Truck Driving in Film and Television

Truck driving has always been a point of interest in American culture, particularly cinema and television, since the time the long run freight was invented. Whether it’s the open road, the solitude, or the love of driving, truckers just fascinate Americans. The late 1970s saw truck driving reach an all-time height of popularity. From this period onwards, there is a wealth of great content related to the life of the truck driver. Here is a list of arguably the best films and TV shows devoted to truck driving:

1. Ice Road Truckers: Probably the most well known show on the History channel, Ice Road Truckers brought reality TV to an occupation shroud in a lot of mystery and misconception. The series gives audiences a glimpse of how truckers deal with the harsh conditions of Alaska on 18 wheels of steel.

2. Big Trouble in Little China: Although not specifically about truck drivers, Jack Burton, the film's protagonist, might be the most quoted film trucker ever. Starring Kurt Russell and directed by horror master John Carpenter, Big Trouble in Little China is a tongue in cheek martial arts farce that enjoys a huge cult following. If you love a good ‘80s style laugh, definitely check it out. “This is Jack Burton in the Porkchop Express and I’m talking to whoever’s listening out there.”

3. Big Rig: Many regard this as the best documentary on truck drivers ever made. Consisting of interviews with the long haulers, the film captures a rare behind the scenes glimpse of life on the road. It’s a must for anyone curious about the trucker lifestyle.

4. Duel: Steven Spielberg's debut film, a made-for-TV thriller, doesn't provide the greatest image of truckers, but it sure is an exciting movie. A man driving on a highway is stalked and nearly killed by a tanker truck. Watch out, this one can give you nightmares. Although, today its plot is the stuff of spoofs.

5. Smokey and the Bandit: Likely the biggest film to come out of the ‘70s truck driving craze, it introduced the world to the Pontiac TransAm, Sally Field, and a host of truck driver slang. Smokey and the Bandit, which tells the story of a beer smuggler, is also the film Burt Reynolds is probably best known for.

6. The Road Warrior: The second installment of the Mad Max franchise, many regard this as the best one. In this chapter of the saga, a road worn Max meets a community of settlers who recruit him to retrieve a Mack truck from a band of leather-wearing, mohawk-haired biker villains.

7. “Maximum Homerdrive” (The Simpsons): Over the course of the long-running series The Simpsons, Homer has held most every known occupation. So of course, there’s an episode where he works as a trucker. In “Maximum Homerdrive,” Homer takes on Red Barclay's shipment, who dies from “beef poisoning” after Homer challenges him to an eating contest.

8. Breakdown: Kurt Russell’s career hasn’t ever steered too far the semi. In Breakdown, a thriller involving a Peterbilt 385, a seemingly friendly truck driver kidnaps Russell’s wife. This event drags Russell into a nightmare he and his wife barely escape from.

9. Black Dog: Regarded by many as the best trucker film, Black Dog stars Patrick Swayze as an ex-con. Although he lost his CDL after going to prison, he attempts to resume his old career and unknowingly transports a load of illegal weapons. The title itself references the legendary Black Dog that truckers see after running too long. A great lesson why you should always get enough shut-eye.

Although these films and TV shows might not offer the most accurate picture of the world of truck driving or trucking jobs, it is a truly interesting career and a fast growing industry. If you’re intrigued by the open road and don’t mind logging some long hours, consider a career in trucking.