Movie of the Week – Moonfire

Take a moment to read the synopsis from the 1970 trucking movie, Moonfire.

Trucker Robert Morgan unknowingly becomes involved in a blackmail plot. He battles a Nazi who is hiding in Mexico. The subplot involves the disappearance of a reclusive billionaire.

Sounds like prime Mystery Science Theater 3000 material to me! On the face of things this movie just appears to be another goofy poor mans action flick made in the ’70’s with plenty of questionable acting, strange editing and major plot holes. Most wouldn’t give this movie a second thought after reading the description above but Moonfire is not without a few redeeming qualities, namely the vintage trucking action.

One of the major stars of the movie is Charles Naiper. You may not know him by name but you have probably seen a movie in which he played a role. Remember the leader of the “Good Ol Boys” country group from the Blues Brother? Our friend Charles. He also saw screen time in Rambo: First Blood Part II, Silence of the Lambs and Austin Powers.

But as engaging as Naiper may be he is over shadowed (I kid) by the dominate roles played by two 1970 Mack trucks, a FL-700 and a RS-712 LST. You can see the two tone RS on the far left of the screenshot below

Now, unlike other Hollywood trucking movies somebody on this movie had real trucking experience and a love for big rigs. It shows in the many small scenes that add nothing to the movie but get diesel lovers like myself all worked up. For instance, a scene devoted to steam cleaning an engine. Or another in which we watch air tanks drain. If you don’t know or like trucks these would mean nothing to you but someone felt the need to include them in the final film. The certainly help to add authentically. I like it.

Back to the trucks. The RS must have been an expensive setup in its day. Aluminum wheels up front, daytons out back, two tone paint job and of course, two sticks! The movie is loaded with great interior shots of the trucks while on the road that include numerous scenes of shifting the twin sticks in the RS and FL. There is even a cool shot at the start of the movie in which Naiper reaches through the steering wheel to shift which only bolsters the claim that he learned how to drive a semi truck for this very role.

One thing I enjoy about old movies like Moonfire is their ability to function as a time machine. Seeing as this movie is centered around truckers and their rides there are numerous extended scenes at trucks stops and interstates of days past. Half the time I wasn’t even paying attention to the main dialog as I was too busy eyeballing the background scenery.

As cheesy as this movie can be at times it really tries hard to be a decent action flick and it tries even harder to provide an accurate view of a truckers daily life. In particular there is a scene in which our stars are pulled over and questioned by what I can only assume are DOT staff. Per the formula both officers are totally incompetent and power hungry. Naiper explodes on them demanding to know how much more he can be taxed, how much more paper work can be generated before enough is enough. All gripes that still echo around truck stops to this very day! Sounds like the more things change the more they stay the same.

Some of my favorite quotes from the movie.

He can rebuild a triplex transmission, at midnight, in January, in Alaska!

Truck drivers don’t ask questions. They’re paid to steer, load, unload, and keep their mouths shut!

You’re not fat enough to be a real truck driver.

If you like MST3K quality movies, watch this. If you enjoy old trucks, watch this. For everyone else, think twice. The plot mentioned above is loosely followed, characters come and go for no reason.

If you want to skip to right to the best truck related scenes here  you go.

  • Roughly the 43 mintue mark, both Macks pull out of truck stop. Gratuitous chrome wheel and cab shots.
  • 1 hr and 10 minute mark: long scene of both trucks driving along steep canyon roads, washed out desert roads, high speeds, CB use.
  • 1 hr and 42 minute mark: end of the movie, off road trucking

You can watch this movie in its entirety FREE on Youtube. That’s right, the entire movie, all 1 hour and 47 minutes of it with only limited commerical interuption. Click here.

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3 Responses to Movie of the Week – Moonfire

  1. T-man says:

    I’m a bit surprised that no one has mentioned this yet. The movie Moonfire was the brainchild of Mike Parkhurst of Overdrive Magazine. Yeah, it was as cheesy as it gets, but like you say, the shots of those old classic rigs is worth it. My wife suffered through it by making lots of snide remarks about the terrible plot, lack of acting ability and that one guys jumpsuit!
    Mr. Parkhurst went on to be the main procurer of trucks for the Smoky and the Bandit movie series and has written a screenplay that he’s trying to get made into a movie today. Unfortunately, like Moonfire, it’s long on technical stuff that truckers would get but Joe Public wouldn’t care about or understand.
    The name of it is “Semi-Justice”. It’s available to read through Amazon.

    • Eric says:

      Very interesting. We need more trucking movies.

    • Yes, T-Man, I am “the” Mike Parkhurst, founder and long-time editor/publisher and sole owner of Overdrive magazine. Also published a slick-papered publication called RoadMasters in the 1990s and in 2004 produced a 100-page magazine
      called, again, RoadMasters inasmuch as I stupidly transferred my Overdrive to
      Randall Publishing of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Speaking of films, I was also in
      complete charge of a million-dollar advertising/marketing campaign for the
      hit trucking movie “White Line Fever” and was heavily involved in the Stallone
      arm-wrestling/trucker movie “Over The Top.” I was also involved in two
      TV specials, “Truckin’ in Nashville” (A country/western musical special) and
      “Falling For the Stars” a documentary about stunts in Hollywood. I also supplied trucks and some technical advice for 8 trucking movies for the big screen and TV as well as the NBC series “Movin’ On.” I am flattered, frankly,
      that someone knows about my Semi Justice film project which, unlike a comment that non-truckers probably wouldn’t be interested, carries a lot of
      interest for the general public inasmuch as I bring out how much oil there is in the world. The truckers, naturally, are heroes of the movie as they are in my
      E-book, “Semi Justice — Digging OPEC’s Grave.” Just go on the Amazon search bar and you can see the great cover of the book and read, for free, about 15 pages of the book. I was in my late 20s when I created “Moonfire,”
      and it was self-financed from the profits of “Overdrive.” While compared to
      most of today’s action movies it was bland, with not a lot of action and only two
      deaths, my purpose was to make truckers the heroes of the story, which in a
      sense is what I have always done when I first thought of starting a magazine for truckers when I became an owner-operator at the age of 19. In any case,
      if anyone wants to read my book, he/she doesn’t need to have Kindle but can
      read it on ANY computer. It costs, wow, the astronomical sum of $5.99 per copy. If any trucker wants to read a paper and bound copy which I will personally autograph, it costs a lot more, $42 including Priority Mail shipping.
      Therefore, if someone wants to fork over that kind of dough, they must
      leave a message and phone number and I will call back to verify. That number is (424) 603-6122. And I would appreciate whoever came up with the
      Daily Diesel Dose web site to call me as well as anyone who took the time to
      read this. Since half of my bloodstream is diesel fuel and the other half is ink,
      I feel I will be around to kick some butt for quite a while. And, by the way, although the ENTIRE TRUCKING INDUSTRY is a hero in my screenplay and
      book, not a single rich truck fleet owner that I’ve contacted is interested in putting up a penny to get it made even though I have a distribution contract signed by one of the biggest and most famous film distributors. Why? They have no imagination . . . and that process is almost worth a book, believe me!
      Take care, and, again, to save you searching for my phone number here it is
      again: (424) 603-6122. Happy Trails! Mike Parkhurst

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