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  • I was the Production Accountant on this movie, and I also got to do some voice-over work on it, so I'm not entirely unbiased, but if it were awful, I would say so. I thought it was a fun film, not a critically acclaimed masterpiece, by any means, but there were plenty of laughs along the way. The Bible states that laughter does good like a medicine, so watching this movie could be good for your health.

    So many of the actors in this picture hadn't yet reached their peak at the time we made this film. Susan Sarandon, of course, is one who has since gone on to much greater fame. Melanie Mayron was seen on TV on a weekly basis as a photographer in the "Thirty-Something" TV drama series. Robert Englund later became known as Freddie Krueger, still haunting people's dreams. One of my personal favorite actors on this show was Dub Taylor, who played the sheriff. He was an excellent comedic actor, and a truly nice, sincere person. We all had fun working on this show, and I think that fun comes through.
  • It has to be said that this is a pretty terrible film. Nevertheless I watched it again recently and quite enjoyed it so I feel I ought to say something positive. First of all you would think that a film with a cast which includes Henry Fonda, Eileen Brennan, Dub Taylor and Susan Sarandon should have something going for it. The tone of the overall film is of a rather cartoonish comedy but the early scenes hint at something more substantial. Henry Fonda as Elegant John is ill and probably dying and the cross country drive he undertakes is his way of defying death. Yet this theme is never explored any further. Elegant John's reminiscences about meeting Eleanor Roosevelt in the Depression era clearly evoke Henry Fonda's role in John Ford's film "The Grapes of Wrath". Indeed when Elegant John picks up Beebo this exactly parallels the opening scene of "The Grapes of Wrath" when Tom Joad hitches a lift. None of this is played out in the rest of the film The women from the whorehouse are endearing and funny and if the film had stuck to playing out their adventures it might have been much more rewarding. But half way through the film something goes horribly wrong. Perhaps the filmmakers lost their nerve, ran short of funds or had the film cut to ribbons in editing but the latter part of the film bears no relation to what has gone before. The women virtually disappear without explanation. The irritating John Byner and Austin Pendleton characters appear and take over. This whole element of the film feels like a reshoot or reedit grafted on to the earlier picture. Pity. There is also, incidentally, a really excellent score by Craig Safan which deserved far better.
  • According to the Films of Henry Fonda from the Citadel Film Series, The Great Smokey Roadblock was on the shelf for two years before being released. After that I suppose the producers decided this one was strictly for the red state drive in trade. I certainly don't remember it being exhibited in Brooklyn at the time.

    It's not a bad film, it was the kind of thing that Fonda did during that last decade, mostly films strictly for the paycheck and no strain on any ability. He's a typical red state hero, a hard working truck driver who because of a prolonged hospital stay was unable to keep up payments on his big rig and the bank repossessed it. Not something you do to Fonda who steals the truck back and goes looking for a last big load.

    And what a load it is. A favorite place of Fonda's a cat house that caters to men of the road has been shut down and Eileen Brennan and her girls have been told to cease and desist. But she's got a new location in South Carolina so she moves bag and all the baggage with Fonda from Wyoming.

    The film has a few laughs but some serious flaws as well. Try as I might I could not understand why the eyes of a nation should be focused on Fonda and his plight. Nor could I understand why he could not get a legitimate load for his vehicle even if it was stolen in the eyes of the law. Why should those shipping if he's got a good reputation care? And the villain of the piece drugstore cowboy truck driver Gary Sandy was hostile to Fonda for reasons that were never made clear. And Robert England's character of a hitchhiker Fonda picks up along the way is never really any kind of coherent.

    I did enjoy sheriff Dub Taylor and how the women got around him after he jails Fonda and them. And the women do have a good way for paying for gas, food and lodging.

