Trucker movies are something exceptionally cool. Frankly, it is expected with a trucker as the main character or trucking as a motif of the movie—lots of action, trucker lingo, and memorable one-liners.
While the everyday trucker is not the Stallone or Chuck Norris type and doesn’t sport a fancy mustache a particular Bandit is known for, it is fascinating to see how directors envision trucking.
Most trucking movies on this list show truckers as people walking a thin line, outlaws, cowboys, even straight out villains.
We all know trucking is everything but the above. Still, a movie exists to tell a specific story, however fictional it may seem.
Many such stories have become cult-classics; some of them funny, others borderline frightening.
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First, Let’s Talk Trucker Movie Genre
Trucker movies, as the name suggests, focus on truckers and trucker life by having a trucker as one of the main characters or takes trucking as a theme and motif.
Hollywood tends to romanticize trucking, and these movies rarely capture what trucking really is – long days on the road, loneliness, and all the hardships that come in between. Trucking movies are over-the-top, action-packed, and often even in the realm of the supernatural.
Now, for an experienced trucker, some of these movies will be unrealistic and funny. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun watching them.
Here are the top X trucker movies ever made!
20. Hell Drivers (1957)
A movie full of intrigue, danger, and revenge, Hell Drivers is “hell of a watch.” The movie is about Tom, an ex-con who starts working for a contractor that transports loads of gravel from a quarry. There’s a catch – the job is perilous, and the quota is twelve 20 mi roundtrips through treacherous terrain. There is a conflict about who can do the most runs per day, and there is the plot twist that the manager and the best driver are scamming money by hiring fewer drivers than what the company pays for and taking the rest.
Memorable quote: “Well, I’m the last man to want to walk around without a head.” – Tom Yateley
19. Smokey and the Bandit II (1980)
The second installment in the Smokey and the Bandit franchise has the Bandit, and this time around, they are transporting an elephant of all things from Florida to Texas. The arch-enemy Buford T. Justice is back, and the stunts, jokes, and practical effects are back as well.
18. Hoffa (1992)
Older drivers perhaps know who Jimmy Hoffa, the Teamsters union boss, and probably the most influential person in the trucking industry, and the country for that matter.
It is a story about a man who would go to extreme lengths to help truckers stand up to their employers. Even if it means making deals with the mob.
An excellent watch, especially if you want to learn about the history of the industry.
Memorable quote: “Life’s a negotiation, it’s all give and take.” – Jimmy Hoffa
17. Sorcerer (1977)
A movie about four men from different parts of the world agreeing to do the impossible – transport a shipment of nitroglycerin (which is highly unstable and volatile) for 200 miles in Porvenir, a small South American town. In exchange, they are promised to get $10,000 and citizenship.
The men start their journey through dangerous terrain and are attacked by local guerillas. Action-packed with lots of practical effects, Sorcerer is a must-watch.
Memorable quote: “When the money’s up, I’m just as good as any of you.” – Nilo
16. Black Dog (1998)
An ex-con trucker is manipulated into transporting a large shipment of illegal firearms worth over $3,000,000. He got convicted for killing a motorist due to his sighting of the Black Dog (a phenomenon that appears to tired drivers.) Initially, he thinks the shipment is toilets, and he refuses it. However, because of debt, his house is about to get repossessed, and he reluctantly agrees to do the haul. He gets attacked throughout the journey by Red, the trucking yard owner from where he is to pick up the load. A lot of action packed in a great movie.
Memorable quote: “Damn! Damn! Damn! You’re finished Crews! Your ass is mine!” – Red
15. Maximum Overdrive (1986)
The only movie Stephen King directed (for a reason, this movie is one of those it is so bad, it’s great movies.) Its premise is as follows – the Earth passes through the trail of a comet, and inanimate machines start becoming alive. Naturally, the machines turn and begin attacking humans. Campy, with lots of black humor – something that King is not particularly famous for.
The movie got nominated for two Golden Raspberry Awards (the awards they give to terrible movies) but lost to Under the Cherry Moon.
Still, a great watch if you are a fan of movies like The Room.
Memorable quote: “I ain’t never seen a hero with his ass in the air like that.” – Brett
14. Joy Ride (2001)
Joy Ride is one of those run-of-the-mill horror movies where the protagonists are just a couple of brats having a “great” idea to prank a trucker. They do this by pretending they are a woman, only to have it back-fire and the trucker’s remorseless vengeance to be afraid of.
Great thriller movie if you are up for the genre.
Memorable line: “Now they know what it feels like… to be the butt-end of the joke. Your palms sweating, your face burning up. Now they know what it’s like… to be the f****** punch line.”
13. White Line Fever (1975)
A movie with intrigue, revenge, and heroism, White Line Fever is one of those movies everyone should watch in their lifetime, despite its campiness. A trucker’s son takes over the family trucking tradition after his father passes away to find out that the company his father drove for has turned into a smuggling front for a big corporation.
Memorable line: “This ain’t the ladies room. Come on in.” – Duane Haller while answering the knock on his closed office door
12. Breaker! Breaker! (1977)
A campy trucker movie starring Chuck Norris. What’s there not to like? But seriously, this movie is quite the watch. A trucker’s brother gets charged with false accusations by police on his first haul. The trucker starts investigating what happened, just to discover a level of corruption that’s quite literally a rabbit hole.
And remember, when the DOT pulls over Chuck Norris, the DOT leaves with a warning.
Memorable line: “I’m gonna stick ya!” – Hillbilly
11. Flatbed Annie and Sweetiepie: Lady Truckers (1979)
A woman whose husband’s truck is hijacked is followed by a collections agent trying to intimidate her into telling him the whereabouts of the truck. She decides to keep the truck instead, and with the help of a veteran trucker, Flatbed Annie, she goes on a dangerous adventure.
