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Returning from a stint in the Air Force, Carrol Jo Hummer borrows money to buy a truck, hoping to make enough money hauling produce to marry Jerri Kane and set up housekeeping. He discovers that the long-haul business is run by racketeers and decides to fight the corrupt forces that control the trucking business. Written by
In the scene where Jeri and Carroll argue in the pickup, and Jeri gets out of the truck and walks down the sidewalk while Carroll pleads with her to get back inside, the shadow of the boom mic from the camera car in front of the pickup can be seen at the bottom left of the screen. See more »
Jan-Michael Vincent, at the peak of his charisma and movie stardom,
registers strongly as good, honest young man Carrol Jo Hummer, fresh
from a stint in the Air Force. He gets a loan, which he uses to pay for
his own diesel truck, which he dubs The Blue Mule. Initially thinking
of working for family friend Duane Haller (Slim Pickens), he ultimately
decides to fight corruption in the transport business, making enemies
out of slimy people like Buck Wessle (L.Q. Jones) and Cutler (Don
Porter). Kay Lenz plays Jerri, the wife who stands by his side.
The prolific director Jonathan Kaplan, who at this time was firing off
one entertaining B picture after another, wrote the script with Ken
Friedman. Like so many other young directors during the 70s, he'd
gotten his start working for Roger Corman, and was able to hone his
craft. Here he creates an adequately paced, sometimes pretty serious
(but never overly melodramatic), gritty little movie. It gets a lot of
mileage out of its time honoured premise of one good man at war with a
Carrol Jo must do battle both on the road and off, and proves himself
capable of handling himself in a number of scraps, which are often
instigated by swaggering bully Clem (Martin Kove). The action in "White
Line Fever" is well executed, and the photography, by Fred J.
Koenekamp, is simply gorgeous. One sequence with Carrol Jo on the road
as he makes his way to snowy Utah is breathtaking. This is overall very
slickly made and engagingly written and performed.
A bright-eyed and earnest Vincent is extremely well supported by the
lovable Lenz, ever amiable Pickens, and an effectively sleazy Jones.
The cast features other familiar faces such as the ever reliable Dick
Miller, and R.G. Armstrong as a prosecuting attorney. Sam Laws, Leigh
French, and Kaplan regular Johnny Ray McGhee also appear.
Cinematographer Jamie Anderson ("Piranha" '78) has a rare acting role
here as Jamie, and Ann Dusenberry of "Jaws 2" is seen briefly as a
David Nichtern does the flavourful score for this solid entry into the
trucker cinema genre of the '70s. The ending is more low key than the
viewer might expect, and may not be totally satisfying to some people.
Seven out of 10.
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