1978 film poster
|Directed by||Peter Carter|
|Produced by||Jon Slan|
|Screenplay by||Paul F. Edwards|
|Music by||Paul Hoffert|
|Edited by||Eric Wrate|
Jerry Reed plays the "Iron Duke", an independent trucker who stands up to the local trucker boss, King Carroll, who tries to drive independent truckers out of business through intimidation tactics by a gang led by his partner Harvey. Duke's friend Rane, played by Peter Fonda, comes to visit his friend and ends up helping him. Rane and Pickup suggest hauling a load of illegal liquor to a lumber camp, in order to become secure enough to resist King and Harvey's pressure, and thus inspiring other independents to resist as well.
Duke is shot, and Rane organizes the other truckers to confront King and Harvey. Pickup is kidnapped by Harvey. Back at King’s headquarters, Harvey knocks Pickup unconscious, shooting King when he protests. As the truckers arrive and fight King’s men, Harvey puts Pickup in his car and drives away. Rane sees Harvey and gives chase. When Harvey stops, he and Rane confront each other in a fight. Both men draw their weapons and Rane shoots Harvey, then embraces Pickup. At the end of the film, Rane drives away in Pickup’s truck.
The film was Jon Slan's first large-budget venture. During production, the film was originally entitled P.F. Flyer, but High-Ballin' was adopted during the course of filming. Its shooting schedule was 10 weeks, between October and December 1977.
The film was filmed in and around Milton, Ontario, the Toronto waterfront and rural roads north of Toronto, with notable scenes shot at the Fifth Wheel in Milton and a small farmhouse near Kleinburg. In special effects, it featured a "flaming cannon roll" which had not previously been attempted in a motion picture.
Release and reception
The Independent Film Journal noted that "although High-Ballin’ is no great shakes in terms of original storytelling, director Peter Carter provides a good deal more polish and flash than one might expect of the raucous road genre." In The Toronto Star, Clyde Gilmour said, "This is a popcorn movie, intended to be half-watched while your mind is toying with other matters." The Motion Picture Product Digest characterized it as an exploitation film, describing it as "[existing] not to provide any kind of realistic picture of the trucking industry today but to exploit it for a standard action movie with lots of violence."
The Globe and Mail characterized the film thus:
As much money seems to have been spent on stuntmen as actors. Cars screech, do wheelies, fly off a large hauler, turn somersaults, burst into flames, and generally do everything but tapdance on their reckless way to oblivion, sometimes on lonely Weston Road or in front of the Harbour Castle Hotel.
- Downs, Roy (December 28, 1977). "Action movie filmed in Milton". The Canadian Champion (Milton). p. B8.
- Downs 1977.
- Ray Conlogue (December 19, 1977). "POW, CRASH, SLAM!: Getting hurt for fun and profit". The Globe and Mail. p. 12.
- Gayle Macdonald (August 12, 2002). "Paragon of reinvention". The Globe and Mail.
- Kay Kritzwiser (May 26, 1978). "Imagination plays across the screen". The Globe and Mail. p. 15.
- "High-Ballin'". The Globe and Mail. November 25, 1978. p. A11.
- IFJ, June 16, 1978
- Clyde Gilmour (June 1, 1978). "Ontario-made movie High Ballin' Peter Fonda's homage to Shane". The Toronto Star. p. C1.
- MPPD, July 5, 1978
- Stephen Godfrey (June 1, 1978). "Zen and the art of being Fonda". The Globe and Mail. p. 18.
- Rotten Tomatoes