Truck Stop Women (1974)

This promises to be a fun one this week, Enemaniacs! We’re going to talk about the 1974 action/drama Truck Stop Women. On the surface, this just seems like one of the many movies in the 70s that highlighted sexy women, truckin’, and car chases. But there’s a bit more to it than that.

You see, the basic plot is that a woman named Anna, played by Lieux Dressler, runs a brothel for truckers to stop by. One of the stable of women at said brothel is her daughter Rose, played by the always wonderful Claudia Jennings. That alone already seems kind of interesting and enticing. However, who made this movie is just as interesting and enticing…

Truck Stop Women is directed my Mark L. Lester. Now, Lester was relatively new to the biz at this point. However, shortly after this, he would make Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw starring Marjoe Gortner and Lynda Carter. This was Carter’s big screen debut shortly after her debut as Wonder Woman. I assume this went over well for the movie and for her. In fact, I need to make note of that movie to pick up and do for next year sometime.

Before the end of the 70s, Lester made the Linda Blair roller disco movie Roller Boogie. You’d think that would end anyone’s career. But Lester? Not so much. He actually flourished in the 80s starting with the thriller Class of 1984, then followed that up with Firestarter, based on the Stephen King book. What came the year after that though…

SENIOR MEDIA THESIS: The Church of Schwarzenegger

Motherfuckin’ Commando. Yup, Lester made one of the most entertaining action flicks of the 80s that helped solidify Arnold Schwarzenegger as not just an action star (Conan and The Terminator already did that), but as a hero. Starting here, Schwarzenegger would become one of the greatest action heroes for the next 10-15 years. Lester continued on to do more action thrillers, with a couple of them, Class of 1999 and Showdown in Little Tokyo, being somewhat well remembered or recognizable to fans of video store action flicks.

But let’s see how he handled action in the early days of his career. Truck Stop Women at least has promotional materials that looks like there will be cleavage, trucks that wreck into stuff, and explosions. Let’s see if it shows that spark in Lester’s work that would lead him to some pretty good success in the following decade.

And the movie starts exactly how I wish every movie started – with a gross old dude getting his smelly feet washed by a big-titty lady. As they mess about in that soapy water, a couple guys who look a little like gangsters with three-piece suits and fedoras come in and kill the couple… or so they think. The guy, Moiry, didn’t actually die, despite being plugged by six bullets. He’s in a coma.

These guys work for a mob boss who has naked women just hanging out around his pool. He tells his goons to go out and deal with Moiry’s operation in New Mexico. It’s run by some broad named Anna. Speaking of… Anna’s daughter, Rose, is flagging down a truck with a friend, Tina. A trucker stops to see what he can do to help, and Rose clubs him with a wrench. The girls are next seen driving the guy’s truck to Anna’s Truck Terminal. But before getting there, they pick up a young man hitchiking across the southwest. Tina immediately takes the young buck to the sleeper part of the cab and gives him a spin before tossing him back out onto the road.

So here’s the real situation with Anna’s Truck Terminal. It’s not just a terminal or station. The girls also steal trucks, move stolen merchandise, and do some light prostitution. The girls generally like fuckin’ anyone to be fair. I appreciate their sexual freedom.

You know what else I appreciate? Anna’s little desk CCTV to see what customers are doing with their girls.

That’s up there with the little Delta Force video conference thing they had to talk to Robert Vaughn that seemed way too early in terms of technology. Anyway, I also very much appreciate how much nudity has already been seen in these first 8 minutes. The point is, Anna likes looking in on the various girls and their johns and gets a little kick out of it.

Rose and Tina go into the diner in the truck stop. Rose tells Tina that if her mom was all that smart, she’d start selling liquor with the meals. Tina thinks that would be kinda stupid considering these are truckers and probably wouldn’t stop drinking. ALSO… Truckers are, like, drivers too? Meanwhile, the goons from the beginning of the movie Smith and Rusty, are in there too casin’ the joint. As Rose walks by, Smith grabs her arm and offers to by her dinner so they can chat.

They start talking about how Rose should be running the show at the terminal and not Anna. In Anna’s office, she watches what her girls are doing because the truckers will tend to give up the information about what they’re hauling. She has her guys go and get into the trailer and nab what’s in there.

