What do American icons Steven Spielberg, Sylvester Stallone, Meat Loaf, Chuck Norris, Patrick Swayze, Jack Nicholson, Kurt Russell, Clint Eastwood, and Stephen King have in common? They all star in some of the best trucking movies of all time.
American truckers have been on the road for over a century, starting with the debut of Mack Trucks in 1907. In the 1970s, “trucker culture” emerged in America romanticizing drivers as modern-day cowboys, with trucker hats and CB radios gaining in popularity.
The trucking industry continues to thrive and the American Trucking Association (ATA) estimates that trucks move roughly 72.5% of the nation’s freight by weight. In 2020, the ATA reported 7.65 million employed in trucking-related jobs (excluding the self-employed).
At ITS Logistics, we know that truck drivers are the backbone of the nation’s supply chain and things would quickly crumble without them. Without a doubt, the ‘70s marked a golden age of movies about truckers and captured the allure of the open road. We wanted to honor some of that nostalgia, so we asked our drivers and fleet team to vote on the best trucking movies of all time and here’s what they had to say.
After a comet causes a radiation storm on Earth, machines come to life and turn against their makers. Holed up in a North Carolina truck stop, the Dixie Boy, a group of survivors must fend for themselves against a mass of homicidal trucks. A dinner cook, Bill Robinson (Emilio Estevez), emerges as the unlikely leader of the pack. He seeks an escape plan for himself and the survivors, which includes his boss, Bubba Hendershot (Pat Hingle), and a newlywed couple. Written by Stephen King, the author is a huge rock n’ roll fan. He convinced legendary band AC/DC to provide the soundtrack for the movie, including hits “Who Made Who” and “You Shook Me All Night Long”.
An ex-convict truck driver with a suspended license (played by Patrick Swayze) makes one last no-questions-asked trip. However, he discovers that his rig is stocked with assault weapons. Accepting a cash job to support his family, the panicked man realizes that failure to deliver puts his wife’s and child's lives in danger. Culminating in a high-speed chase involving a convoy of 18-wheelers, Randy Travis, Meat Loaf, and more stars alongside Swayze in this action-packed flick. Swayze went through real truck driving school before filming to earn his Class A CDL and personify the ultimate trucker.
ITS Team Quotes:
- “Nothing like a Caterpillar engine!” Joe O’Brien, ITS Driver
Tough guy trucker J.D. Dawes (Chuck Norris) drives his big rig to a desert town, diving into a criminal cesspool to rescue his kidnapped brother, Billy (Michael Augenstein). However, the perpetrators are not ordinary criminals. A wicked public servant, Judge Joshua Trimmings (George Murdock), runs the town and especially hates truckers. The judge and his minions do their best to break Dawes down. But Dawes retaliates with swift, severe vengeance.
ITS Team Quotes:
- “Time to shirk, and a time to work.” Peter Nuti, Driver Recruiting
- “Who doesn’t like a good Chuck Norris Movie?” Norm Clifford, ITS Driver
- “If you want to watch a movie with trucks blowing $%*&# up–buildings, cars, helicopters, and everything–this is the one.” Patrick McFarland, Sr. Director of Marketing
Directed by Danny Devito, this dramatized biography of the infamous American union boss Jimmy Hoffa (Jack Nicholson) follows four decades of his life. It chronicles his rise as head of the Teamsters Union to the scandal that led to his downfall. His subsequent disappearance was allegedly arranged by the Italian Mafia. Except for the initial exchange between Jimmy Hoffa and Robert Kennedy, which delays the proceedings, almost every word in the film between them is taken verbatim from the transcripts to the real-life hearing.
ITS Team Quotes:
- “Don’t mess with the Mafia.” Jackie Latragna, Marketing Manager
Kurt Russell plays hard-boiled truck driver Jack Burton, who gets caught in a bizarre conflict within, and underneath, San Francisco’s Chinatown. An ancient Chinese prince and Chinatown crime lord has kidnapped a beautiful green-eyed woman. The kidnapped woman is the fiancée to Jack’s best friend. Jack helps his friend rescue the girl from evil Lo Pan, who plans to use her to break an ancient curse rendering him fleshless but immortal. Originally written as an 1890s western about a cowboy in Chinatown who could shoot a kite out of the sky but couldn’t hit anyone in a real fight.
