NOTE: This Spoiler was sent in by Convoy34 who reminds us that the film is "based on the 1976 song by C.W. McCall, although song was remade for the movie."
Opening credits over background, with camera shifting left, of highway in the middle of White Sands, New Mexico. In the distance, heat vapors, a black vehicle can be seen. Close up and sides shots of Black Mack Truck with tanker (driven by Kris Kristofferson). Coming up from behind fast is a red Jaguar. (driven by Ali MacGraw) (C.W. McCall's Convoy new version 1st verse plays) The red Jaguar drives up fast along side the truck and speeds up ahead in front but then slows down causing RD to slow down, she looks at her hair in her mirror. He hits his air horn she jolts to the side of the truck again to look the the trucker. She picks up her camera and takes photos of him while he looks down between in legs (whom is wearing shorts).
On the opposite end of the road a state trooper approaches but neither RD or nor she notices him until the last minute. The state trooper quickly slides off the road, turns on his lights and sirens and follows up behind the truck, RD slows down and stops on the side while the red Jaguar stops ahead about 100 feet. She laughs, as a pissed off Rubber Duck deals with the state trooper. The trooper tells RD he's going to write him up for speeding and reckless driving. RD replies the red Jaguar ahead got in his way, slow him down and also is driving nude. The trooper rushing to get back to his car to go after her tells RD he's letting him go this time and to be careful as he was to try and score with the nude driver of a red Jaguar.
RD gets back in his truck and quickly gets a "bear" warning out on the C.B. Pig Pen/Love Machine (Burt Young) replies gratefully and a C.B. lingo conversation begins along with Spider Mike (Franklin Ajaye) at the back door. The convoy is now three trucks when a fourth voice joins the cb conversation calling himself Cottonmouth (Ernest Borgnine). When RD asks for a bear report Cottonmouth and replies "ain't a bear in sight she's all clean and green bringem on up". RD informs him apparently he's the new front door (front truck) of the convoy and the three begin to pick up speed to join this fourth voice. The convoy is up to 75mph when they come up on over cornering hill and RD quickly grabs the cb mic "backem down, backem down we got a bear in a plain brown rapper" (cop in a unmarked car on the side of the road). The trucks pull over very angry they got suckered into a speed trap. But when RD approaches the cop he's is completely stunned. It's Dirty Lyle Wallace, a local abusive Sheriff who wrote him up a ticket six years ago. Lyle informs all three truckers he's charging them $50 each for speeding but after both Pig Pen and Spider Mike insult his weight and speed trap Lyle raises the fee to $70. They pay the fine and get back on the road. RD tells them to quiet down their anger and to pull in to a truck stop for lunch. RD calls the diner on the cb them their on their way.
After parking and heading for the diner, RD notices a mechanic working on the red Jaguar almost helped him get a ticket. RD enters the diner to a half a dozen chants of "hey Duck". RD walks over to a table where his girlfriend Violet is and kisses her, they both fall backward as he reunions with a another trucker Black Widow (Madge Sinclair). Widow introduces him to Melissa (Ali MacGraw). RD asks what happen to her XKE. She claims to have sold it (it broke down) and she also tells the other girls "this is the one I told you about, the one who told the cop I was nude driving". Widow informs RD thats Melissa needs a ride and smitten conversation leads later ride. Violet tells Duck she has a birthday suprise for him and leads him out to his truck. Violet brushes RD off thinking he's smitten with Melissa. Pig Pen and Spider Mike introduce themselves and offer a truck ride to Melissa but Widows tells them "she's got a ride with the Duck".
After RD and Violet climb into his truck for his birthday present, Dirty Lyle arrives at the diner. He begins circling/searching for the three truckers, which two (Pig Pen/Spider Mike) begin mouthing off on the cb about Lyle's weight and dirty tactics. But Lyle suddenly stops just outside the front of the diner and their cb fun stops abruptly. Lyle quickly parks and the two truckers sign off. The truckers go eat their lunch as Lyle walks in looking for RD. Black Widow gets on the cb quietly to get RD in the diner that Lyle is got a mean face on. Lyle begins to harass Mike knowing he does not have any money since he lost it to the speed trap ticket. Lyle orders him to stand up from his chair. RD rushes back in the diner and goes to gather Mike, Pig Pen and tries to calm down Lyle. Lyle pushes RD back as Mike exclaims Lyle's crazy if he's gonna try pressing a vagrancy charge, "my wife's having a baby man, I gotta get home". Lyle gives an abusive reply back to Mike, Mike replies by punching him Lyle falls down backward. Lyle pulls out his gun and RD kicks him in the facing knocking him out. After RD handcuffs Lyle to a stool, they go to leave but two state trooper's walk in and draw their guns. The trooper who RD and Melissa ran off the road at the beginning is one of them. He questions Melissa where she got off to since he propositioned her instead of a ticket. Melissa goes to leave but the trooper stops her. When she tells him to let go, this distraction gives Mike an open shot and he smashes a ketchup bottle over the second trooper's gun hand. A diner brawl between the two state troopers and five truckers begin. Other diner patrons (families & truckers) and staff watch the fight.
