There are excellent movies that feature trucks prominently in the story line. Truck Trend ran John Pearley Huffman's "Top 10 Truck Movies" in the March/April 2007 issue. As with all lists, there's bound to be disagreement, and I believe other more impressive movies weren't mentioned at all.
Here's the old list:
10. Convoy (1978)
9. The Driver (1978)
8. Take This Job and Shove It (1981)
7. Hell Drivers (1957)
6. They Drive By Night (1940)
5. White Line Fever (1975)
4. Smokey and the Bandit (1977)
3. Duel (1971)
2. White Heat (1949)
1. The Road Warrior (1981)
One movie, in particular, is conspicuously absent, "Sorcerer" (1977). It's a remake of the French movie, "Wages of Fear." A group of down-and-out criminal expatriates living in a small Central American village are coerced into transporting a load of unstable nitroglycerin through treacherous jungle for an oil-drilling company. The director William Friedkin ("The Exorcist") has a great eye for eerie, discomforting things. The cinematography is lush and unforgiving. Progressive Rock band, Tangerine Dream, provides a tension-laced, rhythmic score, their first soundtrack. The esoteric movie title kept people away from the film in droves. I was one of a handful of audience members on the opening night in '77. The movie is excellent. The truck scenes, particularly the crossing of a dilapidated suspension bridge in a torrential downpour, are epic. Easily a top-five for truck guys.
Since most people believe trucks are naturally scary, horror films like to portray trucks as living entities, as in "Maximum Overdrive" or "Killdozer." The scariest trucks, however, always have a malevolent presence behind the wheel. Steven Spielberg's masterful "Duel," rightfully on the list above, is the archtype. The teenage horror film, "Jeepers Creepers," features a scene taken directly from the "Duel" playbook. Two innocent kids, driving a cool blue '60 Impala on the open road, are accosted by one of the coolest movie trucks around. Starting off with a clapped-out REO stakebed, an enclosed box van section was fabricated and grafted to the beat-up cab for a massive delivery-truck-from-hell look. The death-cry from the horn is icing on the cake. I would buy this truck in a minute for L.A. commuting. Its only purpose in the movie, since the demon driver has wings and can fly, appears to be to rip-off Spielberg and scare the daylights out of the audience. Check, on both counts.
Films released after the list was compiled include Stephen King's "The Mist." A tasty Toyota FJ55 Land Cruiser shows up in the opening scenes and plays an important role in the climax of this somewhat irritating sci-fi thriller. I suppose "Transformers" (2007) falls into this category as well. The vehicles were cool but the movie...not so much.
Mechanical maestro and expert auto restyler Dean Jefferies built the quintessential truck of the future, the Landmaster, for the movie "Damnation Alley" (1977). This was no simple prop -- it's an incredible piece of work. Jefferies took great pride in making it a functional 12-wheeled vehicle. The monster even floats and did so for the movie. I got a chance to visit with Dean when the Landmaster was still on his lot. He said he still has the extra Allison transmissions in storage. Awesome truck, not so awesome movie.
Pearly's number-one choice was an Aussie movie. There's another Australian movie worth checking out, "Roadgames" (1981). Stacey Keach drives a 'roo-bar-equipped Mercedes-Benz NG80. While hauling a load of meat through the outback he picks up a hitchhiker (Jamie Lee Curtis) and gets hung up with a serial killer. This is a character study in a cabover. Makes outback driving more interesting than ice-road trucking.
Honorable Mention goes to:
"The Hitcher" for the cop's Ramcharger and truckstop scene with the Peterbuilt 352.
"Into the Blue" (2005) for its rare early '80s Dodge Crew Cab Ram (and Jessica Alba).
"Judge Dredd" (1995) for the awesome yellow/black cabs made from Land Rover 101 Forward Control
No, It's Not on the List:
"Monster Man" (2003). I must confess I liked this movie. It was witty and had enough distasteful gore and over-the-top situations to keep me interested. Two wise guys are chased by a stapled-together humanoid in a wild monster truck. Throw in a seemingly helpless cutie, Aimee Brooks, and let the pursuit begin. Check your IQ at the door.
I've leaned hard on the blood-and-guts genre for my picks. I'm sure I've missed some of your favorites. If so, let me have it. That's what the comments below are for.