    Young Susan Sarandon had a bit role as one of Eileen Brennan's girls. The Great Smokey Roadblock while not great was better than a lot of what Fonda was in during his last decade.
  • Henry Fonda plays Elegant John, an old trucker who steals back his prized rig in California and takes off with almost no money. His Kenworth tractor has the name Eleanor on it. Elegant John once met Eleanor Roosevelt. He pulls a Fruehauf van with a "sunroof". Why is he called Elegant John? Well, sonny, if you drive five million miles without being late or having a wreck, you deserve to be called Elegant. Elegant John picks up Bible-thumping hitchhiker Beebo Crozier, who is going to Florida to learn motel management. Elegant John stops and gets fuel. Beebo reluctantly pays for fuel. The two stop at a whorehouse for truckers at Cheyenne, Wyoming, a possible homage to Fonda's movie The Cheyenne Social Club. The prostitutes are about to be raided, and the madam hires Elegant John to take them to the coast of South Carolina to start another prostitution business. Thus Elegant John's trip will be coast to coast. They go through Kansas and have a commotion near Springfield, Missouri, with Dub Taylor's character Harley Davidson. After that, there's a truck stop dancing scene to the music of Orleans' "Still the One", which is pop rock in a country sort of way. The movie claims that it's a compliment for a truck driver to be called a cowboy, but I've seen where an out-of-place, amateur, careless truck driver is called a cowboy or a cotton picker. There's a great Smokey roadblock in Georgia to stop them. Will Elegant John's Kenworth plow through a bunch of old Mopars? Will Elegant John live to see the Atlantic Ocean? And what is Beebo going to do with his life, now that it has taken an unexpected turn? This movie is just a hodgepodge of elements thrown together for drive-in fare.
  • sandcrab27711 February 2019
    Any henry fonda film is worth a look ...gary sandy shows what a real moron acts like when put on the big screen and embarrasses himself ... the women were delightful, and daina house was especially beautiful and bountiful ... loved eileen brennan too
  • Leofwine_draca6 October 2018
    Warning: Spoilers
    I saw THE LAST OF THE COWBOYS under the re-titling of THE GREAT SMOKEY ROADBLOCK in order to tie it into the Burt Reynolds series. It's nothing like that film, although it does star Henry Fonda as a truck driver. Sadly this is a tired, low budget affair that goes all-out in its attempts to be a comedy but pretty much falls flat every time. Most of the running time is set inside a cat house with lots of boisterous behaviour and character interaction, but little in the way of solid plotting or engagement. The most fun you'll have here is seeing a seedy Robert Englund as a fellow trucker and Susan Sarandon in a small role.
  • After being admitted to a hospital in California for a terminal illness, a truck driver named "Elegant John Howard" (Henry Fonda) has his big rig repossessed by the finance company. But rather than stay there and die he decides to retake his truck and drive it one last time on a trip across the country. On the way he picks up a hitchhiker near Cheyenne named "Beebo Crozier" (Robert Englund) who wants to go to Florida. Unfortunately, neither he nor Beebo have enough money to pay for the food and fuel necessary to get there. As luck would have it, however, while driving near Laramie, upon stopping to visit an old friend named "Penelope Pearson" (Eileen Brennan)-who happens to be the madam of a brothel--he discovers that she and six prostitutes desperately need to get to South Carolina. Needless to say, with their ability to make money, combined with his need to fund one last cross-country trek, both Elegant John and Penelope reach a business agreement of sorts to accomplish their respective goals. Now rather than reveal any more I will just say that this was an entertaining and light-hearted drama which kept me interested from start to finish. Admittedly, it is a bit dated but I thought it definitely managed to capture that particular period of time quite well. In any case, although this isn't the best "trucker film" ever made, I thought it was well worth the time spent and for that reason I have rated it accordingly. Slightly above average.
  • Warning: Spoilers

    I was ready for another 1970's car chase/truckin'/CB radio movie.

    That isn't what I got.

    I was ready for a ridiculous comedy.

    That isn't what I got.

    What I got was more of a dramedy. Don't get me wrong, there are many moments of slapstick, goofiness and ribaldry. After all, much of the plot concerns the fates of hookers and their Madam. Also, some marijuana is smoked. I believe that this was mandatory in movies made in the Seventies, be they Blaxploitation films or nature documentaries. Also, Nietzsche is mentioned and quoted, several times. Ouch. Them's the Seventies for ya.

    And yes, there is a cross-country road journey. In a big 18-wheeler. It also happens to be stolen. And there is a roadblock of police cars that gets smashed.

