Burt Reynolds as Smokie Bear
in the Cannonball RunMovie Poster, cast and speed
US limit 55 mph
The Cannonball Run is a 1981 comedy film starring Burt Reynolds, Roger Moore, Dom DeLuise, Farrah Fawcett, and an all-star supporting cast. It was directed by Hal Needham, produced by Hong Kong's Golden Harvest films and was 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.
origins of the Cannonball Run aren't entirely clear, but the death defying
and hugely illegal race from New York City to Los Angeles is named after
Edwin 'Cannonball' Baker.
Baker made history in 1933 when, apparently just to say he did it, he raced
from coast to coast in 53 hours 30 minutes in a car called the Blue Streak.
Fast forward to the 1970s, when cars could go far faster than Baker's Graham
Paige, and Car and Driver editor Brock Yates created the Cannonball Baker
Sea-To-Shining Sea Memorial Trophy Dash.
For years, daring drivers vied for the title of what became known as the
Cannonball Run. The run was last completed by Dave Heinz and Dave Yarborough
in 32 hours 51 minutes behind the wheel of a Jaguar.
Their record was next bested in the US Express race, which replaced the
illicit Cannonball Run, by Doug Turner and David Diem. Their time of 32
hours and 7 minutes wasn't beaten until Alex Roy did it in 31 hours 4
minutes in a BMW in 2006.
Race teams have gathered in Connecticut to start a cross-country car race. One at a time, teams drive up to the starters' stand, punch a time card to indicate their time of departure, then take off.
Among the teams are:
JJ McClure (Reynolds) and Victor Prinzim (DeLuise) drive a souped-up, but otherwise authentic, Dodge Tradesman ambulance. (Hal Needham and Brock Yates used the same vehicle in the actual 1979 race.)
Former open-wheel icon (and Scotch-swilling) Jamie Blake (Dean Martin) and his (gambling-obsessed) teammate Morris Fenderbaum (Sammy Davis, Jr.), dressed as Catholic priests, drive a red Ferrari 308
GTS. (They are based on an entry in the real 1972 race, in which three men disguised as priests ("The Flying Fathers") drove a Mercedes 280 SEL sedan, which they claimed to be "the Monsignor's car" belonging to an ecumenical council of prelates in California.)
Jill Rivers (Tara Buckman) and Marcie Thatcher (Adrienne Barbeau), two attractive women who use their looks to their advantage, start the race in a black Lamborghini
Jackie Chan and Michael Hui race in a high-tech, computer-laden Subaru GL hatchback with a rocket booster engine.
A pair of good ol' boys, played by Terry Bradshaw and Mel Tillis, drive a street-legal replica of Donnie Allison's Hawaiian Tropic-sponsored NASCAR Winston Cup Chevrolet stock car owned by Hoss Ellington. (It starts off as '75-76 Laguna. After they paint it, it becomes a '76-77 Monte Carlo.)
Roger Moore plays "heir to the Goldfarb Girdles fortune", Seymour Goldfarb, Jr., who perpetually identifies himself as actor Roger Moore and signs into the race under that name. His character behaves similarly to James Bond and only once (by his mother) is called by his real name. He drives a silver Aston Martin DB5.
Jamie Farr portrays an oil-rich Middle-Eastern sheikh, driving a white Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow.
At the starting line, observing from the shadows, is Mr. Arthur J. Foyt (a play on the name of racer A. J. Foyt), a representative of the "Safety Enforcement Unit", who tries to stop the race because of its environmental effects and safety issues. In the car with him is a photographer and tree lover, Pamela Glover.
Beyond the starting line, JJ and Victor (driving their ambulance) come across Foyt and Glover, who have been involved in a minor fender-bender. Glover implores JJ and Victor to help, but when they tell Foyt to enter the ambulance through the back door, they kidnap Glover and take off without Foyt.
As the race progresses, Victor occasionally turns into his alter ego, superhero "Captain Chaos". The very spooky Dr. Van Helsing (Jack Elam) and his huge hypodermic needle are also in the ambulance to "help" keep Glover quiet during the race.
Various teams are shown either evading law enforcement, most of which deal with talking their way out of a possible ticket, or concocting crazy schemes to outmaneuver their opponents.
