Trucking is the backbone of the shipping industry, so it's little surprise that truck driver movies have been a staple for years, peaking in the 70s and 80s, but remaining popular to this day. Many of the movies are forgettable, but some are so popular they remain favorites even if they are a bit dated.
"Duel" was one of Steven Spielberg's first feature length directing gigs, and the auteur's beginnings can be felt throughout. Dennis Weaver plays a businessman traveling through the desert. When he blows past a slow-moving trucker (Carey Lofting), the trucker decides that it's an offense not to be taken lightly and tries to run him off the road. Not satisfied with simply wrecking the motorist, the truck driver then decides to murder him with his big rig. "Duel" is one of the few truck driver movies where the driver is the bad guy.
"Breaker! Breaker!" (1977)
Chuck Norris plays a truck driver that has to save his younger brother from the corrupt arm of the law in this b-movie that is too fun to forget. Haters will claim that the movie has neither style nor substance, but when has any movie starring Chuck Norris as a guy that kicks people in the face for justice? The dialog is over the top, but delivered with such earnestness that one can't help but laugh. In the end, a whole squadron of truckers comes to the Texas ranger's aid, tearing the whole town down in a glut of truck driver glory.
"High Ballin'" (1978)
Jerry Reed plays an independent trucker trying to stand up to the local trucker union boss. Peter Fonda plays his best friend that comes to visit and ends up helping out. The movie plays out like a western, with plenty of action, a sprinkle of comedy and enough fast-talking CB jive to keep any truck driving film fan happy for the duration. The scenery is a little bleak, but so is Canada in winter.
"Over the Top" (1987)
Although critics have panned "Over the Top" time and time again, fans of Sly Stallone have kept this film alive for decades. Sylvester Stallone plays a long-haul truck driver trying to reunite with his son. Robert Loggia plays his father-in-law, a rich businessman trying to keep his grandson in seclusion. In order to better himself, Stallone sells his truck for a measly $7,000 and enters an arm wrestling tournament. While it certainly isn't the greatest drama ever made, it gets enough love that it is still regularly seen on cable.
"Big Trouble in Little China" (1986)
On the commentary for the film, director John Carpenter explains that this film is a story about a sidekick that thinks he's a leading man. The result is a film that helped make Kurt Russell a star. The story follows a truck driver (Russell) that helps a friend out with a lift to the airport, which results in a supernatural battle between good and evil for the life of a green-eyed beauty. Now a cult classic, "Big Trouble in Little China" is full of stereotypes and tropes but remains one of the best loved 80s movies.
"Smokey and the Bandit" (1977)
Hands down the greatest truck driver movie ever, "Smokey and the Bandit" is a classic of American cinema. The film follows a truck driver (Jerry Reed) and his partner (Burt Reynolds) as they try and deliver a trailer of Coors beer from Texarkana to Georgia. Jackie Gleason plays the bumbling sheriff, or "Smokey," that tries to catch them along the way. Sally Field comes along for the ride in Reynolds' iconic black Trans Am as a runaway bride and the reason the sheriff catches on to the vigilante pair in the first place. A must-see for any fan of chase scenes or 70s comedy.