The full name is actually the Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash. This brainchild of Brock Yates of Car and Driver magazine was a highly illegal race in which competitors raced from New York City to Redondo Beach, California. Run 5 times during the 1970's, top finishers often took less than 33 hours to cross the US. This competition inspired 2 Cannonball Run movies with Burt Reynolds and many spoofs. Basically replaced now with the One Lap of America.

The Cannonball Run
Or: There Was Actually a Time When You Could Make Movies Like This

You could also make a sequel or two, if you were feeling particularly bold, foolhardy, or desperate. What circumstances were in 1981 to permit the release of this cinematic gem are now unfathomable; it is perhaps sufficient to say that we remain forever grateful to the Fates for providing them.

The Cannonball Run was nothing more than an opportunity for a HUGE bunch of celebrities to get together to party, drink, socialize, and make a movie with whatever time was left over. It is a bit of fun, mainly because the cast members are so visibly enjoying themselves, and it requires absolutely no effort on the part of the viewer, in any respect. If you want to watch a film while doing something else, this is the one. It's just very silly.

All These People With Nothing Better to Do

And a couple dozen others as well.

Who's Responsible

Be kind, they did they best they could do with the material they were given.

The, er, Plot.

The Cannonball Run proper was a cross-country road-race, held without respect to federal, state, and local law-enforcement agencies. The film is the story of the race, entered by a bunch of crazy characters with myriad cars and racing strategies, many of which include dressing up as priests, dressing up as paramedics, dressing up as superheroes, or wearing very little at all.

Burt Reynolds and Dom DeLuise are your protagonist partners; Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr are the bad guys you love to hate. They spend most of the 95 minutes trying to sabotage each other, in a good-natured way.

Of course, Roger Moore has his gadget-filled car, there are two scantily clad women running about in a Lamborghini Countache, Jackie Chan pilots a supercharged, hi-tech rocket-powered import, and Burt gets it on with Farrah.

First one to the finish line wins.

Memorable Moments (Absurdities and Non Sequiturs)

Burt was a stuntman, the director was a stuntman, Jackie Chan was a stuntman--so you know there's gonna be a fight scene. Everyone gets to play in this one, which has enough balsa wood to put up an entire lightweight, easily broken city. Everyone takes a chair, goes through a window, or has a roof fall on them at one point or another.

Looking for a little MORE topicality? Jackie Chan tries to watch Behind the Green Door starring Marilyn Chambers while in his car. Adult film experts, you know. Adult film novices--I suggest a double feature.

And one, just one, little snippet of dialogue. Dean and Sammy dress up as priests--they figure it'll cut down on being pulled over if they're on a mission from god:

Davis, to Martin: We can't lose. our co-pilot.

A drunken Dean Martin--there's a stretch--shakes his head.

Martin: You remember our car? Two seats?

Davis nods.

Martin: Where's He gonna sit?

Martin slaps Davis across the face.

Martin: Where's He gonna sit?

This is one of the many moments during which the actors are on the verge of breaking character, such as their characters are. You'll get to see them blow it properly during the outtakes during the ending credits.

Tell Me Again Why I'm Reading This?

Because it's silly and ridiculous, funny in the juvenile (not Juvenalian) way, and somehow or another part of the American cinematic experience.

Alternately, it's a way to amaze yourself by realizing that 1981 also produced Raiders of the Lost Ark, On Golden Pond, Arthur, and Porky's. Sort of an unbalanced year.

And most importantly--you need to know what to buy when you hit the $2.00 bin at your local video shop.

Chocolate, Gold-Foil Wrapped Oscars to:

For the Quest

Cannonball Run 2001

A short lived show on the cable network USA, this was a reality show that came around not long after the first Survivor, but before the explosion. The premise was simple enough: a race across the United States with various challenges along the way, and the winning team takes home $100,000. Something like a cross between CBS's Survivor and MTV's Road Rules. The race began in New York City, and finished in Los Angeles; it lasted all of 9 days.

The Basic Rules
Each team gets a small bit of cash and a car, and food and lodging each night. No speeding or otherwise breaking the law, and no touching the other teams' cars. Each day started with what was called a Jumpstart Challenge, which gave each team a task to comeplete before they would be allowed to leave. An interesting twist was called the Morality Challenge. Staged breakdowns were found scattered along the route; if a team stopped to help, they got a pass to skip a challenge of their choice and save precious time. Of course, they had no way of knowing whether the breakdown was real or not. At the end of episodes two, three, and four, the last two team to finish face off in the Roadkill Challenge. Naturally, the loser goes home.

The Teams
  • Forbidden Fruit: Two Playboy Playmates and recent graduate of a seminary college, driving a pink 1961 Cadillac. Gee, is this supposed to be some sort of whacky mix?
  • Hip Hop and Pop: Continuing with the odd combination theme, this team consists of a couple rappers from LA and a firefighter from North Carolina. They drive a purple Chevy Impala low-rider.
  • Third Wheel: This team wins the Why The Hell Did You Do This? award. This team features a commited, loving couple, and his ex-girlfriend. Whatever ugliness might ensue, they drive a beautiful blue 1969 Pontiac GTO, white racing stripes included.
  • The Castaways: Speaking of reality shows the Castaways have two former Survivor contestants, and another from Temptation Island. I find their ride amusing, a nice redone hearse.
  • Hog Wild: Not much to say here, just a couple of guys from Nashville and girl from New York. They have a jacked-up 1988 GMC truck of some sort.
  • Alpha Gamma Grandma: Last but not least, this team pairs a couple of California frat boys with a 70-year-old grandma. Sounds like a good fun time, right? They have the newest car of the bunch, a 1995 Camaro.

For more information, I suggest you look to Network USA's web site at

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.