As Rose talks to Smith about his proposition and how it could help her aspire to something better, Anna comes in and tells her that some people are coming in and she wants her to take care of them. This pisses Rose off something mean. She loses her temper over being asked to “work” some more tonight. She ends up leaving with Smith and Rusty, which gives Anna a chance to ask Tina what’s up with all that. Anna doesn’t know what’s going on with Rose’s mood, and Tina is pretty sure Smith and Rusty are just a couple goons.

And in a completely shocking turn of events that I didn’t plan for, and had no idea this was going to happen… One of Anna’s customers at the Terminal who got set up with a lady is named Seago, and he’s played by Dr. McCoy Bronson himself, Paul Carr!

Carr, of course, played Mark in last week’s feature, The Severed Arm. In this, he’s meanin’ some serious business. He wants only to talk to Anna. He’s there to tell Anna that Moiry is dying and Smith and Rusty are here to push her out of New Mexico. On top of that, they are backed by some big time eastern money. He tells her about a shipment of money that will be passing through. He wants to bring Anna in on the deal, but she really doesn’t want to mess with eastern mafia.

I like what’s going on in this first 20 minutes of the movie. It’s got a crime angle with possibilities for heists and such. It’s got characters who seem to have ideas and aren’t just a bunch of dummies and bimbos. It’s got a lot of fun and personality. After Anna talks to Seago, there’s some commotion outside. You see, the sheriff likes to come along and try his hand at some of Anna’s ladies. He’s chasing around a naked girl in just his boxers, hat, and holster. It’s just a moment to step back and chuckle a little bit.

I’ve kind of noticed this tone existing in other Claudia Jennings movies I’ve covered in the past. For example, it seemed as though there were several opportunities for chuckles and light hearted doings in both The Great Texas Dynamite Chase and The Single Girls. You are really getting a chance to see the people around Anna’s place are a really tight knit group.

Later, Smith and Rusty talk to Anna. They basically are going to muscle her. There was one truck parked at the terminal full of electronics. She’s going to sell them off and make a boatload. However, Smith and Rusty come over and tell her that there’s a change in management. She’s given a check for some cash, but doesn’t realize it is for the inventory of those TVs. She says she’s not going to go along with any of this because this is her territory and she’s not doing anything that Moiry himself doesn’t give orders for. Like the fine, upstanding gentlemen Smith and Rusty are, they take it well.

Nah, I’m fuckin’ with ya.

When Anna’s other guys come in and pull guns on Smith and Rusty, Smith explains that Anna and Moiry are done and over with. Times are changing. The syndicate from Los Angeles is taking over and she’s making a mistake not falling in line. What’s more, they now know that, indeed, Moiry was shot by these guys. Mac, Anna’s #2, wants to go after them. Especially because Rose left with Smith and Rusty. Anna says they need to wait for them to play their hand.

We find out that the plan is for Rose to be given Anna’s truck stop by the Los Angeles syndicate. Of course, she kind of wants power more than anything and was already frustrated by how her mom was running things to begin with. Naturally, the syndicate wants someone who will play by their rules. This will also provide her with some additional power too, right? I mean she’s basically connected now.

What I think I like most about this movie, I mean besides the lighthearted nature of the plot and the boobies, is that there’s enough of a detailed plot here in between the scenes with the more fun stuffs that makes me legitimately curious where things are going. Anna is truly upset that Rose left her. The walls are kind of closing in on her too with these other organized gangs.

You know what, though? This movie is actually transcending its more “exploitation” plot and details too. Yes, there are lots of boobs. Yes, there’s this kind of highway cowboy outlaw feel to it. But Lester is directing the hell out of this movie. As the first act ends, and the plot has all been laid out to us, there’s a moment for Seago and Anna to try to figure out what the hell the next move is and how they are going to deal with Rose running off. It’s sunrise in this scene, and holy shit it is a gorgeous shot.

Seago’s popped wool-lined collar and Anna’s strong, and defiant, stance in that light makes for a great frame.

And while we’re at it, let’s talk about these characters, Anna and Seago. Seago is no nonsense and seemingly quite competent at being a heist man. He’s gruff, but he also has a strange character tick – he hacks and coughs uncontrollably. It’s just interesting. It almost makes him seem like a dying breed. Anna is simultaneously soft and hard. She’s soft to the girls and a great friend to the fellas, but is able to hold her ground too. Lieux Dressler was mostly a character actress. She did a few movies, but mostly did TV parts with her only recurring roles coming in the soap operas General Hospital and Days of Our Lives. She’s really good in this part in particular. I’m quite invested in what’s going on here.

