California Straight Ahead! Former school bus driver Biff Smith manages a trucking company which has its fleet pitted against a freight train in a race to deliver aviation parts to the Pacific coast. ROMANCE ROARS ACROSS THE CONTINENT!
“California Straight Ahead” is an exciting little saga about the early trucking industry in the United States. John Wayne plays an ambitious public bus driver who turns to hauling loads for loot in “Gangs of Chicago” director Arthur Lubin’s charismatic potboiler. Clocking in at 67-trim minutes, “California Straight Ahead” shows Wayne at his early best as an indomitable hero. This is one of those old fashioned, inspirational, empire building tales where two small fry challenge a bigger freighting firm. Biff Smith (John Wayne of “Chism”) teams up with his pal Charlie Porter (Emerson Treacy of “The Sky Raiders”) to start their own two-bit trucking outfit. One day, Biff makes a proposition to haul a load of Nitroglycerin. Later, he gets into a free-for-all, knock-down drag out brawl in Chicago and then cools his heels in jail. He calls Charlie and tells him to cancel the job. He asks that the boss delay the shipment, but the boss is adamant about getting the nitroglycerin shipped. Reluctantly, Charlie takes it. Of course, Biff doesn’t know anything about this unfortunate turn of events. Padula Trucking drivers switch a road closed sign on Charlie, and he gets stuck in the mud. Biff gets back to town, checks in at Mary’s café, and discovers the news that Charlie is hauling the explosives. Just before Biff can find Charlie, he sees a bright explosion on the horizon. Charlie is dead, and Mary (Louise Latimer) hates him. She hates him because he lied to him. Biff and a British fish hauler ‘Fish’ McCorkle (Harry Allen of “Buckskin Empire”) join forces and haul. One day Biff and McCorkle are loading their vehicle when a Corrigan Trucking Company vehicle bangs up their truck. Biff goes to collect the damages and meets old man Corrigan (Robert McWade) and they hit it off together. Eventually, Biff rises in the company as a foreman. Biff is all about being gung-ho. The contentious Corrigan isn’t the easiest of bosses. Meantime, Biff commandeers the entire Corrigan Trucking Fleet to deliver a million dollar contract, but he faces stiff, neck-to-neck, competition. Biff keeps his caravan of trucks moving through harsh weather. He even uses a tanker truck to keep his vehicles constantly on the move. Rival trucker Padula (LeRoy Mason) utters a deathbed confession to killing Charlie to Mary while they are in route to the hospital. Arthur Lubin never wears out his welcome. There is a recurring gag about the Corrigan President requesting an aspirin. John Wayne fans will be pleased with this entertaining epic.