August 8, 2019

WHITE LINE FEVER: Viva la Vincent!
Starring Jan-Michael Vincent, Kay Lenz, Slim Pickens, L.Q. Jones, Sam Laws, Dick Miller, R.G. Armstrong, Martin Kove, Don Porter. Directed by Jonathan Kaplan. (90 min)

Review by Mr. Paws😽

For a lot of people, the late Jan-Michael Vincent is most-associated with the TV show, Airwolf. But movie lovers of a certain age might recall the previous decade, when he was supposed to be the next big thing.

That never really happened, of course, partially due to his own unfortunate life choices, but also because none of the films featuring Vincent’s name above the title did his career any favors. Not that they all sucked, but most were B-movies  destined for two-week runs at drive-ins and suburban multiplexes. While he never made any classics, a lot of ‘em eventually became mainstays on HBO, and later, the shelves of mom & pop video stores (typically in the action/adventure section).

That’s the Jan-Michael Vincent I remember and White Line Fever is emblematic of his ‘70s heyday. Neither his best nor worst, the film nevertheless evokes fond memories of spending Saturdays at the Southgate, a quad cinema within biking distance near my house. This disc’s retro-VHS artwork will stir even more nostalgic warm fuzzies for anyone who ever spent entire weekends in their living room with a stack of 2-day rentals (where Vincent was always best appreciated).

"No, you may NOT hang your coat!"
White Line Fever is one of those good ol’ boy trucker tales calculated to appeal to the same demographic whose clothing choices likely resemble those of the movie’s characters. Vincent plays Carrol Jo Hummer, a young driver fighting corruption in the trucking business, putting himself and his wife (Kay Lenz) in danger. In the meantime, he earns the respect and support of fellow disgruntled truckers. True to the genre, we get the required allotment of beer drinkin’, fist fightin’, shotgun blastin’ and semi crashin’, all set to a guitar twangin’ soundtrack.

The film is chock-full of recognizable character actors playing guys with names like Pops, Buck, Birdie and Clem. Vincent himself never really possessed a lot of range, but he’s likable enough in a role that mostly requires him to get mad and get even. White Line Fever is simple, silly and doesn’t bare a hell of a lot of scrutiny, but it ain’t like the film was ever vying for the Palme d’Or. Aspiring to be nothing more than a good bit of lowbrow fun, it delivers with a minimum of muss and fuss. Kind-of an oddball ending, though.

Mill Creek Entertainment has previously released White Line Fever on Blu-ray plenty of times before, either as a stand-alone feature or bundled with similar films (like the recent 9 Lives Movie Collection). Furthermore, this release has no additional bonus features. But what old school film fan can resist the wonderful packaging of Mill Creek’s growing Retro Blu-ray line-up? Since it features a bygone star from a bygone era, White Line Fever is most-certainly worthy of inclusion. Though he’s no longer with us, I suspect Jan-Michael Vincent would approve.

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