Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Big Bus (1976)


You may think looking at The Big Bus that it was made to cash in on the success of Airplane had it not been made 4 years before the Zucker Brothers spoof classic, you may also think that Airplane was made to cash in on the huge success that The Big Bus had at the box office in the mid 70's, may have been the case only The Big Bus was a critical and commercial failure. But watching the film that has over the years gathered a bit of a cult following you can certainly see similarities between the 2 films, The Big Bus is kind of a Zucker-lite movie. It's possible they did indeed see this film and thought they could do something funnier, if that was the case then they succeded. That's not to say The Big Bus isn't a funny film.

The Big Bus is about a 75 ton, 32 wheel, Nuclear Powered Bus that's driving from New York to Denver non stop, but to throw a spanner in the works a bomb has been planted on the bus in a bid to stop the journey. The bus named 'Cyclops' is equiped with a swimming pool, bowling alley, there's a Bar and dining room. Stockard Channing plays Kitty Baxter the designer of the bus and Joseph Bologna stars as Dan Torrence the buses driver. Torrance once a great driver is a bit washed up and brought in when the buses real driver is injured, he was accused of eating all the passengers on his last disastrous drive "Eat one lousy foot and they call you a Cannibal !". His co-driver is "Shoulders" O'Brien played by John Beck, "Shoulders" has bouts of narcolepsy and often falls asleep at the wheel.
The film also stars Rene Auberjonois (Deep Space Nine) Ned Beatty (Deliverance, Superman: The Movie) Larry Hagman (Dallas) Sally Kellerman (M*A*S*H) José Ferrer (Dune) Richard Mulligan (Soap)
I first seen this on VHS in the late 70's early 80's and always remember the bar fight and the classic line "Look out! He's got a broken milk carton!" and the line spoken by Ned Beatty as Scotty the buses mechanic "The aerodynamics work! He's breaking wind at 90 !" The film certainly has it's funny moments, in a scene that could be straight from a Zucker Brothers movie, the reporters are herded onto a bus, the bus drives across the tarmac to pick up Kitty the buses designer, then simply drives back across the tarmac a few yards to where it started and everybody gets back off.
The Big Bus is cheap to buy at £3.99 here at and not too long at 88 mins.

The above poster art was by MAD artist Jack Davis.


paulhd said...

I believe the other guy in the fight retaliates with a broken candle.
Saw this around about the same time and loved it, seen a few times since and still really like it. I don't suppose it's as funny as Airplane! but it has a goofiness I really like.

Andrew Glazebrook said...

Yeah ,there aren't enough broken milk carton and broken candle fights in movies these days, maybe the fight between Anakin and Obi-Wan in Revenge of the Sith may have been improved by it !

crookymike said...

I saw this years ago but didn't know what it was called and nobody who I told about it knew what the hell I was talking about.
Thank you Andrew, you've made my day.

Inchy said...

"Oh no, not Harbinger Curve?!"

Moonwatcher said...

Me and my girlfriend love this film, we love the bit in the bar fight where the woman in the red outfit starts laying into him. Also the truck that lands in the side off the bus in the bar area, the guy playing the keyboard in the bus is Murphy Dunne from the Blues Brothers. Great post Andrew.

Michael G Clark said...

Ace movie, the narcoleptic driver is my fave.

'Look out!' zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz