Ex-con-turned-race car driver Coy "Cannonball" Buckman signs up for the annual Trans-American Grand Prix, an illegal outlaw road race that starts at the Santa Monica Pier in California and ends in a garage in the lower west side of New York City. His girlfriend, who's also his parole officer, refuses to let him go, but she ends up getting dragged along for the ride. But what Coy doesn't know is that his brother makes a bet with the local Mafia that Coy wins the race.
I also saw this film as part of a double bill with Giant Spider Invasion. Really enjoyed it and it stands up with the Gumball Rally/ Cannonball Run films.
This fun road race flick from Paul Bartel is even better when you imagine it's a prequel to his classic DEATH RACE 2000. Carradine returns as a racer recently paroled from prison who enters a race across the country, unaware of the shady dealings his own gambling addict brother is making behind his back.
CANNONBALL is filled with great performances from a talented cast that includes Gerrit Graham, Robert Carradine, James Keach, Dick Miller, Bartel, Archie Hahn, Veronica Hamel and Mary Woronov. Darker than many other similar comedies, it serves just as much as a critique of the car crash genre as a celebration of it.
I originally saw this back in the '70s on a double-bill with The Giant Spider Invasion. It's a decent enough road movie, with some surprises in the cast (Joe Dante, Sylvester Stallone, Martin Scorsese make brief appearances) and car stunts.