One of the first movies ever to have women truckers in it!
Memorable line: “When 2 women, 18 wheels and 16 gears are rollin’…move over.” – the tagline of the movie showing how far we’ve come since those times.
10. High Ballin’ (1978)
Two truckers fight off a bunch of truck hijackers after being on their hijack list. Later, they find out the hijackers were hired by a local crime boss who is hell-bent on putting all independent owner-operators out of business.
Great action scenes, and great humor, with a bit of romantical undertone.
Memorable line: “Truckin’ is one thing, High-Ballin’ is another, and the way they do it is something else!” – Movie tagline
9. They Drive by Night (1940)
Two brothers get into trucking after one of them loses an arm. They run a business shipping fruit from-farm-to-market, and business is hard. They face a lot of corruption and fierce competition and are forced to drive long hours. After witnessing a friend’s death due to falling asleep on the wheel, they decide to find a way to make a profit so they can quit.
Memorable line: “Early to rise and early to bed, makes a man healthy, but socially dead!” – Ed Carlsen
8. Over the Top (1987)
Yeap, they’ve made a movie about arm-wrestling featuring Sylvester Stallone. To be honest, the title Over the Top fits this movie quite perfectly. It’s 90 minutes of testosterone, corniness, Stallone’s weirdness, and lots of sweaty arm-wrestles. After his wife dies, a trucker tries to make amends with his son after leaving them ten years earlier. He enters the World Arm Wrestling Competition in Las Vegas with the hopes of winning $100,000 and a custom semi to start his own trucking company and support his son.
Memorable line: “Tell you the truth, the truck is, uh, you know, the most important thing for me. I… I don’t really… it doesn’t matter if I, uh, become the champion or anything. That’s, that’s not the most important… I… I need this truck.” Lincoln Hawk
7. The Great Smokey Roadblock (a.k.a.) The Last of the Cowboys (1979)
A movie about an aging trucker who is not about to give up trucking: he escapes the hospital he is in, steals back his repossessed truck and goes on to make one last perfect cross-country run. The adventure starts when he picks up six prostitutes to bring them across the state border from Wyoming to Kansas City.
Memorable line: “You’re in for the ride of a lifetime!” – movie tagline
6. Every Which Way But Loose (1978)
A trucker with a talent for fist-fighting roams the San Fernando Valley with his prize orangutan Clyde in search of good beer, great country music, and fights. It has two plots – the trucker searching for his love who suddenly disappears while being chased by a biker gang and the LAPD, as well as the fact that he is fighting the retiring fist-fighting champion, Tank Murdock, in his final fight before retirement. It is a must-watch for all truckers out there, not only because of the starring role is Clint Eastwood!
Memorable line: “The second shot was to let you know the first was no accident.” – Echo
5. BJ and the Bear (TV Series, 1978-1971)
Some might say that BJ and the Bear were inspired by the no. 6 entry on this list. Perhaps they are right since both these movies include a trucker with a simian companion. However, BJ and the Bear is a TV show, and Every Which Way But Loose is a feature-length film. This TV show follows the adventures of BJ McCay and his pet chimp, Bear, throughout their adventures around the country.
Memorable line: “Y’know, this story is gonna make Watergate seem like a dimestore heist.” – Holly Tremaine
4. Convoy (1978)
This movie is actually based on the country song “Convoy” by C. W. McCall. It serves as a testament to the CB radio and trucking craze that peaked in the ’70s. It is a story about truckers forming a mile-long convoy in support of a trucker who wants to get revenge against a crooked sheriff.
Memorable line: “Boy, these lonely long highways sure grind the souls of us cowboys.” – ‘Pig Pen’
3. Duel (1971)
Duel is the directorial debut of Steven Spielberg. A business commuter from California is driving a Valiant. He is on his way to meet a client, just to find himself chased by a rusted Peterbilt 281 after he overtakes him. This movie is packed with scary scenes and the fact that we never see the trucker’s face just adds up to the tension.
Memorable line: “[Valiant hidden from passing trucker – camera slowly travels up hood to worn, weary David Mann] The highway’s all yours Jack… I’m not budging for at least an hour. Maybe the police will pull you in by then… maybe they won’t… but at least you’ll be far away from me…” – David Mann
2. Smokey and the Bandit (1977)
The movie that arguably started the CB radio craze in the ’70s, Smokey and the Bandit is still considered one of the classics. Smokey and the Bandit is a 90 min car chase sprinkled with a plot about smuggling bootlegged Coors beer in 38 hours or less for $80k. While on the run, they are chased by sheriff Buford T. Justice (Smokey) and his son Junior. And it isn’t Burt Reynolds’ portrayal of the Bandit what makes the movie – it’s the legendary Buford T. Justice.
Great car scenes with nothing but practical effects.
Memorable line: “What we’re dealing with here is a complete lack of respect for the law.” Buford T. Justice
1. Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
Where do we start with Big Trouble in Little China… The movie initially rolls with a very real setting, with truck driver Jack Burton arriving in Chinatown, San Francisco, and after taking his friend Wang Chi’s money in a game of Pai Gow, he sticks with him until he gets paid. Eventually, they end up at the airport to pick Wang’s fiancee, a green-eyed Miao Yin (remember the green eyes, they are important.) Wang’s fiancee gets abducted by a street gang, and when they go rescue her, all hell’s breaking loose, including sorcerers, martial arts, monsters, and prophecies.
A cult classic, and for a reason, Big Trouble in Little China takes our number one spot as the greatest trucker movie ever made.
Memorable line: “All I know is, this Lo Pan character comes out of thin air in the middle of a goddamn alley while his buddies are flying around on wires cutting everybody to shreds, and he just stands there waiting for me to drive my truck straight through him with *light* coming out of his mouth!” – Jack Burton