Truck Turner

Created by Jerry Wilkes
Pseudonym of Leigh Chapman

“Just follow the bouncing ball, nigger.”
—Truck explains the plot

“Anybody thinkin’ about leavin’ here is gonna find my left foot square up their ass, do you understand it?! Those two bitches that left, they better learn to sell pussy in Iceland because if I ever see them again, I’m gonna cut their fuckin’ throats!”
— Dorinda gives a pep talk for her girls

The 1973 blaxploitation flick Truck Turner doesn’t bother going from the sublime to the ridiculous—it just stays firmly lodged in sublime ridiculousness throughout its entire 91 minute run.

A cash-in quickie inspired by the success of Shaft and Isaac Hayes’ attention-getting appearance accepting an Oscar for its soundtrack, this soul-fried turkey is great fun in a turn-your-brain-off way. Crazy violent, crude and rude and stuffed to the gills with gunfire and gallons of day-glo red blood, what plot there is is obviously subservient to the tropes of the genre: the fashions, the funk and the fury.

Los Angeles bounty hunter and skip tracer TRUCK TURNER (Hayes, of course) and his bailbondsman buddy Nate Dinwiddie, are on the trail of Gator, a nasty piece-of-work pimp who’s jumped bail, but in trying to corner him, Gator is killed. Gator’s none-too-stable lover, Dorinda (Star Trek’s Nichelle Nichols), immediately blames  Turner.

So she also puts out a contract on him. “I want that bastard Truck Turner and I want him dead!,” the foul-mouthed madam proclaims. “The man who kills him, gets my broads and I’ll run the stable.”

Realizing the lucrative potential of such a deal, ambitious crime boss Harvard Blue (Yaphet Kotto) assembles a team of professional killers to go after Turner. Kotto, with his outlandish sense of style (Oh, those checkered pants!), menacing charisma and even further-out scenery chewing, almost steals the spotlight.

But the bald and bearded Truck, a man who wears his long-barreled .44 Magnum to bed, is hard to ignore. He also proves to be surprisingly hard to kill, and the bodies soon start piling up, all to a percolating soundtrack supplied—of course–by Hayes.

This is no lost classic—gleefully over the top and with little concern over who it might offend, it makes Shaft look like Lawrence of Arabia. But if you like blaxploitation, you’ll dig this.


Turns out the script—in at least some form—had been bouncing around the American International offices for years. Originally intended for Robert Mitchum, and then James Coburn, they eventually decided to jump onto the blaxploitation train, and cast Dick Anthony Williams in the title role, before deciding Isaac Hayes, wallowing in all his post-Shaft glory, would be a bigger draw.


  • “Easily one of the most violent and politically incorrect movies ever made, it is also one of the best of the blaxploitation genre.”
    — Cool Ass Cinema (October 2009)


  • TRUCK TURNER Buy the DVD | Buy the Blu-Ray | Watch it now!
    (1974, American International)
    91 minutes
    Story by 
    Leigh Chapman (as Jerry Wilkes)
    Screenplay by Oscar Williams and Michael Allin
    Directed by Jonathan Kaplan
    Original soundtrack by Isaac Hayes
    Starring Isaac Hayes as TRUCK TURNER
    Yaphet Kotto  as Blue
    and Nichelle Nichols as Dorinda
    Also starring Alan Weeks, Annazette Chase, Sam Laws, Paul Harris, Charles Cyphers, John Kramer, Scatman Crothers, Dick Miller


  • July 3, 2023
    The Bottom Line: Isaac Hayes plays a badass mofo of a LA bounty hunter in this primo slice of blaxploitation from 1974, just trying to keep alive. He also supplies the soundtrack. Can you dig it?
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

One thought on “Truck Turner

  1. Thank you Kevin for this fine review.
    I always enjoy your stuff, no doubt others as well appreciate all the effort you
    put into it.

    “Truck Turner” seems to have fallen between the cracks, when I mention it to fans of
    the genre they just stare.

    The movie introduces us to a hung over Truck waking up and going over to the
    dresser to get his last shirt, which his even seedier cat is sleeping on.
    Truck discovers the cat has not only shed but peed on it as well.

    Cue the next scene, Truck and his partner Jerry are driving in a convertible when
    an appalled Jerry sniffs and comments to an indifferent Truck that he reeks!
    Truck is so bad, so defiant of the social conventions, that he wears a stained, smelly
    fur covered shirt soaked in cat urine.

    How many Hollywood tough guy characters have ever been introduced in such a
    tongue in cheek way, while also giving the finger to classic cinematic tropes?
    Dirty Harry, Sam Spade, Mike Hammer, even suburban rebel Eddie Haskell would never
    dare to wear a shirt soiled by even the smallest piddle from an incontinent robin who had
    misplaced it’s adult diaper.

    But Truck Turner is a different breed for a new era.
    Columbo wears a rumpled raincoat?
    Truck and his feline sidekick are not impressed, they have one upped him.
    I have often wondered if the soiled shirt was a subtle shot at Columbo’s raincoat.
    If so that deseves a tip of the hat.

    Hayes recycled his Truck Turner character note for note as Gandalf Finch on
    3 episodes of The Rockford Files.

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