We conclude guest column week with The Hater Nation's NFL Adam, a leading "sponsor" of Blog Cabins and one hell of a knowledgeable guy, whether it comes to sports or film or even Liberace. Today, he will take you back in time (1981, to be exact) to a simpler time, when Loni Anderson was considered a megababe and young Fletch was just a precocious first-grader (or so). Time to hop into the way-back machine....
A little indulgence here - take a look at the opening minutes of one of the greatest movies in the history of cinema and take a look at the names of the cast as they appear on the screen.
Burt Reynolds (money)… Roger Moore (money)… Farrah Fawcett (money)… Dom DeLuise (money)… Dean Martin (do you even have to ask?)… Sammy Davis Jr. (money)… Jack Elam (money) (and the rest listed in alphabetical order), Adrienne Barbeau (money), Terry Bradshaw (money), Jackie Chan (money), Bert Convy (money), Jamie Farr (money), Peter Fonda (money), and so on.
Now, ask yourself, has there ever been a greater cast ever assembled in the history of cinema? Honestly. The only other possible names that could have made this even bigger would have been Nipsey Russell and McLean Stevenson. (And truthfully, they probably tried to get them.) And most people think of this as nothing more than your average popcorn flick. A mindless collection of entertainers doing nothing more than entertaining, with more emphasis on mugging for the camera than of actually acting. Hell, Frank Sinatra signed on for Cannonball Run II because Dean and Sammy raved about how much fun they had on the first one, according to the director’s commentary.
And yes, there is a director’s commentary for this movie.
But is that it? No. Not by a long shot. The Cannonball Run is one of the most important films of our (or possibly any) generation.
America really missed out on the true meaning of the film. While often dismissed as mindless crap on par with other Burt Reynolds/Hal Needham vehicles, The Cannonball is really an indictment of the American medical industry.
It’s true. Consider:
Farr plays a Muslim doctor whose sister implores him not to join the infidel Americans in that stupid race. But not just an automobile race, rather a race for superiority in the American medical industry.
The entire picture is pleading for America to move into a socialistic form of medicine. The ambulance, driven across the country in search of a monetary reward, is a metaphor of the American medical industry’s pursuit of material gains, instead of healing. Not looking for cures, we have rouge doctors, posing as humanitarians, driving around the country with money as their lone priority. Reynolds and DeLuise kidnap an innocent woman (Fawcett), convince her that she is sick, pumping her full of drugs she does not need. This illustrates the current state of the pharmaceutical companies whose main agenda is pushing more drugs down the throats of hapless Americans. The doctors then leave the true helpless victim, George Furth (an environmentalist, no less), to die on the streets. Furth’s only crime is trying to uncover the great conspiracy of modern medicine. He plays the hapless folly in the picture, showing just how futile resistance really is.
Elam plays an incompetent doctor who displays only rare moments of lucidity, often only surfacing when directly confronted by the police. The bumbling cops represent the American government that is powerless to stop him. During the waning moments of the film, Elam remains incapacitated because of drugs.
The most moving theme of the picture is when Martin and Davis, dressed as priests, sabotage the ambulance. This signifies the church’s original role in the Red Cross, whose true purpose was to help the sick and not chase money. Martin and Davis’ defiance is punished by a right-wing police officer doing the bidding of the American medical community.
While Cannonball has the best cast in the history of cinema and is a pure entertainment delight, it might also be one of the most important films of our generation. Something that should be studied for generations and given the recognition that it deserves.
I didn't want to tell Adam this, but I've never seen The Cannonball Run from start to finish. It's safe to say that this is due to my rampant dislike of Burt Reynolds (I'd hardly call Dom DeLuise or Jamie Farr "money," either, but that's neither here nor there), but after reading this, I'm more than willing to give Jack Horner a chance. Considering that I'm the guy that can quote Fletch Lives, I'm hardly one to judge.