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 more than 100 years, since the very first rigs from Mack Trucks hit the road in 1907. In the 1970s, America was introduced to “trucker culture” as drivers became romanticized in pop culture and Hollywood as modern-day cowboys, with regular folks donning trendy trucker hats and using CB radios.
The trucking industry has continued to thrive and the American Trucking Association (ATA) estimates that trucks move roughly 72.5% of the nation’s freight by weight. The ATA also reported in 2020 that there are 7.65 million people employed throughout the economy in jobs that relate to trucking activity in 2020 (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 capturing the allure of the open road.
We wanted to honor some of that nostalgia, so we asked our drivers and the fleet team to vote on the best trucking movies of all time and here’s what they had to say.
10. Maximum Overdrive (1986)
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 diner cook, Bill Robinson (Emilio Estevez), emerges as the unlikely leader of the pack, attempting to find an escape plan for himself and the survivors, who include his boss, Bubba Hendershot (Pat Hingle), and a newlywed couple. Written by Stephen King, the author is a huge rock n’ roll fan and convinced legendary band AC/DC to provide the soundtrack for the movie, including hits “Who Made Who” and “You Shook Me All Night Long”.
9. Black Dog (1998)
An ex-convict truck driver with a suspended license (played by Patrick Swayze) makes one last no-questions-asked trip, only to discover that his rig is stocked with assault weapons. Having taken the cash-paid job to help support his family, the panicked man finds his wife and child’s lives are in danger if he fails to deliver the goods. Culminating in a high-speed chase involving a convoy of 18-wheelers. Randy Travis, Meat Loaf, and more star alongside Swayze in this action-packed flick. Swayze actually went through real truck driving school before filming to earn his Class A CDL and personify the ultimate trucker.
ITS Team Quotes:
“Come on, Meat Loaf is in it!” James Ybarra, Driver
8. Breaker! Breaker! (1977)
Tough guy trucker J.D. Dawes (Chuck Norris) drives his big rig to a little desert town and smack into the middle of a cesspool of criminality – all to rescue his brother, Billy (Michael Augenstein), who has been kidnapped. But 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:
“Chuck Norris, enough said. Great action movie made in 1977.” Norman Clifford, Driver
“If you want to watch a movie with trucks blowing $%*&# up-buildings, cars, helicopters, and everything-this is the one.” Patrick McFarland, Marketing
7. Hoffa (1992)
Directed by Danny Devito, this dramatized biography of the infamous American union boss Jimmy Hoffa (played by Jack Nicholson) follows four decades of his life, from 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. With the exception of the exchange between Jimmy Hoffa and Robert Kennedy when Hoffa first enters and delays the start of the proceedings, virtually every word in the film between Jimmy Hoffa and Robert Kennedy is taken verbatim from the transcripts of the actual real-life hearing.
ITS Team Quotes:
“Don’t mess with the Mafia.” Jackie Latragna, Marketing
6. Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
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, who is the fiancée to Jack’s best friend. Jack must help his friend rescue the girl before the evil Lo Pan uses her to break the ancient curse that keeps him a fleshless and immortal spirit. This movie was actually first 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:
“Jack Burton in the Porkchop Express is the king!” Peter Nuti, Driver Recruiting
5. White Line Fever (1975)
Jan-Michael Vincent stars as as he returns to Tucson, Arizona from fighting in Vietnam, where he dreams of becoming an independent . After borrowing money to get his own , the Blue Mule, Carrol Jo finds he is expected to pay off 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. Fun fact about this for our non-truckers, “white line fever” is used to describe the mental fog that truckers can sometimes experience after spending hundreds of miles on the road.
4. Over the Top (1987)
Starring Sylvester Stallone, Lincoln Hawk is a struggling trucker who arm wrestles to make some extra cash on the side while he tries to rebuild his life. Hawk takes his estranged son with him on the road to attempt to make amends for leaving him and his mother years earlier. The boy runs off with Hawk’s wealthy father-in-law but shows up at the world arm-wrestling competition in Las Vegas where 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 on 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, Marketing
3. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
The fourth installment in the action-packed Mad Max franchise, fury road is directed by George Miller and 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 to flee from cult leader Immortan Joe and his army in an armored tanker truck in an epic desert road battle. 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 and the film debuted in 2015, nearly 30 years after it was first thought of.
