Have Cheetah,Will View #308 – “The Gumball Rally” (1976)

Its 1:50 am


I was sleeping and dreaming of 90 degrees weather when I was woken up by the cheetah. He climbed on top of me,dropped a BluRay on my head and said “Gumball”.
My eyes opened up,I looked at him and said “Gumball”? He nodded his sleek head and after a shower and making some coffee,we dashed to the living off to see what our deep cover C.I. at Warner Brothers Archive had gifted us with.

I saw “The Gumball Rally” only once and that was mostly when it came on TV back in 1979 when ABC aired it. I only remember one of the stars,Michael Sarrazin,because at that time,he was a bit of a big thing in Hollywood.
After watching the movie I realized two things,I can’t write my usual format in talking about the plot because well,there really ISN’T one other then the “Gumball Rally” is about a 3,000 mile road race from New York City to Long Beach,California and it features various teams in different cars (and a motorcycle) driving non-stop across the country.

Michael Bannon (Sarrazin) is a executive in New York City who has also been one of the organizers of the Rally which is held every year. There are no rules,no cash prize and the only thing the winners get is a gumball machine trophy full of,well…you already know.

When Bannon sends out the word “Gumball”,all interested parties have a set time to bring themselves and their cars to a secret location where they are told about the race and they also get a day to prep their cars. The drivers draw starting slots and at 6:00 am,the race begins.

A Los Angeles cop named Roscoe has been trying to stop Bannon for years and when he gets word of this year’s race,he flies to New York to try and stop it.  Bannon and his friend and friendly rival Smitty (Tim McIntire) flip a coin to see who will deal with Roscoe and Bannon loses but he does stop the frustrated cop in classic action.
With Roscoe down but not out,various teams then proceed to race to Long Beach…..


That is basically the movie…but what makes “The Gumball Rally” such a hoot is its cast and super wicked score which was done famed composer Dominic Frontiere. Frontiere did countless of film scores and TV scores,most for Aaron Spelling,which included series like “Vega$”.

Because the plot was so thin,”Rally” really had to rely on its pretty amazing cast. There are a lot of well known and familiar faces that pop up throughout the movie that many older folks like myself will instantly know….of course I was pretty surprised when I saw them….like Raul Julia who plays Smitty’s co-driver Franco who also happens to be a Italian racing champion with a fondness for beautiful ladies. Raul Julia would go on to a great career that ended much too soon.

Gary Busey (pre-motorcycle accident) is a stunt car driver who almost drives his co-driver nuts with his antics. He was very funny here and very charming actually.
Long time fans of the soap opera “The Bold and the Beautiful” will be pleasantly surprised to see none other then Stephanie Forrester herself behind the wheel of a Porsche. Susan Flannery and Joanne Nail play the only women racers and they more then hold their own in the race.

The racing action and crazy stunts are all top notch,it helps that director Chuck Bail also was a famed stunt coordinator to boot. My favorite part of the film features Franco and Bannon racing down the Los Angeles river basin,Bannon is driving a Cobra while Franco is driving a Ferrari and its a wonderfully filmed sequence. I was a little surprised at how well those high performance cars handled all that water,the channel was not dry in the slightest.
The ending is also quite funny and leaves the viewer on a bit of a cliffhanger as well…

There are actual gumball rallies across the United States,while most are confined to state level and at safe speeds,one wonders if somewhere right now isn’t whispering “Gumball”.

“The Gumball Rally” is 1 hour 47 minutes long and has no special features. It is rated “PG” but its a little salty.
You can pick up a copy of this BluRay release by going to the website of the Warner Brothers Archive.

The cheetah and I both enjoyed this quite a bit and we recommend it by giving a thumbs/paw straight up!

What movie that features a car race or car chase is your favorite,well let us know by dropping us a comment below!!


4 thoughts on “Have Cheetah,Will View #308 – “The Gumball Rally” (1976)

  1. This and Paul Bartel’s Cannonball came out about the same time with somewhat different takes on the cross country race theme.

    I was lucky my father liked Gumball Rally enough that I was able to get him and take me and some friends to the R rated Cannonball.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. When I saw “Gumball Rally” at first I was thinking about James Caan. But Caan’s movie was Rollerball. I don’t think I ever saw all of Gumball Rally, though, but I think I remember parts of it. I was a kid and–sexism aside, ’cause I’m only talking about myself, not all of womenhood–a girl, and I didn’t care about cars and especially men driving cars.

    But from the way you describe it–the cast and the great score–I think I’d probably really enjoy it now, as an adult. And I definitely like seeing movies that were filmed during the ’70s for the nostalgia and all the memories…………… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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