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The Big Bus

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Genre  Comedy, Action
Music director  David Shire
Country  United States
5.6/10 IMDb

Director  James Frawley
Initial DVD release  July 16, 2002
Language  English
The Big Bus movie poster
Release date  June 23, 1976
Writer  Fred Freeman, Lawrence J. Cohen
Cast  Joseph Bologna (Dan Torrance), Stockard Channing (Kitty Baxter), John Beck (Shoulders), Rene Auberjonois (Father Kudos), Ned Beatty (Shorty Scotty), Bob Dishy (Dr. Kurtz)
Similar movies  Speed, The Poseidon Adventure, Tidal Wave, Earthquake, Band Baaja Baaraat, The Tower
Tagline  The ride of your life.

The big bus trailer

The Big Bus is a 1976 American comedy film starring Stockard Channing and Joseph Bologna, and directed by James Frawley. A spoof of the disaster movie genre (which was popular at the time), it follows the maiden cross-country trip of an enormous nuclear powered bus named Cyclops.


The Big Bus movie scenes

The Big Bus received mixed reviews at the time of its 1976 release, although the New York Times gave the film a favorable review. Box office sales were disappointing, but the film has since been recognized as a cult classic of its genre. It is rated PG.

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Director Frawley won the audience award at the 1977 Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival.

The Big Bus The Big Bus Trailer YouTube

The big bus movie


The Big Bus F This Movie Unsung The Big Bus

Coyote Bus Lines' scientists and designers work feverishly to complete Cyclops, a state-of-the-art articulated jumbo bus, enabling man to achieve a new milestone in busing: non-stop service between New York City and Denver. Almost immediately after the bus's engine is equipped with nuclear fuel, a bomb goes off, critically injuring Professor Baxter, the scientist in charge of the project. Cyclops itself is undamaged, but Coyote Lines has lost both its driver and co-driver.

The Big Bus The Big Bus 1976

Kitty Baxter, the professor's daughter and the Cyclops designer, is forced to turn to Dan Torrance, an old flame. Once a promising driver, Torrance was disgraced after he crashed his bus atop Mount Diablo, and was accused of saving his own life by eating all of his passengers. (Torrance blamed his co-driver for cannibalism, insisting that he himself survived by eating the seats and the luggage, and only ate part of a passenger's foot by accident.) Narrowly surviving an assault by vindictive fellow drivers with the help of "Shoulders" O'Brien, Torrance is recruited to drive Cyclops.

The Big Bus The Movie Vigilante Cyclops the Big Bus

Meanwhile, a sinister tycoon plots with oil sheikhs to destroy the bus. Known as "Iron Man," he is encased in a huge iron lung while directing his brother Alex to sabotage Cyclops using timebombs. Alex would prefer to use a manmade earthquake, but Iron Man insists that the bus be destroyed and discredited. Before its maiden voyage, Alex sneaks aboard and hides a bomb within the bus.


Amid public fanfare, the bus finally leaves New York bound for Denver. Among the passengers are the Cranes, a neurotic married couple waiting for their divorce to finalize; Father Kudos, a priest who has lost his way; Dr. Kurtz, a disgraced veterinarian; Emery Bush, a man with only a few months to live; and Camille Levy, whose father died in the aforementioned Mount Diablo bus crash.

The Big Bus The Big Bus sketchUcation 1

At first, Cyclops' journey is a success, and Torrance triumphantly breaks the 90 mph "wind barrier" (referenced as "breaking wind"). Soon, however, disaster strikes. Investigating a mechanical problem, Dan finds Alex's bomb. He disarms it only before an explosion rips through another part of the bus. Now unable to stop, Cyclops speeds across America. Dan is determined to achieve Cyclops' historic goal of non-stop service to Denver, but he also needs to surpass a treacherously curvy road where his father died. Dan almost succeeds, but not before a truck collides into the upper deck windshield, and the bus runs partially off the road, finding itself teetering over a cliff. To save the bus, Dan and Shoulders shift all weight to the back of the bus by pumping all of the vehicle's storage of carbonated beverages into the opposite end of the bus into the galley, as well as jettisoning all of the passenger luggage.

Knowing he has only one more chance to destroy Cyclops, Iron Man is finally persuaded by Alex to use the earthquake. Unfortunately for Iron Man, Alex has somehow set the coordinates for Iron Man's house instead.

Back on the road, Cyclops is once again headed to its destination, when, only 25 miles outside of Denver, the front and rear halves of the bus split from each other.


  • Joseph Bologna as Capt. Dan Torrance
  • Stockard Channing as Kitty Baxter
  • René Auberjonois as Father Kudos
  • John Beck as "Shoulders" O'Brien
  • Ned Beatty as Shorty Scotty
  • Bob Dishy as Dr. Kurtz
  • Murphy Dunne as Tommy Joyce
  • José Ferrer as Ironman
  • Ruth Gordon as the Old Lady
  • Harold Gould as Professor Baxter
  • Larry Hagman as Parking Lot Doctor
  • Howard Hesseman as Jack
  • Sally Kellerman as Sybil Crane
  • Stuart Margolin as Alex
  • Richard Mulligan as Claude Crane
  • Lynn Redgrave as Camille Levy
  • Richard B. Shull as Emery Bush
  • Vic Tayback as Goldie
  • Mary Charlotte Wilcox as Mary Jane Beth Sue
  • Vito Scotti as Barber
  • Soundtrack score

    The score to the film was created by veteran film composer David Shire. Shire is also credited with composing scores for such films as The Hindenburg, The Conversation, and Short Circuit. Shire's score for The Big Bus was in line with the disaster parody theme of the film that also incorporated elements of disco. In the '90s, Film Score Monthly magazine ran a poll asking which film score its readers would most like to see released. The Big Bus was among the top 20 scores. In 2000, a bootleg CD of the film's soundtrack surfaced as a prized collectable.

    In January 2011, a limited edition official release of the score was produced by Film Score Monthly (Catalog No. FSM1401). The compact disc was limited to 2000 copies and contained the film's complete score, including alternate takes and excerpts of classical pieces used in various scenes. The CD also contained comedy music and vocals bits by Murphy Dunne, who portrayed Tommy Joyce, the piano player in the bus' Oriental Lounge. The soundtrack release was sourced from the master tapes. As a result, sound quality was excellent and in stereo.

    Television broadcasts and home video releases

    The film was released to VHS and Betamax in the early 1980s. Copies for those formats are extremely hard to find.

    In 2002, Paramount Home Video released the film on DVD in a dual-format edition containing the film in the full-screen or theatrical 2.35:1 aspect ratios, (though there is some slight windowboxing with the widescreen version selected); Dolby 5.1 English Surround Sound stereo/mono mix, or Dolby 2.0 mono in English, French, and Spanish. No other extras are included.

    As of September, 2013, the film is available on DVD in the United States from Warner Archive.

    Region 4 full-screen DVD releases are somewhat common though.

    There have been rumors that Paramount Home Entertainment is planning Blu-ray/DVD combo release containing a new remastered transfer, though no official confirmation has been made.

    The film made a television premiere on CBS in May 1980, albeit with edits in some adult content and language to meet broadcast content standards. It has been broadcast only a few times over the past 30 years on various channels, though it had been aired uncut as recently as early 2009 on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and Showtime.

    As of 2009, Warner Bros. Television holds the USA TV broadcast rights while Paramount Pictures retains all other rights, which explains why only the current Warner Bros. logo appears on Showtime's airings (though the original Paramount logo is preserved on TCM's print and the DVD).

    Sketchup the big bus from 1976 movie


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