ITS Team Quotes:
“He was Mad, he was furious, he was Mad Max.” Ricky Wesley, Operations Manager
2. Smokey and the Bandit (1977)
The iconic trucker movie starring Burt Reynolds, Sally Field, Jackie Gleason, Jerry Reed, Pat McCormick, Paul Williams, and Mike Henry, the film follows Bo “Bandit” Darville (Reynolds) and Cledus “Snowman” Snow (Reed), two bootleggers accept a challenge from characters 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 drives a Pontiac Trans Am to keep the heat off the Snowman’s truck while Texas county sheriff Buford T. Justice (Gleason) and Junior are in pursuit. 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:
“C’mon, it’s the Bandit, and who doesn’t love Fred the Dog.” Bob Sprague, Driver
“Eastbound and down, loaded up and truckin’! And Burt Reynolds’ mustache is badass.” Joe O’Brien, Driver
“How in the hell is this not number one? The Bandit was the best, this is the quintessential ’70s classic trucking movie.” Patrick McFarland, Marketing
1. Convoy (1978)
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) and banned together to get Spider Mike to the border of New Mexico so he can get home to his pregnant wife. Facing increasing harassment from the law, 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, one of the greatest trucking songs of all time.
ITS Team Quotes:
“The history, the nostalgia of Convoy is the best.” William Vera Martin, Driver
“Breaker one-nine, this here’s the Rubber Duck, who can forget that?” Larry Anderson, Driver
Choosing just ten awesome trucking movies proved a little too difficult, so we had to include a few honorable mentions from the team.
Every Which Way But Loose (1978)
A tough trucker with a cheeky pet orangutan, Philo Beddoe (Clint Eastwood) moonlights as a fighter, with his close friend Orville Boggs (Geoffrey Lewis) setting up matches for him. When Philo begins dating country singer Lynn Halsey-Taylor (Sondra Locke), and she abruptly disappears, he goes off in search of her, his simian companion and Orville in tow. On their cross-country trek, Philo and friends repeatedly clash with bikers, leading up to a violent showdown.
David Mann (Dennis Weaver), a mild-mannered electronics salesman, is driving cross-country on a two-lane highway when 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. Unable to escape 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!
The fate of humanity is at stake when two races of robots, the good Autobots and the villainous Decepticons, bring their war to Earth. The robots have the ability to change into different mechanical objects as they seek the key to ultimate power. Only two humans youth, Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) and Mikaela Banes (Megan Fox) can save the world from total destruction. Plus, you can’t go wrong with Optimus Prime-the greatest truck of all time.
Joy Ride (2001)
It’s summer break and college freshman Lewis Thomas (Paul Walker) has decided to embark on a cross-country road trip to pick up the girl of his dreams, Venna (Leelee Sobieski). But Lewis’ romantic hopes hit a detour when he stops on the way to rescue his older brother, Fuller (Steve Zahn), who goads him into playing a practical joke on a lonely trucker, over a CB radio. Now, that trucker, an unseen and terrifying force known only by his CB handle, Rusty Nail, wants the last laugh and revenge. Produced by JJ Abrams, who also produced Star Trek and Super 8.
Big Rig (2007)
A 2007 documentary film by Doug Pray about long-haul truck drivers. The film consists of a series of interviews with different drivers, focusing on both their personal life stories and the life and culture of truck drivers in the United States. You can watch the full movie for free via the link below!
While 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 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.
B.J. and the Bear (TV Series 1978 – 1981)
An action-adventure series featuring a guitar-plucking independent trucker who travels with a fun-loving chimp, hauls anything, and finds himself caught up into various adventures and misadventures along the way.
ITS Team Quotes:
“I like the comedy, it’s a classic.” Albert Toscano, Driver
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 shortly after and a truck driver stops and assists them 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 (877) 765-5487 or view our current job openings.