Big rigs and their drivers have been the “stars” of movies and various television programs since at least the 1940s. However, we still think the trucking industry deserves a bit more attention. But we are biased. Below is our top 10 list of movies about truck drivers that we think many trucking geeks out there would appreciate. All you need to do is kick back and enjoy a great story.
They drive by night (1940)
IMDB Rating: 7.3/10
Starring: George Raft, Humphrey Bogart, Ann Sheridan
This terrific Film-noir tells the story of two truck-driving brothers, Paul and Joe Fabrini, who got caught up in a murder. Bogart and Raft star as wildcat truck drivers who work hard for their trucking business in California while struggling with their rivals and distributors.
Ed J. Carlsen: Early to rise and early to bed, makes a man healthy, but socially dead!
The wages of fear (La Salaire de la Peur) (1953)
IMDB Rating: 8.3/10
Starring: Yves Montand, Charles Vanel, Peter van Eyck
The plot of this French movie revolves around 4 desperate men in a South American village driving two trucks filled with gallons of nitroglycerine on a jungle terrain. Without even the necessary equipment that would make their transportation safe, one small single jolt can result in a fatal death for all of them.
William Friedkin remade this movie in 1977 starring Roy Scheider, Bruno Cremer, and Francisco Rabal. The new version titled Sorcerer has a lower rating on IMDB (7.7/10) compared to the original but both movies are worth watching. You should definitely check them out!
Dick: When I was a kid, I used to see men go off on this kind of jobs… and not come back. When they did, they were wrecks. Their hair had turned white and their hands were shaking like palsy! You don’t know what fear is. But you’ll see. It’s catching, it’s catching like smallpox! And once you get it, it’s for life! So long, boys, and good luck.
IMDB Rating: 7.7/10
Starring: Dennis Weaver, Jacqueline Scott, Eddie Firestone
Duel is Steven Spielberg’s first full-length film. Spielberg was only 23 years old when he directed this well-known classic. The thriller features a psychopathic trucker who duels on a deserted highway against a motorist. Their chase to death will make your jaw drop … several times throughout the movie.
David Mann: That truck driver’s crazy, he’s been trying to kill me, I mean it!
Bus Driver: Well, mister, if I was to vote on who’s crazy around here, it’d be you.
White line fever (1975)
IMDB Rating: 6.3/10
Starring: Jan-Michael Vincent, Kay Lenz, Slim Pickens
As you may already know, the mid-’70s were the years of trucking cinematography. This cult classic by Jonathan Kaplan tells the story of an independent trucker who borrows money to buy a truck hoping to make enough money and make a living. Later when he finds out that the industry is run by organized crime, he fights for independent truckers’ justice.
Carrol Jo Hummer: My name is Carrol Jo Hummer. I come to get work.
Smokey and the bandit (1977)
IMDB Rating: 6.8/10
Starring: Burt Reynolds, Sally Field, Jerry Reed
Reynolds and Field star in the second biggest hit of 1977. The comedy features two rich guys who hire a legendary smuggler (bandit) to run a tractor-trailer with 400 cases of beer from Texas to Georgia in record time. The bandit is later chased by the authorities, a hilarious chase that goes on for ages.
Bandit: For the good old American life: For the money, for the glory, and for the fun… mostly for the money.
IMDB Rating: 6.3/10
Starring: Kris Kristofferson, Ali MacGraw, Ernest Borgnine
Convoy, based on the 1975 truck music hit of the same name, tells the story of a few hard-living truckers who rebel against the new law by the National Maximum Speed, which limits all highway traffic to 55 mph. The trucker’s gang tries to fight the law after being harassed by a highway cop.
Rubber Duck: Here’s the plan: When we get to the pass, we’re gonna put on our fish costumes, pass out the Vaseline® an’ an extra ration o’ rum for the men. That should do it.
Mad max 2: The road warrior (1981)
IMDB Rating: 7.6/10
Starring: Mel Gibson, Bruce Spence, Michael Preston
Mel Gibson plays the post-apocalyptic hero, Mad Max, in the second film of the franchise. After the loss of his family, Max has to drive an oil truck through a band of bandits scavenging for food and gas in order to save a small gasoline-rich community.
If you are a big Mel Gibson fan you must have already seen this movie. If not, then, you aren’t a real fan of his. And if you don’t even know who Mel Gibson is, I don’t know what to tell you. You probably haven’t watched a lot of movies in your lifetime, so take my advice, and watch this movie whenever you can.
Pappagallo: Do you think you’re the only one that’s suffered? We’ve all been through it in here. But we haven’t given up. We’re still human beings, with dignity. But you? You’re out there with the garbage. You’re NOTHING.
IMDB Rating: 6.9/10
Starring: Kurt Russell, J. T. Walsh, Kathleen Quinlan
Breakdown is my personal favorite. It is about a man in search of his missing wife after his car breaks down in the middle of the desert and a ‘friendly’ trucker offers to give his wife a lift. I don’t want to spoil the movie, so this is all I am going to say. Go ahead and watch it if you haven’t yet.
Amy: [reading a doughnut package] If you win this mail-in contest, you can choose between 90,000 dollars or 90,000 donuts. What would you do with 90,000 donuts?
Black Dog (1998)
IMDB Rating: 5.2/10
Starring: Patrick Swayze, Randy Travis, Meat Loaf
The well-known Patrick Swayze stars as an ex-con who drives a truck cross country. The cargo in his truck is filled with illegal weapons, but he doesn’t know that. After he discovers the truth, he has to fight in order to survive and save his family. You will either love or hate this movie. There is no in-between. So watch it and decide for yourself.
Sonny: Well what if something jumps out into the road and you need to stop?
Jack Crews: You don’t.
[Rig runs over something]
Sonny: What was that?
Jack Crews: A Mazda.
Joy ride (2001)
IMDB Rating: 6.6/10
Starring: Paul Walker, Matthew Kimbrough, Leelee Sobieski, Steve Zahn
After talking to a trucker on their CB radio, three young people traveling from Colorado to New Jersey must escape when they discover the trucker they are talking to is a psychotic killer.
Joy Ride 2 was released in 2008, followed by Joy ride 3 in 2014
Ice Truck Driver: Do you guys need help back to the main road?
Fuller Thomas: No, we’re okay, now that we’re not murdered or anything.
On the one side, I hope that you have watched all of these movies about truck drivers because they are well-known classics. But on the other side, I hope that you haven’t seen most of them because now you have some good movies to add to your list. If you have any movies in mind that are about truck drivers, let us know in the comments. I am sure there are a few more that deserve to be widely seen.