(director/writer: Robert Zemeckis; screenwriter: Bob Gale; cinematographer: Donald M. Morgan; editor: Michael Kahn; music: Patrick Williams; cast: Jack Warden (Roy L. Fuchs/Luke Fuchs), Kurt Russell (Rudy Russo), Dick Miller (Man in Bed), Betty Thomas(Bunny), Dub Taylor (Tucker), Al Lewis (Judge Harrison), Michael McKean (Eddie Winslow), Joseph P. Flaherty (Sam Slaton), David L. Lander, (Freddie Paris),Deborah Harmon (Barbara Fuchs), Frank McRae (Jim the Mechanic), Gerrit Graham (Jeff), Michael Talbot (Mickey); Runtime: 103; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Bob Gale; Sony Pictures Home Entertainment; 1980)

It has some raunchy fun pillaging used car salesmen as untrustworthy.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A funny but absurd screwball comedy, in the mode of Animal House. It’s directed with a flair for slapstick by Robert Zemeckis (“Forrest Gump”/”Cast Away”), and is co-written by him and Bob Gale. It has some raunchy fun pillaging used car salesmen as untrustworthy. During its theater release it received a poor box-office but has grown in popularity over the years and now has a good reputation as a cult classic. Twin brothers Luke Fuchs and Roy L. Fuchs (both played by Jack Warden) are competing used car dealers in the Southwest, who own lots just across the road from each other. The mercenary Roy schemes to get his good-natured brother’s property and thereby consolidate the business before an unknown upcoming freeway overhead pass is built across his lot and ruins his business. Luke has his new mechanic (Michael Talbott), a former demolition derby driver, test drive one of the weak-hearted Luke’s cars and takes him for a daredevil ride that causes him to have a heart attack and die. Luke’s two unscrupulous salesmen, the fast-talking Rudy Russo (Kurt Russell) and the ladies man Jeff (Gerrit Graham), bury Luke on the grounds of the lot and tell folks Luke’s on vacation in Miami Beach. Barbara (Deborah Harmon), Luke’s estranged hippie daughter, returns to see her father after ten years absence and wants to make up. Russo fails to tell her the truth, and schemes to have her inherit her dad’s place so Ralph doesn’t get it. Meanwhile he pursues his dream to buy from the political machine the post of state senator. The outrageous schemes involve Russo illegally cutting into a televised football game and into President Carter’s TV speech with commercials of his car lot and of Roy using his bought politician (Joseph P. Flaherty) to get him favor with the courts. The broad black comedy might be tasteless but it’s energetic and has more to say that is true about how venal American businesses can be than maybe one would like to admit.

Used Cars Poster