Saturday, July 10, 2021

Movie Reviews: Truck Turner

Truck Turner
directed by Jonathan Kaplan
If you happen to be in the mood to watch late Stax songwriter/musician/singer/producer/pianist and actor Isaac Hayes flex his muscles and beat up or shoot approximately half of the Los Angeles underworld then this is probably the movie for you. 
The film script was originally written by a Caucasian woman who did not have the Black underworld in mind when she created it. 
When the film company couldn't get the financing it wanted for a white actor in the title role, the film was reimagined as "blaxploitation". Hayes got the nod. By the standards of early seventies drive-in movies, this movie is not actually that bad. It's even humorous in some weird ways. 
Whereas Hayes is playing the expected heroic role of bounty hunter Mack "Truck" Turner who is always armed with a bass voice and a real big gun, the film throws the viewer a curveball by casting actress Nichelle Nichols, then best known as the classy well spoken Lieutenant Uhura on Star Trek, as a lewd, foul mouthed and very dangerous madam.
Turner is a bounty hunter who along with his friend Jerry (Alan Weeks), in self-defense kills a pimp who has skipped bond. 
Now that was just another Tuesday for Turner and Jerry but the pimp's top assistant Dorinda (Nichols) is rather peeved by her boss's/lover's demise. 
Extremely peeved. Dorinda is so upset that she takes out a contract on Turner's and Jerry's lives. Dorinda promises to bring her ladies to work for whoever can fulfill the contract.
So every wannabee with a pistol and a death wish starts gunning for Turner. Most of them are incompetents whose only role is to miss badly and grunt dramatically when they get shot in the gut by Turner. 
One man who thinks he can take Turner is Harvard Blue (Yaphet Kotto). As you might expect from his name, Blue sees himself as a crimelord above the average run of the mill yokel. Turner must protect his bohemian girlfriend Annie (Annazette Chase).
There's a fair amount of bloody violence, cleavage, toplessness, bad language, and gender attitudes that would not pass muster today. The production values are not super high but are not far out of line with then current action movies. 
I was familiar with this film primarily through the Hayes written soundtrack, which to be honest, is far better than the movie itself. Still, if you are ever curious about what people found entertaining in the early seventies you might check this movie out. 
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