Daniel DiManna
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Car-Sploitation Movie Spotlight: ‘Speedtrap’ (1977)

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A rusty old car sitting under the sun
Joe Don Baker is back. And this time, he’s driving considerably faster…
Photo: dave_7 via CC

A while back on The News Wheel, I penned an article discussing the lethargic chase scene from the movie Mitchell. In that film, the title character is played by character actor Joe Don Baker, a veteran of films both good and bad. As it turns out, Mitchell wasn’t his only 1970s exploitation flick involving cars. In fact, 1977’s Speedtrap is far more of a car-centric movie than Mitchell ever was. That being the case, I think it’s high time it got some recognition.

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A look at ‘Speedtrap’

In Mitchell, Joe Don Baker played a lackadaisical cop assigned to solve a murder case. In Speedtrap, Baker shakes things up a bit by playing a lackadaisical investigator assigned to solve a car-theft case. There’s the usual police drama, including a chief who’s not too keen on Baker’s involvement, and an officer who happens to be Baker’s ex-girlfriend. Basically, if you’ve ever seen any of the roughly 20,000 made-for-TV crime dramas made in the 70s, you know what’s up.

Where this film gets entertaining is in its crazy and memorable chase scenes. Again, there’s not too much here that hasn’t been done before, but it’s still a fun time. A lot of the film is a series of extended police chases with the car thief attempting to flee justice. And yes, a lot of that chasing culminates in catastrophic collisions. The film has plenty of crashes, smashes, and even a few explosions to keep viewers interested. At one point, there’s a big police car pileup that wrecks quite a few vintage vehicles. In a particularly memorable moment, the film’s car-stealing thief, nicknamed “Road Runner,” literally jumps his getaway car from the top of one building to another. It’s crazy, and it’s a blast to watch.

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If you’re a fan of old-school car-chase flicks, Joe Don Baker movies, in-camera car stunts, or all of the above, track down Speedtrap and give it a watch.