ITS Team Quotes:
- “Everybody relax, I’m here!” Bob Sprague, ITS Driver
- “Don’t drive faster than you can see.” Bob Sprague, ITS Driver
Jan-Michael Vincent stars as Carrol Jo Hummer, a Vietnam veteran returning to Tucson, Arizona, dreaming of becoming an independent trucker. After borrowing money to get his own truck, the Blue Mule, Carrol Jo discovers he must repay his debt by smuggling goods on runs. The film follows our hero and his wife as they’re threatened by thugs and must fight back against the corruption. For non-truckers, a fun fact about this trucking movie is that “white line fever” is trucker lingo. It describes the mental fog that truckers can sometimes experience after spending hundreds of miles on the road.
Starring Sylvester Stallone, Lincoln Hawk, a struggling trucker who arm wrestles to make some extra cash on the side while rebuilding his life. Hawk brings his estranged son with him on the road seeking to make amends for leaving him and his mother years earlier. The boy runs off with Hawk’s wealthy father-in-law and later appears at the world arm-wrestling competition in Las Vegas. Hawk competes for cash and a brand-new semi to jumpstart his own trucking business-and most of all, his son’s love. Stallone co-wrote the screenplay for this film and a good deal of the filming was also done in Las Vegas! Be sure to check out the epic soundtrack the next time you hit the road.
ITS Team Quotes:
- “This movie is so ’80s: Stallone, Kenny Loggins, Sammy Hagar, old school Vegas glitz and glam, cut off shirts, and the flip of the trucker hat.” Patrick McFarland, Sr. Director of Marketing
The fourth installment in the action-packed Mad Max franchise is titled Fury Road. Directed by George Miller, it stars Tom Hardy as Max Rockatansky and Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa. Set in a post-apocalyptic desert wasteland where gasoline and water are scarce commodities, Max joins forces with Furiosa. They join forces to escape cult leader Immortan Joe and his army in an epic desert road battle using an armored tanker truck. Miller first had the idea for Fury Road in 1987 shortly after the success of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. However, it sat in development hell for many years until it resurfaced again just prior to the September 11 attacks. Filming was delayed until early 2011. The film debuted in 2015, nearly 30 years after it was first thought of.
ITS Team Quotes:
- “I run from both the living and the dead.” Brandon Congdon, Terminal Manager
Starring Burt Reynolds, Sally Field, Jackie Gleason, Jerry Reed, Pat McCormick, Paul Williams, and Mike Henry, this iconic trucker movie follows the characters Bo “Bandit” Darville (Reynolds) and Cledus “Snowman” Snow (Reed). The duo accepts a challenge from Big and Little Enos to illegally transport 400 cases of Coors beer from Texarkana to Atlanta. The Bandit picks up a hitchhiking runaway bride, Carrie, who just left her groom Junior at the altar. The Bandit uses a Pontiac Trans Am to keep attention from Snowman’s truck, while Sheriff Buford T. Justice (Gleason) and Junior chase them. Smokey and the Bandit was the second highest-grossing domestic film of 1977 (with $126M against a budget of $4.3M), with only Star Wars grossing higher that year.
ITS Team Quotes:
- “This is a Complete lack of respect for the law.” Andrew Siefert, Safety Manager
- “How is this not number one? The Bandit was the best, this is the quintessential ’70s classic trucking movie.” Patrick McFarland, Sr. Director of Marketing
Trucker Martin “Rubber Duck” Penwald (Kris Kristofferson) and his buddies Pig Pen (Burt Young), Widow Woman (Madge Sinclair) and Spider Mike (Franklin Ajaye) get entrapped by the conniving Sheriff “Cottonmouth” Wallace (Ernest Borgnine). They band together to get Spider Mike to the border of New Mexico so he can get home to his pregnant wife. Facing law harassment, Rubber Duck and his pals use their CBs to coordinate a milelong convoy and rule the road. The film is based on the 1975 country and western hit “Convoy” by C.W. McCall, a top trucking song.
