Sunday, December 19, 2010

Stockard Channing & Joseph Bologna in The Big Bus 1976

Before the Airplane franchise that revitalized Leslie Nielsen's career there was this 1976 disaster movie parody. The Big Bus had it all - action, suspense, danger... On the cutting edge of technology, the nuclear powered Cyclops is the first luxury bus. For its maiden run - a non stop trip from New York to Denver - after a bomb wipes out the driver and co-driver the team turns to Dan Torrence (Joseph Bologna), a promising bus driver with a dark incident in his past that kiboshed his brilliant career. The film follows the progress of the enormous Cyclops as it navigates the route to Denver and a minefield of attempts to sideline it by a group of oil sheiks and Iron Man, a diabolical villain in an iron lung. Also featured in the cast are a veritable who's who of 70's Hollywood actors - Ned Beatty, Lynn Redgrave, Sally Kellerman, Larry Hagman, Richard Mulligan Jose Ferrer and the irrepressible Ruth Gordon.

The centerpiece of the action is the bus itself - an articulated double decker affair with 32 wheels, wrap around windows and a graphic, orange and yellow paint scheme. It was fitted out with an amazing assortment of features, including automatic, enroute tire changer and flags of the world that sprang from the roof at the touch of a button. Inside were found a cocktail lounge, captains dining room, swimming pool and bowling alley. Here, in a clip uploaded to YouTube by clipfilmix we see the bus making its first appearance:

If you enjoy disaster movies, or parodies of them, then The Big Bus is a must see.

Obscurity factor: 4 (available on DVD, rarely shown on television, footage available on YouTube, recent enough to still be remembered by many)

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