The movie decides to take a moment to have a scene that is best described as a music video while a song plays about truck drivers. There’s a combination of just b-roll footage of trucks on the highway mixed with still shots of truck drivers. Then a girl is hitchhiking and can’t get anyone to stop for her until she starts taking off her clothes.

This movie had to have been made specifically for truck drivers and no one else. I mean I’m digging it, but that whole break to have that 3 minute music video is there for nothing else but for truck drivers to get a little patriotism for their profession. It’s charming as hell. Plus, it’s that old, good country western music too.

As our musical intermission ends, Anna and Mac are going to find Rose. They head to one of the new truck stops on the road and she finds her daughter playing pool. First, she takes a pool cue and starts waiving it around to scare off the other bikini clad girls playing in the pool hall part. She then punches Rose out. Like ALL the way out. She then throws her daughter over her shoulder and leaves with her. Don’t just take my word for it. Check it out for yourself!

Now, as they were about to escape with Rose, Rusty does try to intervene, but he gets gut-punched by Mac. Anna and Mac make off in their semi, but what does Rusty do? He gets in his own big rig and chases after them. It’s kind of crazy to think that there is a big rig chase in this. In one, you have people who work at a truck stop. If you were to tell me that a race with semi trucks happens in a movie, I’d expect it to be between truckers or people who hang out around trucks all the time. I would not expect that half the truck chase in this movie is a mafia goon.

But at least it does end with a truck with bad brakes careening down a steep hill and crumbling into, like, a billion pieces.

But that’s not all! There was this couple near by where Rusty’s truck went over the cliff that were just fuckin’ under a tree. The guy drove his girlfriend there in his little convertible. When Rusty looks at the devastation of his truck, he decides, out of anger, to toss that poor dude’s car over the cliff and it crumbles to pieces down by Rusty’s truck.

I love this movie.

Anyway, stealing Rose back doesn’t come without consequences. Another of Anna’s guys is working under a car and he gets squished under it when an unseen assailant lowers the jack and puts the car on top of the poor guy. Another of her guys is also found killed, hanged by some engine belts. In light of all this, Rose and Anna reconcile. And mommy gives her little girl a job to do.

While it seems as though Anna is gonna be hiring some extra muscle, Seago and Anna agree to hijack this securities truck to put an end to Smith and the problems he represents. It seems as though Anna has sent Rose back to sweet talk Smith some more. He talks about how good she’s going to look at the casinos in Las Vegas. She asks if her momma is gonna be okay to which Smith says he’s going to take care of her.

I don’t think it’s ever a good thing to hear a mob goon say he’s going to take care of your mom.

The queen of side boob just barely able to hold on under a tank top…

Rose also assures Mac that they are going to get Smith and his goons for the pair he killed. She says something about the “big job” that Anna and Seago are planning. Mac knows nothing of this. She says it must be because Anna isn’t going to cut him in. She tells him how much she’s getting and walks off as if she’s waiting for him to have a reaction. I smell a double cross going on here.

She heads off to do another hijacking with Tina. This is another great shot in this movie. Whether it is Lester himself wanting these shots or it is John A. Morrill, his Cinematographer, that is just nailing the look of this movie. We only see Rose and Tina’s legs as they try to flag down a trucker. They are complaining of it being cold and the road looks lonely and desolate, but there’s a truck heading their way. It’s just another shot that is expertly using the scenery and time of day perfectly.

After Rose and Tina, and Anna’s new hired thug, make off with another hijacked truck, we see Anna and Seago talk about how fast Rose double crossed her. Seago relaxes Anna and seemingly plans to make the moves on her. As he massages her neck and shoulders, we see something important. When Anna’s guy was killed by being bonked on the head and then had a car lowered onto him, we saw a specific ring on the hand of the person who committed the murder. Seago is wearing the same ring!

Elsewhere, Rose and Anna’s new guy, pull the truck over so she can, I dunno, take a dump or something. Rusty shoots and kills the guy and Rose is reunited with Smith. Smith gives Rose some orders to call her mom and explain what’s happened. Anna tells Seago about the guy being killed by Smith and Rusty and that she’s been dumped at the gas station. Seago and Anna start planning their heist. Seago wants Anna to leave Rose behind because she can’t be trusted. Anna refuses. She warns Seago that he will not be able to separate her and Rose.