ITS Team Quotes:
- “They call you the Duck?” James Ybarra, ITS Driver
Choosing only ten awesome trucking movies was challenging, so we had to include a few more honorable mentions from the team.
A tough trucker with a cheeky pet orangutan, Philo Beddoe (Clint Eastwood) moonlights as a fighter, with his friend Orville Boggs (Geoffrey Lewis) setting up matches for him. Philo Beddoe, dating country singer Lynn Halsey-Taylor (Sondra Locke), sets off in search of her when she abruptly disappears. He takes along his simian companion and Orville for the journey.
David Mann (Dennis Weaver), a mild-mannered electronics salesman, is driving cross-country on a two-lane highway. He encounters an old oil tanker driven by an unseen psychotic driver who stalks him with dangerous antics on the road trying to kill him. Trapped by the demonic big rig, David finds himself in a hellish game of cat and mouse with the monstrous truck. When the pursuit escalates to deadly levels, David must summon his inner warrior and turn the tables on his tormentor. Believe it or not, this was Stephen Spielberg’s first feature film!
Humanity’s fate hangs in the balance as the Autobots and Decepticons, two robot races, wage their war on Eart. The robots can change into different mechanical objects as they seek the key to ultimate power. Only two humans, Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) and Mikaela Banes (Megan Fox) can save the world from destruction. Plus, you can’t go wrong with Optimus Prime–the greatest truck of all time.
It’s summer break, and college freshman Lewis Thomas (Paul Walker) has decided to embark on a cross-country road trip. His goal is to pick up the girl of his dreams, Venna (Leelee Sobieski). However, Lewis’ romantic hopes hit a detour when he stops on the way to rescue his older brother, Fuller (Steve Zahn). Fuller goads him into playing a practical joke on a lonely trucker, over a CB radio. Now, the trucker, an unseen and terrifying force known only by his CB handle, Rusty Nail, seeks the last laugh and revenge. Produced by JJ Abrams, who also produced Star Trek and Super 8.
A 2007 documentary film by Doug Pray about long-haul truck drivers. The film is comprised of interviews with various drivers, delving into their personal life stories. It also explores the life and culture of truck drivers in the United States. You can watch the full movie for free via the link below!
Traveling to California to race against The King (Richard Petty) and Chick Hicks (Michael Keaton) for the Piston Cup Championship, Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) becomes lost. This happens after falling out of his trailer in a rundown town called Radiator Springs. While there he slowly befriends the town’s odd residents, including Sally (Bonnie Hunt), Doc Hudson (Paul Newman) and Mater (Larry the Cable Guy). And let’s not forget about Mack, the 1985 semi-hauler, voiced by John Ratzenberger.
An action-adventure series featuring a guitar-plucking independent trucker who travels with a fun-loving chimp. He hauls anything and finds himself caught up into various adventures and misadventures along the way.
Married couple Jeff and Amy Taylor (Kurt Russell and Kathleen Quinlan) are driving across the country from Boston to California. While driving through somewhere in rural New Mexico, they almost collide with another truck on the road. Their new car mysteriously breaks down, and a truck driver helps by taking Amy to the nearest diner to phone for help. In reality, the driver kidnaps his wife and Jeff must track them down to get her back.
Hit the road with ITS Logistics
At ITS, we are seeking experienced drivers to join our team. We offer competitive pay and benefits, a 401k option with company match, national healthcare coverage, generous home time, dedicated freight, paid vacation, and holidays—and most importantly, respect. If you think you have what it takes to join the ITS team as a company driver, check out our open truck driving jobs, contact us at (855) 526-3487 or view our current job openings.