    But all of that was sort of just window dressing, beside the point of the movie. The movie is really about kicking death in the ass and going out in style and with dignity, instead of wasting away in a hospital bed. Kids, this is more James L. Brooks territory than Roger Corman. Elegant John, Henry Fonda's character, retains his dignity, and heads out on the open road with no money, for one last adventure. And he gets it, in spades, before he shuffles off this mortal coil, just short of completing that elusive "one last perfect run."

    The most bothersome parts to me are the shifts in tone, from pathos to wacky slapstick. Actually, I guess life is like that sometimes, but this isn't life, it's a movie, and this could have been handled a little more deftly. There are a few jarring shifts in tone. Also, the pace is a little slow. It takes far too long for our hero to load up his truck with hookers and hit the road.

    Even the fact of the stolen truck, which should be titillating and exploitive, is sad and winsome: he stole back his own truck which was repossessed because he was sick in the hospital and missed his payments because he couldn't work.

    Most of the actors are spot on. Fonda is rock solid as always. Eileen Brennan is great. Robert Englund is funny and highly believable. Susan Sarandon is adorable and charming. Dub Taylor does that same insane character he always plays. And John Byner and Austin Pendleton are really freaking annoying. Especially Austin Pendleton. But that's what he does. Asking Austin Pendleton to avoid being annoying is akin to asking a plant to stop photosynthesizing.

    Having made all the objections I have, I would still rate this film as better than expected, but can't recommend it without reservations. You will be disappointed if you're looking for another Smokey and The Bandit. It seems like the filmmakers wanted you as the viewer to reach for the handkerchief far too much, and far too little for the beer. By the same token, those looking for a good weeper are not going to turn to this occasionally ribald semi-slapstick comedy with the exploitation title.
  • A dying trucker (Henry Fonda) throws caution to the wind by stealing back his repossessed semi and venturing his last haul across the country with a Bible-spouting sidekick (Robert Englund), a madam (Eileen Brennan) and her six girls.

    "The Great Smokey Roadblock" (1977) was originally titled "The Last of the Cowboys" and was presumably changed to take advantage of the success of "Smokey and the Bandit." While this one focuses on a trucker and a band of prostitutes, it's just as entertaining as that more popular road farce and maybe a smidgen more.

    The movie repeatedly points out that Fonda's character is 60 years old, but he was actually 71 during filming and looked it. Don't get me wrong, he looked good for his age and had his usual charisma, but he didn't look 60, unless he had lived a very hard life.

    Curvy Daina House is the highlight on the feminine front, but I strangely found grumpy Alice (Mews Small) notable too. Susan Sarandon is also on hand before she made it big. Actually the entire female cast is entertaining because they're fleshed out as individuals.

    The geography is disingenuous as Northern California is passed off for places like Missouri, the Smokey Mountains and the Carolina coast. Yet even big budget movies back then did this, let alone small flicks like this one.

    The film runs 1 hour, 44 minutes, and was shot in Oroville, California.

    GRADE: B-
  • Elegant John (Henry Fonda) is a terminally ill truck driver who steals his old rig to make one last great cross country run, but this time has the law on his tail as who pursue his 18 wheeler across State lines. Along the way he picks up an odd assortment of hitch-hikers and passengers, including a band of evicted prostitutes, the madam (Eileen Brennan) being his old flame.

    A rather odd film cheaply shot by a one time director John Leone that pre-figures the CB radio craze and such popular road movies as SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT (1977) and CONVOY (1978). This odd curio did become a cult favourite following the CB radio craze and with the emergence of the home video boom. A curious film for Fonda that one would suspect was not quite the film he thought it was going to be. Some of the band of followers, from the odd Robert Englund character to the band of prostitutes that includes Susan Sarandon; Sarandon was also a co-producer on the film.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    An old gear jammer want to do one more run before he is asked to run the streets of gold.

    This movie is o.k. To run his last run, an old timer hauls a cat house from somewhere in frontier country to somewhere in the southeast. I was unaware the 53' trailers has sunrooves. In the dance scene,Elagant John has a "What the heck am I doing here" look on his face".

    Henry Fonda drove the Kenworth 18 wheeler.

    Henry Fonda was a permanent A list actor.

    Eileen Brennan,Melanie Mayron,Mews Small,Diana House,Leigh French,Susn Sarandon, and Valerie Curtain are hot!!