The Cannonball Run (1981)
April 8, 2016 5:38 AM - Subscribe

A wide variety of eccentric competitors participate in a wild and illegal cross-country road race. However, the eccentric entrants will do anything to win the road race, including low-down, dirty tricks.

The Cannonball Run is a 1981 Technicolor comedy film starring Burt Reynolds, Roger Moore, Dom DeLuise, Farrah Fawcett, and an all-star supporting cast filmed in Panavision. It was directed by Hal Needham, produced by Hong Kong's Golden Harvest films, and distributed by 20th Century Fox. One of 1981's most successful films at the box office, it was followed by Cannonball Run II (1984), and Speed Zone (1989). This and the 1984 sequel were the final film appearances of actor Dean Martin. (wikipedia)

• The film is based on the 1979 running of the Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash, an actual cross-country outlaw road race held four times in the 1970s, starting at the Red Ball Garage on 31st Street in New York City (later the Lock, Stock and Barrel Restaurant in Darien, Connecticut) and ending at the Portofino Inn in Redondo Beach, California, in Los Angeles. The race had previously inspired the (unrelated) 1976 films Cannonball and The Gumball Rally.

• The screenwriter was automotive journalist Brock Yates, who had conceived the real-life Cannonball Baker event. Yates had originally proposed the race as a writer for Car and Driver.

• In June 1980, 24-year-old stuntwoman Heidi Von Beltz was critically injured in a car crash during production of the film. Von Beltz was a world-class skier with no previous stunt driving experience. Von Beltz was a quadriplegic for the final 35 years of her life. Because of the accident, Cannonball Run and all Burt Reynolds movies that involved Hal Needham stunt driving, all stunt drivers names in the closing credits were removed. Hal Needham's 2011 book, Stuntman, did not mention Von Beltz or her accident. In a recent 2015 book by Burt Reynolds, But Enough About Me..., the Cannonball Run accident was not mentioned, either.

• Burt Reynolds received a then-record $5 million salary for his work on the film, which took three weeks.

• The ambulance used in the movie is the actual ambulance that Hal Needham and Brock Yates souped up and raced in the real Cannonball Run. It had been modified with a HEMI engine that made it go up to 145 mph and was equipped with four gas filler holes so that the required 90 gallons could be pumped quickly. Needham and Yates didn't actually win the race (the transmission blew in Palm Springs) so Needham kept it in storage for several years until the time came to make this film. After the movie, he gave it to a church charity which raised a good deal of money auctioning it off.

• Jackie Chan makes one of his first US film appearances. Inspired by Hal Needham's notion of including bloopers during the closing credits, Chan begins a tradition of doing the same in most of his movies from this point onward. Jackie Chan was very upset when he learned his character was Japanese since he himself is Chinese.

• Bert Convy's final feature film.

• A huge commercial success, The Cannonball Run earned $72,179,579,[4] making it the sixth highest grossing film of 1981, behind Raiders of the Lost Ark, On Golden Pond, Superman II, Arthur, and Stripes.

• Warner Bros has acquired the rights to the Cannonball Run franchise and set Etan Cohen to write and direct Cannonball. Andre Morgan and Alan Gasmer are producing.

30% on Rotten Tomatoes - 62% Audience Score

Original trailer on Youtube.

This movie is a selection of the Shut Up And Drive! club.
posted by valkane (13 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Shut Up And Drive! will be screening this feature tonight, April 8, @ 9:00 pm ET. Click here to watch.
posted by valkane at 5:40 AM on April 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

Warner Bros has acquired the rights to the Cannonball Run franchise and set Etan Cohen to write

Who really, really should not be confused with Ethan Cohen.

Good lord, before my morning caffeine...
posted by Naberius at 6:37 AM on April 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

Heh, I almost noted that in the post, Naberius, so no one would pull a Bill Murray and end up in Garfield or sumpin.
posted by valkane at 7:40 AM on April 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

Or Ethan Coen for that matter.....
posted by valkane at 7:41 AM on April 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

• Burt Reynolds received a then-record $5 million salary for his work on the film, which took three weeks.

Of all the things.... this boggles me.
posted by Mezentian at 7:52 AM on April 8, 2016

I've always liked Gumball Rally more, but Captain Chaos has a lot of lines you'll miss when you are a kid.
posted by Catblack at 8:09 AM on April 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Or Ethan Coen for that matter.....

oh... derp. Wow, I apparently need double caffeine today.

Anyway, movie. I do remember liking this despite myself. It's so not my style, or my subculture or what have you. I mean, Burt Reynolds if nothing else. But almost like Airplane, it just tries so hard and throws so much goofiness at the screen that you can't stay mad at it.

Nice bit of trivia that this was the movie that gave Jackie Chan the idea to run outtakes from his movies during the closing credits, because I love the way he did that.

(Of course I can still quote half of Airplane decades later, while I vaguely remember this being a lot of dumb fun.)
posted by Naberius at 8:10 AM on April 8, 2016

I remember this movie being on TV a lot when I was a kid. Like many things where nostalgia is involved, I'm not sure I should go back.
posted by nubs at 8:40 AM on April 8, 2016

Roger Moore playing Roger Moore was astounding.

I had no idea that Golden Harvest produced it... I wonder if that's where the Jackie Chan connection is from? Yeah, I remember his character being Japanese was a huge wtf.
posted by porpoise at 9:39 AM on April 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Ohhhhhh I'm excited to watch this tonight. I haven't seen it in the longest time.
posted by miss-lapin at 12:17 PM on April 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

I loved it back then, though I haven't seen it since the very early 1980s. My friends and I thought it and the sequel were about the best movies ever, beaten only by Red Dawn and the second Rambo movie.

Our tastes were clearly terrible, but those are all still fun movies.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:00 PM on April 8, 2016

The definition of infectious fun. All these people having fun playing with each other and getting paid to do it. Plus Jack Elam!
posted by entropicamericana at 5:41 AM on April 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Take that, 55 mph speed limit.
posted by nom de poop at 3:30 AM on April 11, 2016

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