NOTE: This is a BONUS BMT this week in preparation for Cannonball Run II. To read up on the continued adventures of the Bad Movie Twins see the Cannonball Run II preview.
The Cannonball Run (1981) – BMeTric: 24.4
(It is kind of amazing that there was only five thousand votes for a 1981 smash hit film in 2004 or whatever. Very consistent BMeTric, so basically it is rising just one might expect for a crap film slowly gaining votes over time.)
Leonard Maltin – BOMB – Just what civilization needs – more Reynolds car-chase silliness, inspired by the same cross-country road race depicted in The Gumball Rally and Cannonball. Pretty unendurable, despite unusual cast; rumor has it that the one responsible for casting Dino and Sammy as priests is still doing his Hail Marys. Followed by a sequel.
(Hell yeah this was followed by a sequel. I’m quite shocked this is supposed to be so bad. I had it pegged as a not-funny but very successful minor comedy of the 80s more famous for spawning an infamous sequel than anything else. And it seems that actually both are reviled for mostly the same reasons.)
(Oh shit they put the fox cartoon at the front of the trailer! Jeez lousie! Farrah Fawcett is looking … a little cold in the early part of that trailer. Terrible trailer, primarily because it muddles the entire plot of the film in my opinion. You obviously can’t fly … like, any transcontinental flight would have crushed those goobers. Just nonsense. Crazy cast, and I’m actually rather surprised that Jackie Chan gets a shout out in the trailer (although this is likely a home video trailer, not theatrical, so it could have been after he was already famous))
Directors – Hal Needham – (Known For: Smokey and the Bandit; Hooper; Future BMT: Smokey and the Bandit Ride Again; Megaforce; Stroker Ace; Cactus Jack; BMT: Cannonball Run II; The Cannonball Run; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Director in 1983 for Megaforce; in 1984 for Stroker Ace; and in 1985 for Cannonball Run II; and Nominee for Worst Screenplay for Cannonball Run II in 1985; Notes: Was primarily a stuntman and is well known for training a new generation of stuntmen and pushing for recognition for their work in film. There is a sad tale to the film though.)
Writers – Brock Yates (written by) – (Future BMT: Smokey and the Bandit Ride Again; BMT: Cannonball Run II; The Cannonball Run; Notes: The creator of the actual Cannon Ball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash. The ambulance in the film was the actual car he drove in the first race.)
Actors – Burt Reynolds – (Known For: Boogie Nights; Deliverance; Smokey and the Bandit; Bean; Dog Years; The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas; All Dogs Go to Heaven; The Player; The Mean Machine; Hooper; Sharky’s Machine; Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex * But Were Afraid to Ask; White Lightning; Silent Movie; The End; Semi-Tough; Citizen Ruth; Hustle; Best Friends; Switching Channels; Future BMT: The Dukes of Hazzard; Smokey and the Bandit Part 3; Cop & ½; Smokey and the Bandit Ride Again; Delgo; Without a Paddle; City Heat; Stroker Ace; Hotel; Deal; Meet Wally Sparks; The Crew; Rent-a-Cop; The Man Who Loved Women; The Longest Yard; Gator; Physical Evidence; Malone; At Long Last Love; Heat; Stick; Mystery, Alaska; BMT: In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale; Striptease; Driven; Cannonball Run II; The Cannonball Run; Trigger Happy; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Actor for Cop & ½ in 1994; Winner for Worst Screen Couple for Striptease in 1997; Nominee for Worst Actor in 1985 for Cannonball Run II, and City Heat; and in 1989 for Rent-a-Cop, and Switching Channels; Nominee for Worst Supporting Actor in 1997 for Striptease; in 2002 for Driven; in 2006 for The Dukes of Hazzard, and The Longest Yard; and in 2009 for Deal, and In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale; and Nominee for Worst Screen Couple for Driven in 2002; Notes: Y’all know Burt Reynolds. Rolling Stone recently called him the last Good Ol’ Boy Movie Star.)
