Rupert Pupkin Speaks: My Warner Archive Grab Bag: THE BIG BUS ""

Monday, December 23, 2013

My Warner Archive Grab Bag: THE BIG BUS

THE BIG BUS (1976; James Frawley)
Sandwiched in between THE STING (1973), TAXI DRIVER (1976) and CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND (1977), producing duo Julia and Michael Phillips brought this lovely piece of material to the big screen (also in 1976). And I don't say "lovely piece of material" with any irony, because honestly I am a big fan of THE BIG BUS. Director James Frawley would do THE MUPPET MOVIE a few years later, but I certainly credit him and the crackerjack cast of this movie for it's memorable humor.  For all the credit that the Zuckers and AIRPLANE! get for launching the 'spoof' genre, this film beat them to the punch by 4 years. Sadly THE BIG BUS has never truly found an audience outside of its devoted cult fanbase, but this Warner Archive re-release (the DVD was originally put out by Paramount but quickly dropped out of print) will hopefully do a little to alleviate the film's unjustly forgotten status. The cast reads like a who's who of 1970s film: Joseph Bologna, Stockard Channing, Ruth Gordon, Ned Beatty, Sally Kellerman, Larry Hagman, Richard Mulligan, Lynn Redgrave, Jose Ferrer, Richard B. Shull, Howard Hessman, Stuart Margolin, Rene Auberjonois and on and on. The presence of Beatty, Kellerman and Auberjonois give it a dash of "Altman-y" flavor for me as those three appeared a few times as part of his stock company. 
It's a wonderfully clever and sublimely silly farce of a movie about the doomed maiden "voyage" of a gigantic bus, complete with all the amenities (including a bowling alley - which is used for a joke a few times). For fans of AIRPLANE! and disaster films in general, this movie is a must see.

1 comment:

Ed South said...

This was one of my video store discoveries back in the 80's and have loved this movie ever since! This is the first time I've ever heard/seen anyone else ever mention it!