Jill and Marcie use sex appeal as their weapon, unzipping their race suits to display copious amounts of cleavage during traffic stops. (However, this fails to work on a busty female traffic officer played in a cameo appearance by actress Valerie Perrine.)
In New Jersey, the ambulance is pulled over by state troopers; Dr. Van Helsing drugs Glover, and JJ and Victor are able to convince the troopers that they're rushing "the Senator's wife" to UCLA for medical treatment (offering the theory that her condition prevents them from flying, or from even driving through Denver).
The Mitsubishi team is able to turn off their car's headlights and use infrared sensors for racing at night.
Seymour Goldfarb is frequently shown evading police by using various James Bond-type gadgets, such as oil slicks, smoke screens, switchable number plates installed in his Aston Martin DB5.
Mr. Compton (Bert Convy) and "Super Chief" Finch (Warren Berlinger) disguise themselves as a newlywed couple on a motorcycle, but Finch's extra weight forces the two to ride cross-country in a continuous wheelie.
The primary rivalry is between the ambulance and the Ferrari. In Ohio, Fenderbaum and Blake are able to convince Victor to pull over the ambulance in order to bless the patient on board. While Blake carries out the blessing, Fenderbaum punctures one of the ambulance's rear tires with a knife. JJ gets his revenge in Missouri by convincing a nearby police officer that the two men dressed as priests are actually sex perverts who are responsible for the flashing victim in the ambulance.
The leading teams find themselves stopped on a desert highway, waiting for construction workers to clear the road. A biker gang (led by Peter Fonda) shows up and begins harassing Compton and Finch. It quickly gets out of hand and a free-for-all fistfight ensues. "Captain Chaos" emerges again to fight the bikers. Naturally, the Mitsubishi team also joins in (Jackie Chan puts his martial arts skills to work) and fists and kicks fly. The construction crew announces that the road is open, so teams sprint back to their cars for the race to the finish.
The ambulance falls behind the pack until Victor once again becomes Captain Chaos. The vehicles all arrive at the final destination at the same time, so it's a foot race to the finish line. JJ hands his team's time card to Victor, then ambushes the remaining racers, leaving only Victor and one of the
Lamborghini women, Marcie.
Just when it appears Victor will reach the time clock first, a spectator shouts that her "baby" has fallen into the water. Victor, still in his Captain Chaos persona, rushes to save the
baby (later revealed to be her
dog). allowing Marcie to
clock in first and win the race.
JJ is furious and never wants to see Captain Chaos again, but Victor replies that he doesn't care, because he really wants to be Captain USA. Foyt reappears and blames everyone for ruining the American highway. Seymour offers a cigar and tells Foyt to use the lighter in his car, which activates an ejection seat when pushed. Nothing happens at first, but when Seymour presses the button, he goes flying into the water.
The Cannonball Run was a huge commercial success, The Cannonball Run' earned $72,179,579, making it the sixth highest grossing film of 1981, behind
Raiders of the Lost Ark, On Golden Pond, Superman II, Arthur, and Stripes.
Reviews were generally negative. Roger Ebert gave the film a half-star out of four, calling it "an abdication of artistic responsibility at the lowest possible level of ambition. In other words, they didn't even care enough to make a good lousy movie". Variety described the film as "full of terribly inside showbiz jokes and populated by what could be called Burt and Hal's Rat Pack, film takes place in that redneck never-never land where most of the guys are beer-guzzling good ole boys and all the gals are fabulously built tootsies." Vincent Canby of The New York Times wrote on his review that the film is "inoffensive and sometimes funny. Because there are only a limited number of variations that can be worked out on this same old highway race, don't bother to see it unless you're already hooked on the
genre." review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes retrospectively collected 29 reviews to give the film a score of 31%.
The film was nominated for a Razzie Awards for Worst Supporting Actress for Fawcett.
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Cannonball International EV series of road runs is open to all comers
provided they hold a valid driving licence and stay within the speed limits.
This is an event for people who care about conserving our planet. Cars must
be based on production running gear, though modification of drive and battery
or fuel cell
storage is allowed.
Make politicians around the world take notice of by attempting to equal the
speeds and endurance of petrol
and diesel powered