Roger Moore – (Known For: Live and Let Die; Moonraker; For Your Eyes Only; The Spy Who Loved Me; Octopussy; The Man with the Golden Gun; The Wild Geese; The Last Time I Saw Paris; Shout at the Devil; Future BMT: Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore; Boat Trip; Curse of the Pink Panther; The Quest; The Saint; A View to a Kill; North Sea Hijack; BMT: Spice World; The Cannonball Run; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Supporting Actor for Spice World in 1999; Notes: James Bond times seven. A possibly-BMT film The Spy Who Dumped Me comes out this week, an obvious reference to one of his classic works listed above. Interesting that only one of his seven films qualifies … some of them are truly dire.)
Farrah Fawcett – (Known For: Logan’s Run; Dr. T & the Women; The Apostle; Extremities; See You in the Morning; Future BMT: Man of the House; Saturn 3; The Cookout; Myra Breckinridge; BMT: The Cannonball Run; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Actress for Saturn 3 in 1981; and Nominee for Worst Supporting Actress for The Cannonball Run in 1982; Notes: Was married to Lee Majors and appears on television with him on numerous occasions in the 70s. Broke out as a star with Charlie’s Angels in the late 70s.)
Budget/Gross – $16–18 million / Domestic: $72,179,579
(Huge. Top ten film of the year and obviously made a ton. Amazing to be able to make a film with that many stars, that many stunts, and across the US for that little I feel like. What a steal.)
#14 for the Car Racing genre
(This genre all but died in the 90s although I can’t tell you why (tastes change perhaps, much like the slashed went into a slumber in the 90s?). It is now booming with the Fast and the Furious franchise, which coincidentally are the highest grossing BMT films we’ve see from this genre.)
Rotten Tomatoes – 29% (9/31): No consensus yet.
(The consensus is essentially: They made a terrible bad film, escapism in its purest form … which in a way I guess is fine given it made boatloads of cash. Reviewer Highlight: The Cannonball Run is an abdication of artistic responsibility at the lowest possible level of ambition. – Roger Ebert)
Poster – The No Rulez Race (B-)
(If you look ahead to the Cannonball Run II tagline and poster it’s a bit of a surprise that they did so much better with both those things the second time around. Perhaps they had a little less shame and just went for it when they got to the sequel. This all looks a little restrained, but still artistic.)
Tagline(s) – You’ll root for them all…but you’ll never guess who wins. (D)
(Blah. I actually straight up don’t like this one. Boring. Check out Cannonball Run II for one of the all-time classic taglines. This could not and does not match up.)
Keyword(s) – competition; Top Ten by BMeTric: 95.9 Meet the Spartans (2008); 83.5 Rollerball (2002); 81.9 You Got Served (2004); 77.6 The Starving Games (2013); 75.0 Daddy Day Camp (2007); 72.8 Driven (2001); 69.7 Recep Ivedik 4 (2014); 68.9 DOA: Dead or Alive (2006); 68.8 Herbie Fully Loaded (2005); 55.9 Snow Dogs (2002);
(I want to get served so badly. All of these are pretty great, we’ll sweep these up easily over the next few years I imagine.)
Notes – Jackie Chan makes one of his first U.S. film appearance. Inspired by Hal Needham’s notion of including bloopers during the closing credits, Chan began a tradition of doing the same in most of his movies, from this point onward.
The movie was originally planned as an action film starring Steve McQueen. After McQueen’s death, the lead went to Burt Reynolds, and the film became a comedy. (Oh … uh, that’s too bad, on both counts)
The ambulance used in the movie, is the actual ambulance that Hal Needham and Brock Yates souped up and raced in the real Cannonball Run. It had been modified with a HEMI engine, that made it go up to one hundred forty-five miles per hour (two hundred thirty-three kilometers per hour), and was equipped with four gas filler holes, so that the required ninety gallons (three hundred forty-one liters) could be pumped quickly. Needham and Yates didn’t win the race (the transmission blew in Palm Springs, California) so Needham kept it in storage for several years, until the time came to make this film. After the movie, he gave it to a church charity, which raised a good deal of money auctioning it off. (That is amazing)
Burt Reynolds became the highest paid actor in cinema history up to that point, for this movie, making five million dollars for four weeks work. (Good for him! Good for him!)
