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

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