Eventually the truckers over take the two state troopers. The truckers leave and begin to damage the state troopers patrol cars (smashing their windshields and pulling out the spark plug wires). RD walks to his truck (Violet gets out/Melissa climbs in), a truckers asks him where he's going. RD replies "state line". Several trucks agree to follow, the convoy grows to dozens of trucks. After the trucks leave, scene switches back in diner as Violet walks back in. Lyle wakes up and yells for tools to break the cuffs from the stool. Violet offers a nail file Lyle replies "eh a nail file, well you know what you can do with your nail file". Lyle pulls out his gun and begins shooting the stool's pole. Violet yells to Lyle to stop firing. She walks up, sits down on a stool and pulls off the seat to Lyle is cuff to. The entire diner smiles at the embarrassment.
Lyle walks out and is disgusted the truckers ripped apart the trooper's cars. He begins yelling for someone to give him a car. He finds one, two young people are sitting in smoking pot. They see Lyle yelling/running toward them and put the pot in the mouths. Lyle gets to their door and yells at them what their doing. They reply nothing as he kicks them both out and races away after the truckers. RD offers Melissa some coffee, as they approach an old couple in a very old fashion Model T Ford type car, she is disgusted by the disregard for others vehicles as they go around the old folks at high speed. RD then gets on the cb and tells the convoy he's looking for road which is an old back way in New Mexico. They approach a town and run into a four way intersection. But as Black Widow makes her turn a sonic boom is heard (most likely she blew a tire) and he rig over turns smacking into a car stopped at a yield sign. The convoy stops, RD opens his door and looks out to see if she is ok. Pig Pen, Pack Rat and White Rat stop and pull her out of her truck. She is ok but kicks her truck "damn piece of white junk I knew I should of bought my self a black truck". She looks at the Rat brothers and tells them she's riding with them. RD calls on on the cb to see if she's ok, she replies she's ok but has a black eye. Lyle comes across the over turned truck and laughs "thats one!"
Lyle reaches them and goes side by side of RD's truck. RD tells Melissa to get him a shirt in the sleeper part of his truck but she loses her balance and falls against RD and the steering wheel. RD ends up siding against Lyle running him off the road. Lyle veers off the road, smashing thru a road sign and crashing thru the top of a farm barn ending in damaging landing. The other truckers soon realize that was Lyle. RD calls him on the cb and ask him if he needs help. Lyle, beaten up but alive, yells back on the car's cb he's gonna call for more law enforcement to go after the convoy. RD ignores him but Melissa realizes she is now an accessory. Melissa gathers her things and asks followed by demands to be let out of the truck. RD replies by reaching over and opening her door "were being chased, you want out jump". She slams the door rants on his ego but begins to explain he's not young but experienced.
Lyle is getting himself together following the crash and is met by another state trooper named Bob Bookman and tells Lyle he hates truckers. Lyle and Bookman race off after the convoy and are joined by two other patrol cars to chase after the convoy. RD informs finds the dirt road/back way in New Mexico, the patrol cars follow but all all their driving creates a kind of dirt storm which hinders the patrol cars driving (one even turns over), as well as the convoy's sights. The convoy and Lyle/Bookman's car survive the dirt road and follow behind. They reach the convoy but are held back by Spider Mike who swings his truck left and right. Mike gets on the cb says he's gonna let them by between himself and Pig Pen. Lyle and Bookman go to pass thru then Pig Pen and Mike slowly come together and sandwich the state trooper's car. After the car stops and the convoy continues on Lyle calls for help in the next town, Chief Stacey Love of NM replies. The convoy reaches the New Mexico state border.
As the convoy begins passing thru NM, others truckers call on the cb and ask to join. Among them Big Nasty and a bull load of Jesus followers (Jesus freaks) led by Reverend Sloane. RD welcomes them and hopes they can offer religious backup. The Reverend replies "I've never read any thing in scripture that says thou shall not put the petal to the metal and calls RD "Brother Rubber". Several more truckers join the convoy. Melissa asks RD asks why the other truckers call him "the duck". RD replies "because my daddy said always be like a duck, glide smooth on the surface and paddle like the devil underneath" (CW McCall's new version of convoy verse two plays). Then a chopper is spotted over head. Spider Mike alerts RD "hey duck, there's a bear in the air", RD looks out his window and up.
