ITíS pretty much a sure thing that when you tuck into a 60s, 70s or 80s movie itíll yield a swag of cool rides to feast your eyes on. Even a bad flick can be brimming with cars, trucks and motorbikes in the background, even the most uninspiring of which would be deemed cool nowadays. Itís even better when the movie is an absolute ripper, as is the case with the 1980 action-comedy, Used Cars.
Rudy Russo (Russell) is the selfish lead used-car salesman at New Deal Motors, who dreams of spreading his inherent dodginess to the big-time world of politics by standing as the next local senator. With backroom deals and political corruption rife, his candidacy is a shoo-in if he can generate enough funds to seal the deal.
His boss Luke Fuchs and Lukeís twin brother Roy (both played to a T by Jack Warden) run opposing used car yards on the same dealer strip, both facing an uncertain future with one set to be chosen for resumption to make way for a new freeway off-ramp.
There is no love lost between the brothers, and this deep-seated hatred sees Roy greasing palms of his own in an effort to ensure his glamour car lot is saved while his brotherís backyard operation unceremoniously goes under.
When Lukeís dodgy ticker sees him check out early, Roy is immediately in line to inherit Lukeís yard and solve his land issues. But the closure of Lukeís yard would also leave Rudy out of a job, out of pocket and $10K short of his political buy-in before his party deadline, so he and fellow car yard shonky Jeff (Graham) and dodgy mechanic Jim (McRae) hatch a plan to keep Luke appearing alive and well so the yard can stay open for business. Midnight shenanigans and dodgy advertising hook-ups using the electronic skills of lunatics Freddie (Lander) and Eddie (McKean) Ė best remembered as Lenny and Squiggy from Laverne & Shirley Ė see Rudy beating Roy at his own game and on track to join Congress.
But the arrival of Lukeís estranged daughter, Barbara (Harmon), throws a serious spanner in the works, with Rudy falling for her girl-next-door charms. After Roy tries to smear Barbara with trumped-up charges, Rudy must decide between helping her with the most grandiose of schemes or his own plans for a rich future.
VEHICLES: 1973 Buick Centurion, 1973 Chevrolet C20, 1957 Chevrolet 210, 1970 Dodge Challenger, 1976 Dodge Coronet, 1971 Dodge Tradesman, 1958 Edsel Ranger, 1965 Ford Mustang, 1947 Ford Super De Luxe, 1974 Jeep Wagoneer, 1975 MercedesBenz 450SL, 1969 Mercury Cougar
STARS: Kurt Russell, Jack Warden, Deborah Harmon, Gerrit Graham, Frank McRae, Joe Flaherty, David L Lander, Michael McKean, Al Lewis
DIRECTOR: Robert Zemeckis
ACTION: All of the unadulterated crashes and frivolities youíd expect from this golden era of American car movies. Whether itís trashing í57 Chevys or blowing up a near-new Mercedes, everything is fair game
PLOT: A sleazy yet kind-hearted used car salesman takes on a local bigwig in a high-stakes car-yard war
AVAILABLE: DVD, digital download
IíVE loved Used Cars for nearly 40 years; it offers a perfect blend of action, laughs and innocence. Kurt Russell is hilarious as the narcissistic yet compassionate Rudy, but itís the performances of Gerrit Graham as the superstitious nutter Jeff and Frank McRae as the foul-mouthed mechanic Jim that add so much depth to Russellís character and help make it one of his most lauded roles to date. The car action comes thick and fast, and keen-eyed trainspotters will spy street a number machines of jacked-up, playing sidepiped, their part in slot the mag-equipped action finale. s 70s street machines playing their part in the action finale.