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Big Bus, The

Entry updated 4 April 2017. Tagged: Film.

Film (1976). Paramount Pictures. Produced by Lawrence J Cohen and Fred Freeman. Directed by James Frawley. Written by Cohen and Freeman. Cast includes John Beck, Joseph Bologna, Stockard Channing, José Ferrer, Ruth Gordon, Larry Hagman, Sally Kellerman and Stuart Margolin. 88 minutes. Colour.

The Cyclops, a nuclear-powered luxury double-decker bus equipped with bowling alleys and swimming pools and capable of holding 110 passengers along with its crew, departs on a non-stop trip from New York to Denver, Colorado. Unfortunately an oil sheikh known only as Ironman (Ferrer) is determined to discredit or destroy the new vehicle. His Mad Scientist assistant Alex (Margolin) has developed a Weapon which causes earthquakes, but Ironman initially wants the vehicle stopped in some more conventional way. Alex plants two bombs aboard the bus before it sets out; one of these detonates, killing the driver and its inventor. Kitty (Channing) was once engaged to former driver Captain Dan Torrance (Bologna) and recruits him to save the Cyclops despite his having once crashed a bus on top of Mount Diablo in California, with the loss of all aboard save himself and his co-driver (later accused of preserving their lives by eating the passengers). After several near-disasters including almost going off a bluff in the Rockies, the bus continues on towards Denver when Ironman orders the earthquake weapon used. Alex has blunderingly set the device to cause an earthquake directly underneath Ironman's home, and both are killed. But finally, only miles from its destination, the vehicle splits into two sections....

A broad Parody of the Disaster films so popular in the 1970s, this sf comedy (see Humour) was a major box-office disappointment when originally released. It has since gained a modest following, since the intended Satire works reasonably well. [GSt]


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