In the chopper an FBI agent, one with info on the trucks and Lyke are aboard. The FBI agent calls on their radio down to the convoy and orders them to stop, the convoy refuses to answer. Then he calls RD by his real name "attention driver Martin Penwall", RD and Melissa laugh at his real name. Lyle tells the FBI agent he has to talk to the truckers in their own language. The agent tries but does not do it right. The agent hands the mic to Lyle. Lyle talks in cb lingo calling RD but with very abusive words. RD replies to not use foul language and not insult his truck. Lyle continues his abuse then informs the convoy a road block with 20 armed troopers are waiting ahead (scene shows patrols cars, cops with guns drawn and Chief Stacey Love standing in front of the wooden road block). RD replies to look on the signs of the side of his tanker and that he's carrying explosive chemicals. The third person on the chopper confirms this to Lyle and the FBI Agent . At first Lyle claims its a bluff, the FBI agent screams on the radio to remove the road block or their will be a terrible explosion. There is no reply from the ground due to their too busy moving the patrol cars. But the wooden road block and one patrol car are still in the way.
Lyle then screams on the mic to ground patrols to move! The convoy reaches the road block and RD smashes thru the wood as well as strike a patrol car, Melissa passes out in the sleeper part of his truck. No explosion occurs. RD smiles and blows sigh of relief. Chief Stacey Love exclaims his town is in trouble and to get someone to waive traffic control to let the convoy thru. Chief Love is slowed down by a very slow moving water spraying truck. The convoy enters town with towns people cheering them on and a high school music band playing in support. An old man in a golf cart, calling himself 18 wheeler Eddie, calls the convoy on a cb asking to join they agree, he does'nt tell him about the golf cart.
After leaving the town back on to the highway, a reporter with a camera crew watch the convoy and explain they have grown so large you can't see the end and will ask them why they are together and their purpose. Chuck Arnoldi (Brian Davies) the press representative for the Governor of NM standing in the back of a pick up truck with a camera crew (director Sam Peckinpah's cameo as a sound gaffer) drives up along RD's truck and ask him about the convoy. RD tells him to ask the others why they are apart of the convoy. Chuck Arnoldi interviews about eight truckers. They talk about how rough life is when high gas/oil prices, smokey's with their speeding tickets and political corruption causing the countries problems. Some truckers even become kinda violent (Pig Pen nearly rams his truck into the camera truck) and raunchy (a truck pulls his pants down at the camera, while another talks to Chuck like he is a kid) in their interviews.
Chuck returns to talk to RD and claims to understand the truckers problems. Chuck then says the Governor of NM wants to talk to them and has set a side of field the truckers can pull over and rest. RD refuses to believe it having to protect the security of this fellow truckers. But Chuck informs RD, off camera, that the Governor has been requested to bring out the National Guard to stop the convoy. RD agrees to the meeting. As night falls on the convoy, Spider Mike informs the other truckers he got news his wife is getting ready to give birth and has to head home now and leave the convoy. RD (sadly) as well as other truckers say goodbye to Mike. He pulls off to another highway but RD sees he's headed into a rough area for a black trucker.
The truckers have stopped at the field, rest/shower and get to together with other people. Melissa is taking a shower next to Widow as a newspaper reporter tells her he like to buy her story on the convoy. She agrees but it will cost him. RD approaches Melissa and they go off to talk about their possible future. RD invites her to discuss their possible relationship in his truck. They look at each other, kina smitten, but she's just rests. Pig Pen knocks on his truck door to talk. RD talks with Pig Pen as he gets ready to meet with the New Mexico Governor. The NM's Governor's arrives by chopper and meets with a hand shake. "Jerry Haskens (Seymour Cassel), Duck". They go into a private tent and discuss the future of the convoy. But instead the Governor Haskens informs RD not to return to NM if any agreements or problems are solved. He also says he will take RD to Washington DC as a representative of the people.
What no one knows about is that Lyle and a cop, Tiny Alverez, have captured Spider Mike holding him in a jail cell and appear to have beaten him badly. Lyle tells him he's holding him as bait for RD to come for him. Tiny ask Lyle if RD will come with the convoy, Lyle doesnt believe he will because he made it personal taking Mike hostage. Later on Tiny's jail custodian tells Mike he will get him help. He calls on cb "breaker one-nine, emergency ten-33", a trucker replies and he tells him "I need message relayed west to the Rubber Duck and the convoy". (Scenes switches back and forth between trucks and the New Mexico field where the convoy still is) The truckers relay the message that Spider Mike is in Trucker's Hell and Lyle/Tiny beat him up.
When word of what happened to Mike reaches the convoy, Black Widow/Melissa/Pig Pen/Big Nasty and others rush into the tent where RD and the Governor are. Widow exclaims "They got Mike, they got Spider Mike". RD wonders why is Lyle is in Texas. All the truckers yell they'll go get Mike. The Governor exclaims them to calm down but tells them "I can't just pluck criminals out of jail" and but when he tells the truckers you sometimes to sacrifice one for the common good, they all tell him to go to hell. RD tells them he's going and tells Melissa/Pig Pen to get from the Governor what they can. RD leaves the field on his way to get Mike.
