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)
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
THE DICK OF THE DAY
- 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.