Truck Turner By David Walker. Mack "Truck" Turner (Isaac Hayes) is one of those no shit takin’, ass kickin’, bounty hunters that always gets his man...

Mack "Truck" Turner (Isaac Hayes) is one of those no shit takin’, ass kickin’, bounty hunters that always gets his man. Along with him is his ace boon coon, Jerry (Alan Weeks), Truck sets out to collect the bounty on ruthless pimp and reckless driver, Gator (Paul Harris). Things take a turn for the worse when Truck fills Gator full of lead and Jerry gets stabbed by Gator’s Sondra Locke-lookin’ ho, effectively putting his black ass outta commission.

Pissed off that her main man Gator is taking a dirt nap, chief CEO of the local ho house, Dorinda (Nichelle Nichols), places a price on the head of Truck and Jerry. The payoff? Dorinda’s "fine stable of pussy." Next thing you know, every pimp in town sets out to give the Truck a flat tire. Among the army of killer pimps is the notorious Harvard Blue (Yaphet Kotto), the most sinister of all love brokers. Not only is he lookin’ to introduce our hero to the grim reaper, he is bound and determined to be the King of all Pimps. Ahh, to have goals.

Surprisingly, Truck Turner is a highly entertaining film, and among one of the better blaxploitation flix you’re likely to find. Much of what makes this bad boy so fun are the performances of Hayes and Kotto. Hayes is at once laid back, tough, and charming. Though not the best actor in the world, he has an undeniable charm and radiates cool as he operates comfortably before the camera. Kotto, on the other hand, is sinister as the deadly pimp. He brings a sense of class to an otherwise unclassy character.

Look for appearances from a ton of character actors including AIP regular Dick Miller, Scatman Corothers, Sam Laws and Stan Shaw. And, of course, there’s Star Trek’s Lt. Uhura as Dorinda. You ain’t never heard no woman cuss up a storm the way Nichols does in this flick. Every other word out of home girl’s mouth is "nigger," "shit," "mother fucker," "pussy," and "bitch." She was more foul-mouthed than the entire cast of the Talk Dirty to Me series. I was actually embarrassed and aroused at the same time.

Originally, this was a film that was developed for Robert Mitchum then passed on to James Coburn but when he bowed out AIP decided that they had invested too much time and money into the script. So it was reworked into a black film with the hope of a quick return at the box office. With that, blaxploitation fave Dick Anthony Williams (Slaughter’s Big Rip-Off, The Mack) was set to play Truck, but at the last minute, Isaac Hayes was brought in because it was felt that his name had more marquee value. The fact that he could provide a kick-ass soundtrack probably didn’t hurt either.

Credit for Truck Turner being the fun-filled romp it is goes to screen-writer Oscar Williams (the man who gave life to Black Belt Jones as well as writing, directing and producing one of my all time favorites, The Final Comedown) and Michael Allen (Enter the Dragon) who were brought in to give the script a "black feel." What they did moreover was infuse the script with enough personality and sense of humor that it rises above much of the typical blaxploitation shit. Williams and Allen succeeded in giving the characters dimension. In his dislike of his pet cat and his interest in "dangerous" women like his shop-lifting old lady, Annie (Anazette Chase), the ex-football hero-turned-inner-city bail bond skip-tracer appears akin to Elliot Gould’s downtrodden Phillip Marlowe in The Long Goodbye.

Helmed by Martin Scorsese’s protégé Jonathan Kaplan (check out that Mean Streets-inspired shot of Kotto in the third act), who also directed faves like Night Call Nurses, The Slams, White Line Fever, Over the Edge, and The Accused along with utter shit like Bad Girls.

Back to Issue 9