daniel Stern, Celia Weston, Frances Lee McCain, Jerry Hardin, John Ashton, Frances Bay, Nancy Parsons, Leo Burmester, Jeffrey Combs, and an uncredited Anne Ramsey all turn up as well. There are enough lively and amusing moments to make for decent entertainment, as well as an ingratiating mixture of satire and slapstick. Schlesinger proves himself quite capable of handling comedy on a grand scale and keeps things interesting throughout, allowing the large cast time to create some memorable and endearing characters. While watching, the viewer will be intrigued to see how all of these people will meet, and what their fates will be. Plus, you just can't help but root for Calo and his crazy comrades, no matter what their methods might be.

Overall, "Honky Tonk Freeway" is good fun, is punctuated by some catchy songs, and has enough spirit to make it watchable for a decently paced 107 minutes. Another review here describes it as "Hal Needham meets Robert Altman", which is a very good way to put it indeed. Hopefully more comedy fans can discover it and lift it out of obscurity.

Seven out of 10.

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Release Date:

21 August 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Honky Tonk Freeway See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA See more »


Box Office


$24,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$939,423, 23 August 1981

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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