47 FILMS: 33. THE BIG BUS

In our continuing series of 47 films to watch before you are murdered in your dreams, we look at the under-rated Big Bus.

There have been films about big airplanes. There have been films about big boats singing. There have been films about big buildings burning. There have even been films about big German balloons bursting. But there has never been a film about The Big Bus!

The year is 1976 and disaster movies are at their height. But The Big Bus comes out to terrible reviews and is itself a disaster, with critics and audiences both, but I would say that this films stands comparison with the great Airplane (1980) as one of the best examples of Hollywood parody ever made.

The nuclear powered bus Cyclops is due to complete its maiden voyage from New York to Denver non-stop, when a terrorist backed by the oil companies plants a bomb, injuring the drivers. Designer Kitty Baxter (Stockard Channing) turns to disgraced driver Dan Torrance (Joseph Bologna), who has been ostracized by the bus driving community having been accused of cannibalism of 110 passengers following a snow bound accident on Mount Diablo. It is a charge he strongly denies, though he does admit he ate one foot. His co-driver ‘made a stew. I didn’t know what was in it!’

The passengers board the big bus with their own baggage – a warring couple, a doubting priest, a defrocked vet, a man with six months to live. Add to this a bomb on board and the fact that co-driver Shoulders (John Book) is not called shoulders because of his physique but because he drives on hard shoulders, and disaster is waiting around the corner. Some cracking visual gags and a witty script along with cameos from Ned Beatty and Larry Hagman and the best cocktail pianist in the Oriental Lounge make this a criminally under-rated and under-appreciated film. Watch it now. Or die trying.

For more of our 47 Films Click Here.

HIDDEN GEMS: 13. GREASE

Hidden Gems brings to light little known film gems which have somehow slipped through the collective cinematic consciousness. You’re welcome.

The fifties were an innocent time. Cheerleaders in bobby socks, Rock n’ Rollers in leather jackets and slicked back hair, Summer loving happened some would say too fast and everyone went to school until they were in their mid-thirties. Olivia Newton-John plays Sandy Olsen, an Australian housewife who has come to America to hang out in high school. John Travolta is Danny Zukko, a slightly younger version of the Fonz, who falls for Sandy during a brief holiday romance, only to find her at his school. Unable to connect with her again because of the homo-eroticism of his middle aged man leather gang, Danny spoons around singing and Sandy, befriended by the local girls (less so the acerbically fun Stockard Channing), sings about girl’s nights etc.

There’s a James Dean style dragster race along a dry river bed, a dance contest and a subplot about pregnancy, but we’re all just marking time happily enough until school breaks up once more and we finally can fly off into space on a magical car!

The genius of this little known film – you are more likely to have seen Grease 2 – is its absolute pig-headed determination to not give a shit. It is exuberant fun with a bucket of good tunes, breezy good humor and the sense that youth is wasted on the young, so we’ll be young again too. John Travolta took years to recover from the disappointment of the films commercial and critical failure, only resurfacing in the mid nineties with Broken Arrow.

For more Hidden Gems CLICK HERE.