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Film Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

 

Citizens Band
Directed by Jonathan Demme
Paramount Home Video 09/77 DVD/VHS Feature Film
PG

It is estimated that there are now over 30 million citizens band radio users in the United States. This handy communications medium has created a whole new way for people to relate to one another on a one-to-one basis. It has been used for everything from disaster relief to avoiding speeding tickets to advertising or preaching the Gospel. Some of these users are reflected in Citizens Band, an engaging and modest movie about how individuals in a small town are drawn together through their CBs.

Paul Le Mat is Spider, an earnest young man who answers the distress calls which come over channel nine on the CB. When his work is hindered by wave-jammers, he goes on a crusade to clean up the Band; he is especially fed up with the Red Baron, the Hustler, and the Priest. Candy Clerk is featured as a bored schoolteacher who is carrying on amorous affairs with Spider, his brother the high school coach (Bruce McGill), and — verbally over the CB — with "Warlock" (Will Seltzer).

Another strand of the story centers around trucker Harold Rissley (Charles Napier) and his relationship with a prostitute (Alix Elias). He sets her up with a mobile van and a CB unit so she can keep up with the times. But their affair is interrupted by the arrival of his two wives from two different cities (Marcia Rodd and Ann Wedgeworth). The bigamist must work out a treaty amenable to all.

The zany characters in Citizens Band are quite loveable thanks to the delightful screenplay by Paul Brickman. There are no cartoon characters here. In the end, all come together for a Search and Rescue mission, communicating over their CBs, this community works together to find Spider's elderly and drunk father (Roberts Blossom). Jonathan Demme's direction is both light-fingered and disciplined. The result is a warmly satisfying human comedy that introduces us to the wonderful subculture of CB while entertaining us in a winning way.

 

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Reviews and database copyright 1970 2012
by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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