Lost gem packed with good performances especially from Joan Collins as the alcoholic wife of bus driver Rick Jason. A small group of passengers ride Jason’s junker of a bus on a fifty mile run from Rebel Corners,Southern California to the mission at San Juan. If you’re looking for a good drama then definitely check this one out.
The day started peaceful until Johnny Chicoy (Rick Jason) and his wife Alice (Joan Collins) argue about her love of booze and money. They run a small cafe and Johnny drives an independent bus on the run to San Juan. This will be his last trip as a major company is taking over the route.
Another bus drops the passengers off. They’re novelty salesman Ernest Horton (Dan Dailey), stripper Camille Oakes (Jayne Mansfield), uptight married couple Elliot (Larry Keating) and Bernice Pritchard along with their daughter Mildred and the self important local Van Brunt. Also along for the ride are counter girl Norma who wants to get into the movies and Ed “Pimples” Carson, a college kid who has been helping around the cafe.
It doesn’t rake long for Elliot to start hitting on Camille. He thinks she looks familiar. He doesn’t get anywhere since he has to join Bernice at a table. Johnny and Alice are fighting in another room and he packs a bag like he won’t be back, Camille makes a phone call about her next gig when she’s informed there’s a magazine with an expose about her. She finds a copy on the magazine rack. She tells everyone she’s a nurse in a dentists office.
Despite a warning over the radio about a bad storm in the area Johnny drives the bus anyway. Ernest flirts with Camille and Mildred flirts with Johnny. Things are going okay until a mudslide nearly wipes them out. The highway patrol flies over in a chopper and lets Johnny know the road to San Juan is closed. At a general store Johnny calls Alice to make amends only to find her drunk. He decides to go fifteen miles out of the way to head for San Juan. The road is nicknamed washboard because that’s what it feels like to drive over it.
Johnny comes to a bridge that has had it in the rain and overflowing river. This is a great sequence as the passengers walk to the other side while Johnny tries to navigate over the bridge. Thanks to help from Carson he makes it. Meanwhile back at the cafe the helicopter pilot is trying to make it with Alice. She’s having none of that.
Johnny walks two miles to a farmer’s place to get a tractor to pull the bus out of the mud. A note on the door says he won’t be back until five. He waits in the barn and then in walks Mildred. Back by the bus more drama unfolds among the passengers. There’ll be a surprise waiting for Johnny when he gets back.
Good adaption of the John Steinbeck novel. It also has some excellent special effects during the rainstorm sequences.
Rick Jason is best known to TV fans as Lt.Gil Hanley on “Combat” (1962-67).
Larry Keating was Harry Morton on “The George Burns And Gracie Allen Show” and next door neighbor Roger Addison on “Mister Ed.”