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The Big Bus 1976 ***

James Frawley got the job on helming The Muppet Movie on the back of his sterling efforts with The Big Bus, a fondly remembered spoof of disaster movies that doesn’t have the knowingness of Airplane but has plenty of high-spirited gags and performances to commend it. Joseph Bologna is Dan Torrance, who takes the wheel alongside Shoulders (John Beck) for the inaugural cross-country trip from New York to Denver of a nuclear-powered bus for well-off tourists. Torrance has a previous history with cannibalism (‘Ok, so I ate a foot! You eat one lousy foot and people never let you forget it!’) to live down, but all the passengers have dramas of their own, from Stockard Channing’s stewardess and nice comic bits from an Altman-esque cast Larry Hagman, Harold Gould, Ruth Gordon, Rene Auberjonois, Sally Kellerman and Ned Beatty. There’s plenty of choice lines (‘Look out, he’s got a broken milk-carton!”) and a terrific looking bus to keep to Big Bus on the road.

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