Mac, Curly (the dim-witted member of Anna’s gang), Anna, and Rose pull off the heist. They find what they were looking for which are boxes containing securities and some nice jewelry worth lots of money. Unfortunately, Anna realizes that a rag that Mac was using, that he found on the floor of the garage when they found their friends dead, belongs to Seago. Anna, again, realizes someone she loves has made a fool of her. It doesn’t help that Rose is still planning on getting her cut and going right back to the rivals and probably going to double cross her mom.

Anna is pissed. Rose is pissed. This isn’t going to end exactly all that well, methinks. Sure enough, as Anna drives the stolen truck, Seago pulls up beside her to tell her with another guy working with Seatgo. They have machine guns in the back seat. She tries to run them off the road, but Seago is able to climb up onto the truck and has her pull over at gunpoint.

Meanwhile, Mac and Rose are at a motel instead of where they were supposed to meet up to split the money. To get him to tell her more about the plan, she lies to Mac saying that Smith said he’d kill her if she didn’t help them get the securities money. Then, to get even more info out of him, she seduces him.

Back at the truck, Anna is able to overpower Seago and his goon and they are killed by the cows in the trailer that was hiding the goods. Mac brings Rose back to Anna’s truck stop where Rose thanks him and embraces the waiting Smith. Pissed, Mac tries to beat up Smith, but Rusty is there to help beat up Mac. Curly is able to scare off Smith and Rusty, but they make off with Rose as well.

The next day, Anna mobilizes her girls, Mac, and Curly, and they plan an ambush for Smith and his goons. Using the guns they got from Seago, the girls deal with Smith’s goons.

Now, with only Smith, Rusty, and Rose to deal with, Anna meets them in what appears to be an abandoned little ranch town. Smith asks Rose if she thinks Anna is capable of murder. Rose does not believe her to be able to kill. After Mac takes out Smith’s car’s tires, Anna comes out to deal directly with Smith. It’s like a good old fashioned standoff from a western. Using Rose as a sort of hostage, Anna’s forced to drop her, Mac, and Curly’s guns.

After Rose and Rusty find the cases with all the valuables, one of Anna’s girls drives a semi through the barn they are in and kills Smith. A firefight breaks out, but Rose kills Rusty. Anna, thinking her daughter tripled crossed everyone and is on her side again, gets shot by Rose. Just as Rose plans to kill Anna, Mac shoots rose to death. The movie ends with a jaunty country song and that’s that!

This is a pretty good exploitation crime drama. Sure, there’s some more lighthearted stuff in there, but it gets nice and dark too. I’m not surprised in the least that it ended this way. There’s no way both Anna and Rose were going to survive. Rose was rotten to the core. She walked around like she was the queen of the truck stop, but she was always under Anna’s thumb. She wanted power, but had no idea how to obtain it properly… like Anna did. It’s just one of those unfortunate situations that often found their way into these types of indie drive-in flicks of the early 70s.

Though I like this movie a whole lot, there is a bit of a problem here… That is with Rose. As I said, Rose was rotten to the core, but I don’t feel like she was fully developed. She bonks the one guy at the beginning in a fashion that was off-putting to Tina. She loses her temper very quickly with her mother. It’s just not well developed why she has the problems with her mother that she does. It undercuts her devious nature to just make her a brat.

On the other hand, the real charm and quality of this movie is with the characterization of Anna’s group of people. Between Anna herself, Mac, and Curly, we have a cast of characters that are very well developed with motivation and distinct personalities that don’t even feel like they are characters. They feel like real people at this truck stop. Even Seago is properly framed as a kind of rogue-ish scoundrel that will do whatever he can to get Anna to do this job for him, so he can double cross her.

That’s where the charm of Truck Stop Women lives. It’s in these yokels like Mac and Curly. That’s exactly what I signed up for when I picked this movie to be covered. Later, in September, I’m going to cover Moonshine County Express. I fully expect it to be this same kind of movie.

That’s not next week, though! Next week, I’m gonna do a movie that is insanely fun. It’s one that I could have done years ago, but wanted to wait for the proper time. That time is in seven days. Come back next week for the 1985 action revenge thriller Blood Debts!

But, in the meantime, head over to YouTube and subscribe to the B-Movie Enema YouTube channel. There, you can find the first season of B-Movie Enema: The Series. You’ll also find several clips that I pull when I need some extra help fully describing something crazy. Also, check out the site’s Facebook page as well as Twitter too!

See you next week, Enemaniacs!

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