Other truckers slowly follow pursuit. At dawn RD's truck approaches from the edge of town. Lyle and Tiny are scene playing cards in his office. Then RD looks at his side mirror and sees/hears several trucks approaching from behind. They line up side by side RD's truck, nine total! RD and the others rev their engines to inform Lyle the convoy is here. Lyle and Tiny get out of their seats and walk outside. (CW McCall's new version of Convoy, but a verse not heard or written in soundtrack plays). Lyle and Tiny see RD and Pig Pen's trucks approach. But then hear more trucks from another direction "I thought you said he was coming alone. I'll be seeing ya Lyle" Tiny gets in his car and runs off leaving Lyle by himself. Lyle yells at Tiny to come back. As Tiny tries to get out of town, the truckers smash thru buildings and walls and many times nearly run into and over Tiny. RD and Pig Pen quickly approach the jail. Lyle runs back in the office to grab a rifle but they are locked up. Lyle gets on a phone to call an operator but gets no answer. RD and Pig Pen make a sharp turn and smash thru the jail's office. Mike gets up hearing the crash. Lyle, RD and Pig Pen recover from the crash and have a shown down. Widow and Pig Pen release Mike from the jail cell. Lyle questions RD "I knew you'd come but I never figured you need help too". RD tells him he came by himself, the others came on along later. The conversation gets hotter with back and forth insults and then Lyle threatens if he had a gun he'd shoot RD. RD replies "And that badge would make it all right wouldnt." RD finally sees Mike, RD lunges to beat Lyle thinking he did that, but Mike says it was Tiny not Lyle. RD wants to drop the whole vendetta but Lyle says won't.
RD pulls out his truck out of the jail and the convoy reforms on the highway. RD tells the convoy "anyone don't like the sound of Mexico, speak up". The other truckers have no problem it. The convoy approaches the apparent border to Mexico with a bridge going over a river. RD's truck gets ahead but Pig Pen in second place of the convoy is slow down by a school bus letting children out and a ice cream truck. He almost refuses to stop and pulls his air horn. Pig Pen stops but bangs into the ice cream truck sending it's vendor flat on the ground and ice cream all over the street. The other trucks can't believe the mess. Chief Stacey Love and other cops approach, with smiles that the convoy has been stopped. RD asks on the cb what happened, Pig Pen explains theres a slight problem but nothing that can't be handled. RD fast approaches the bridge but then stops. Lyle gets on a cb while standing atop a tank which is surrounded by military blocking the opposite side of the bridge. Lyle in cb lingo tells him to get out of truck and it's over. RD tells Melissa to get out of the truck, she refuses but then he orders her out. She slams the truck door, because he wants to play big shot.
RD puts on his mirror sunt glasses and drives ahead for a (final?) show down with Lyle and his army. Tiny informs the army "Ok thats it, it all your Colonel fire when your ready". Lyle tells him on the cb to stop and its over many times. Even Pig Pen calls many times but gets no reply. As RD's truck gets on the bridge, Lyle opens fire with an M-16 spraying bullets over RD's windshield, engine, hood ornament, etc. Melissa is scene running toward the bridge. Then two cops are aim their .38's at the back of RD's tanker. One shot apparently strikes and the tanker explodes in a giant fire ball. RD, apparently releases his sleeper cab from the tank and, turns off the side off the bridge splashing/smashing into the river below. Lyle turns away in shock/sadness, Melissa stops and slowly begins to cry. The front part of RD's truck disappears into the river. The entire town and trucks look in shock at what just happened. The convoy begins one by one and all pull their air horns in lost tribute to the Rubber Duck.
Melissa turns away and scenes cuts to stadium where funeral is being conducted for RD. All truckers including Melissa are wearing black arm bands. The Governor of NM makes a long impressive and solemn eulogy for Rubber Duck. Melissa walks by the bus of Jesus followers and is lead inside by Reverend Sloan. When the Governor nears the end of his eulogy, Melissa finds Rubber Duck (now in a gray beard/hair with a bandana covering an eye) removing his sun glasses. "Quack Quack, you ever see a Duck who couldnt swim". Pig Pen hears the Governor's eulogy become a speech and say he will use the idea/problems of the Rubber Duck and his convoy to Washington. Pig Pen climbs in the truck set that set up as a memorial and takes off with the others following behind. The Governor demands they be stopped and but nothing is done.
As the bus of Jesus followers passes Lyle, also in attendance, he sees RD in a corner window with a thumbs up goodbye. Lyle begins laughing that RD is making a fool out of the Governor. The trucks get back on the highway and reform the convoy. (CW McCall's new version of Convoy plays as full song).
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