The producers asked the Governor of Georgia, if the crew could shut down the center of a small town, so that a plane could land in the middle of it. The police blocked off the section, in which the plane was to land, and a barrier can be seen in the background. (I mean … yeah you can, it is super amateurish)
To get material for this movie, Brock Yates ran the final Cannonball in 1979. The move cost him his editorial position at Car and Driver Magazine, which has since been reinstated. (Oh wow … that is crazy)
Legendary odds-maker Jimmy the Greek had a cameo in this movie, where he did a scene with Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr. Jimmy and Dean grew up in Steubenville, Ohio, and were friends since childhood.
The short sequence in the beginning of the film, which involved two animated cars wrecking the 20th Century Fox logo, was created by Hal Needham, who did a similar one for another studio when releasing Smokey and the Bandit (1977). At first, Fox didn’t appreciate the notion of wrecking their logo, but soon found it would be appealing to audiences if it were left in.
Hal Needham and Producer Albert S. Ruddy liked the chemistry of Terry Bradshaw and Mel Tillis so much, that after this film, they tried to sell a pilot to ABC featuring their characters. The head of the network loved the idea, but the day before the meeting was to be held to discuss it, the head of the network was fired, and the project was cancelled. (NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO)
Burt Reynolds said of the film, “I did that film for all the wrong reasons. I never liked it. I did it to help out a friend of mine, Hal Needham, and I also felt it was immoral to turn down that kind of money. I suppose I sold out, so I couldn’t really object to what people wrote about me.” (Good on you Burt. Good on you)
In one of the earlier scenes in the movie, J.J. McClure (Burt Reynolds) said “Could get a black Trans Am”, and then answers himself, “Naw, that’s been done.” This is a reference to Smokey and the Bandit (1977) and Smokey and the Bandit II (1980), which starred Reynolds, and were directed by Hal Needham, who directed this film. DeLuise co-starred with Reynolds in Smokey and the Bandit Ride Again (1980). (I hate this kind of stuff, but for such a light hearted comedy it makes sense)
Vehicles used in the film: J.J. and Victor are driving a 1978 Dodge Sportsman. Seymour is driving a 1964 Aston Martin DB5. Blake and Fenderbaum are driving a 1977 Ferrari 308 GTS. Terry and Mel are driving a 1976 Chevrolet Chevelle Laguna. Marcie and Jill are driving a 1980 Lamborghini Countach LP 400S. The Japanese team is driving a 1980 Subaru DL. The Sheik is driving a 1976 Rolls-Royce Shadow 1. Mad Dog and Batman are driving a 1980 GMC C-35 Pickup. Brad and Shakey are driving a Harley-Davidson Sportster. When Mr. Foyt shows up at the hotel, he’s driving a 1972 Volvo 142. At the opening, Victor is driving a 1973 Honda Civic. The plane that J.J. and Victor are flying is a Maule M 5-235 Lunar Rocket. During the first appearance of Captain Chaos, he and J.J. are driving a 1969 Porsche 911. (I love it)
The moustache worn by Burt Reynolds in this movie was subsequently auctioned for the charity, UNICEF. The auction was held in Geneva, Switzerland, and the winning bid was twenty-five thousand dollars. The identity of the winning bidder was kept secret for many years. In an interview in 2012, the guitarist of the British rock band Queen, Brian May, revealed the winning bidder was Freddie Mercury, lead singer of Queen. (So it was a fake mustache … or did they like … shave it off and put it on some tape or something)
NOTE: There was a note about this incident here, which I’ve replaced with a link to this article instead. (Super sad. Two years later the disaster on the set of Twilight Zone: The Movie would happen. And while still much safer, accidents like what happened on one of the recent Transformers films, still happen)
The names of the characters of Jill and Marcy are never mentioned in this film. In Cannonball Run II (1984), both actresses were replaced, and were called Jill and Marcy, which has been a matter of debate for many years, as to if Jill and Marcy from Cannonball Run II (1984) are even supposed to be the same characters from this movie, or if it’s just to give the original two characters a name for crediting on movie media sites. (They are the same characters. It would be ludicrous if that weren’t the case)
Awards – Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actress (Farrah Fawcett, 1982)