Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: Truck Turner (1974)

Poster for Truck Turner (1974)Truck Turner (1974) by #JonathanKaplan

w/ #IsaacHayes #YaphetKotto #AlanWeeks #AnnazetteChase #NichelleNichols #ScatmanCrothers

“Skip tracer – but not the fuzz; he’s tougher”

“If you jump bail, you’re his meat.

Music by Isaac Hayes

#Action #Blaxploitation

Truck Turner (1974), like last week’s Trouble Man (1972), is another movie that I did not see until AFTER I knew the soundtrack music. My first encounter with Truck Turner was via a two part CD compilation called MGM Soul Cinema (Volumes 1 and 2).

MGM SOul Cinema CD featuring Truck Turner (1974) vol 1MGM SOul Cinema CD featuring Truck Turner (1974) vol 2

Volume 2 featured the Main Title from Truck Turner and I loved it. it was like the theme from Shaft (1971), but more intense. No surprise, I suppose, because both soundtracks were written and performed by Isaac Hayes. Volume 1 of MGM Soul Cinema featured another song from Truck Turner called Give It To Me, which was also a highlight. 

Truth be told, the entire compilation is pretty top notch, but still…

A couple of years later I actually found the complete soundtrack to Truck Turner on CD and I bought it. I played the hell out of that thing, but still I hadn’t seen the movie. 

Finally, I tracked down a copy on DVD and bought it. And even though I had probably built the thing up in my head over the years that I’d been listening to the soundtrack, I still loved the movie the first time I watched it.

Isaac Hayes plays the titular character, and he is great in this. There’s a really solid cast all around. Yaphet Kotto, whom I’ve admired since I first saw him in Alien (1979) when I was 10 or 11, is fabulous as one of the main bad guys. But I suppose the real highlight for a lot of people is Nichelle Nichols, of Star Trek fame, playing a foul-mouthed madam (and another one of the principal baddies). She is spectacular in this movie, and is probably the most unlike her iconic image as she ever was in any of her roles. Fans of Star Trek should proceed with caution so as not to have a heart attack…

Truck Turner is about a former football player who becomes a bounty hunter. He unwittingly gets himself into a situation where a lot of people want him dead. But his old football moniker still applies; he’s Mack Truck Turner, and if you get in his way, you just might get crushed.

As the song says:

There’s some dudes in a bar,
With busted heads and broken jaws,
What hit ’em?
Truck Turner!

And yes that IS a scene in the movie. I was not disappointed to confirm that the first time I watched it. And I was thrilled to re-visit it again last week.

Truck Turner (1974) is a somewhat lesser known entry in the blaxploitation genre. It may not be iconic like Shaft or Superfly (1972). It may not be highly rated like Across 110th Street (1972).  But it’s a masterpiece of #NotQuiteClassicCinema and a personal favourite of mine. I’ve watched it three or four times over the years, and listened to the soundtrack countless times. There is no doubt in my mind that it can make any night feel like a #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn.