7 Facts About The Kris Kristofferson Film ‘Convoy’

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While he is primarily known as a singer and songwriter, Kris Kristofferson has enjoyed a successful career as an actor as well. He is perhaps most well-known for playing the character John Norman Howard in the 1976 film A Star is Born, which earned him a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.

Two years later, Kristofferson starred in another one of the most notable films of his career. That film was 1978’s Convoy, which was based on the #1 country and pop hit “Convoy” by C.W. McCall.

Kristofferson played the film’s lead character, a truck driver named Martin “Rubber Duck” Penwald. Other stars who appeared in the film included Ali MacGraw as Melissa, Ernest Borgnine as Sheriff Lyle Wallace, and Burt Young as Bobby, better known as “Pig Pen.”

While the film had mixed reviews, it was a huge hit with country fans. Its soundtrack is to thank for that, as it featured some of the leading country stars of the time, including Merle Haggard and Crystal Gayle.

No matter how many times you’ve seen Convoy, we’re sure there’s a few facts about the film you don’t know. We’re about to fill you in on those facts, so head down below to check them out!

1. One Famous Scene Took Ten Days To Shoot

When filming a movie, it isn’t at all unusual for one scene to take multiple days to film. But one of Convoy’s most recognizable scenes took more than just a few days to shoot…it took ten!

That scene was the famous diner brawl, which takes place after Sheriff Wallace insults a truck driver named Spider Mike. As you would expect, Mike doesn’t take the insult well, and he turns around and punches Sheriff Wallace in response.

A full-on brawl breaks out after that, with some deputies jumping in to help Wallace while Mike’s fellow truckers pitch in to help on his side. The truckers end up winning, and The Duck handcuffs Sheriff Wallace to a barstool at the end of it all.

Although the scene was certainly intense, we still have a hard time believing it took ten days to shoot! That’s a long time for one scene!

2. One Of The Trucks Was Damaged

You would never guess it from watching the movie, but one of the main vehicles used in the film was horribly damaged at one point. What made the whole thing even worse is the fact that it was the main type of vehicle used in the film…a Mack truck.

The Mack truck was The Duck’s vehicle in the film, so it arguably had as much of a starring role as Kristofferson. So imagine how horrifying it must have been for the cast and crew when the Mack truck they were using for broke down shortly before a scene!

IMDb describes what happened, saying that the Mack truck was so badly damaged that it eventually stopped working. They were due to film a shootout scene on a bridge just moments later, so everyone had to get a bit creative. They ended up bringing in a bulldozer to push the truck across the bridge so they could finish the scene.

They clearly did a good job at getting everything back in order, since we never would have guessed that the truck was broken in that scene!

3. The Original Film Was Supposed To Be Much Longer

As it stands in its finished version, Convoy is a total of one hour and 50 minutes long. That’s a decent length for a film, wouldn’t you say so? But if the original cut had prevailed, it would have been much longer.

When director Sam Peckinpah turned in his original cut of the film, Convoy clocked in at three hours and 30 minutes in length. So why was it trimmed down so much? Well, because Peckinpah was completely uninvolved in the film’s post-production. As a result, editor Garth Craven was tasked with editing the film, and he’s the one who brought it to its eventual runtime.

4. The Four Main Actors All Shared A Connection

Many actors end up working with the same people over and over again. The four main actors in Convoy all shared a common connection, one that only expert film buffs have probably realized.

That connection rested within director Sam Peckinpah. The four lead stars, Kristofferson, MacGraw, Borgnine, and Young had all acted in at least one film Peckinpah had directed, with Kristofferson previously appearing in two. Looks like the Hollywood community really is one big family!

5. The Part Of The Duck Wasn’t Offered To Kristofferson First

Now, it’s hard to picture anyone but Kristofferson in Convoy‘s lead role as The Duck. But believe it or not, the part wasn’t originally offered to him.

The role of The Duck was first offered to Steve McQueen, who was one of the leading actors in the world at the time. But he turned the role down, and it was then offered to Burt Reynolds. Interestingly enough, Reynolds turns the role down only to play a trucker in a different film…Smokey and the Bandit.

6. C.W. McCall Recorded A New Version Of The Song For The Film

It is pretty common knowledge that the movie Convoy was inspired by country singer C.W. McCall’s 1976 hit single of the same title. But what isn’t as well-known is the fact that McCall had to make a brand new version of the song to be included on the film’s soundtrack.

While the movie was inspired by the song, its plot was almost entirely its own, since the song hardly had a plot at all. Once the screenplay was finished, McCall recorded a new version that mentioned plot points and characters from the film. 

7. Kristofferson’s Band Members Had Roles

Shooting on Convoy ran over schedule, and then Kristofferson had to go away on tour for a month, so nothing could get done in his absence. Since the break was so long, some of the previously hired actors left the film to fulfill other responsibilities.

Once Kristofferson returned, they were in need of some actors to fill the smaller parts that had been left behind. As a result, some of Kristofferson’s band members were brought in to play minor roles as truck drivers.

But those aren’t the only roles that Kristofferson’s band members took on. At the end of the film, The Duck is seen hiding out in disguise in a bus full of “long-haired friends of Jesus.” Most of those people were played by members of Kristofferson’s band as well!

There you have it…those are seven interesting facts about Convoy that you might not have known until now! Which one surprised you the most? Let us know!