TRUCK TURNER

This month, it’s Isaac Hayes’ turn to play a cat who won’t cop out when there’s danger all about, but this time we’re talking about “Truck Turner” (1974). This Soul Cinema classic is featured this month as part of THE HIT LIST, our double feature of classic action movies from our vault Thursdays at midnight eastern, 9 pm pacific, only on MGM HD.

Hayes plays the titular Mack Truck Turner, a former football player turned bounty hunter who works the streets of Los Angeles to find criminals who have skipped bail. Truck is a street-smart tough guy who knows how to let his fists do the talking. Truck is one of the good guys, with a soft spot for his girlfriend Annie (Annazette Chase) and her cat. When a criminal Truck and his partner Jerry (Alan Weeks) are hired to bring in winds up dead, the pair find themselves embroiled in a turf war between rival pimps in LA’s seedy underworld.

When it comes to a movie like “Truck Turner,” things like plot and character are almost beside the point. What you’re coming for is hard boiled action, tawdry 70’s fashions, and a killer soundtrack. “Truck Turner” has plenty of it all: there are car chases, gun battles, and fist fights; there’s halter tops, hats, and high-heeled platform shoes; and Isaac Hayes himself provided the hot-buttered soundtrack that just won’t quit. In a genre where excess was a hallmark, “Truck Turner” has more than its share of pleasures. Truck and Jerry embark on a nearly nine-minute chase through L.A. after a pink 1965 Lincoln Continental set to Hayes’ classic instrumental, “Pursuit of the Pimpmobile.” The scene for which the movie is probably best known, is a funeral for a pimp, has to be watched to be fully appreciated; the shots from the point-of-view of the man in the casket are worth the price of admission.

But what makes “Truck Turner” stand out is its talented supporting cast. The late, great Yaphet Kotto, fresh off his turn as Kananga opposite Roger Moore as James Bond in “Live and Let Die” (1973), brings undeniable gravitas and menace as the stone-cold killer, Harvard Blue. Nichelle Nichols, best known as Lt. Uhura on Star Trek, shines in her only Soul Cinema role. As Dorinda, a prostitute desperate to hold on to her power, Nichols brings a fierceness and anger rarely seen in her other parts. Keep an eye out for other familiar faces, including Scatman Crothers and B-movie staple, character actor Dick Miller.

For a good time, look for “Truck Turner,” featured this month as part of THE HIT LIST, Thursdays at Midnight Eastern, 9pm Pacific, only on MGM HD.