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Country Goes to the Movies, part VIII: Take This Job and Shove It

By Robert Loy, December 1997

And now we finally reach the film that gave this series its title.

Hard to believe that the Reaganomic workaholic 1980s gave us this little gem that shows the Japanese were right - the American worker really is a fat, lazy, drunken slob.

"Take This Job and Shove it" is based on a song written by David Allen Coe, but just like "You Never Even Called Me By My Name" was not "The Perfect Country and Western Song," this is not the perfect country and western movie.

Not by a long shot.

Here Eddie Albert plays the head of a soulless conglomerate that has just taken over a small hometown brewery in Dubuque, Iowa. He sends Frank Macklin (Robert Hays) down to increase profits so they can sell it at an obscene profit to some other soulless conglomerate.

This is before the "Airplane" movies, so Hays has to drive anautomobile. Once he gets to Iowa, he gets stuck behind two rednecksdrinking beer and belching smoke from their tailpipe.

They want to race Frank's Mercedes, and then when they lose therace they want to fight him. It turns out that these two clowns are Frank'sold high school chums, Harry (who looks like David Hasselhoff would if hewere a brewer instead of a baywatcher) and Ray (if Tom Selleck and WadeBoggs had a baby it would look like this guy).

Frank still owes Harry 4,000 beers from the old days, andconsidering that these guys have just polished off a couple dozen coldones - during their lunch hour! - 4,000 probably won't last more than aweek or two.

Frank gets right to work at the brewery, firing people and speeding upproduction. So ruthless and cruel is he that many of the workers areactually forced to work partially-sober.

But Harry and Ray make sure he doesn't become too much of aworkaholic. They drag him out to their favorite redneck roadhouse. (Thoseof you who have been wondering whatever became of David Allen Coe andLacy J. Dalton, it turns out they're performing at a dive in Dubuque.)

After a few days of hanging around and bending elbows with thecommon folks, Frank decides he doesn't really want to be a hard-driving,type-A capitalist any more. He wants to be a lazy drunk like everyone else.Part of this change of heart is due to the reappearance of old flameBarbara Hershey, who Frank is still sweet on. (Get it - Hershey? Sweet?)Meanwhile, back at the main office, Charlie (The Silver Fox) Rich hasdiscovered oil in his backyard. Ignoring the advice of his neighbor JedClampett, who tells him to move to Beverly (Hills, that is), Rich decideshe wants to buy a brewery in some podunk town where he can see otherwashed-up country singers in the local watering hole.

Eddie Albert says "I've got just the place for you," and sends MartinMull up to show him Frank's handiwork.

(This has nothing to do with the movie, but I'm thinking about EddieAlbert and "Green Acres." Wouldn't it have made more sense if "PetticoatJunction," that show named after a piece of underwear and starring thebuxom Billie Jo, Bobby Jo and Betty Jo, had been set in "Hooter"ville. Justwondering.)

Anyway, back in Dubuque, Frank has ordered a slowdown at work. Hisemployees are so excited they throw a surprise party for him at the bar. They play football with a roll of toilet paper - which of course turns into a glass-shattering, table-crunching brawl.

Johnny Paycheck (who after all made the title song famous) makeshis 10-second appearance. He plays the busboy who has to clean up thisgoshawful mess - no wonder he's so dissatisfied with his employment situation.

Just to make absolutely sure Mr. Rich doesn't buy the brewery and makethese worthless sots actually do some work, Frank directs the guys on theline to start breaking bottles. Eventually somebody turns the beer hose onRich and Mull. Chaos ensues.

For some reason, probably just so somebody can actually say "Take thisjob and shove it," Eddie Albert doesn't fire Frank, but instead offers him apromotion - head of Canadian operations.

The movie irresponsibly ends with a big party. We don't see whathappens the next morning when Frank sobers up and realizes what ahorrible mistake he's made. We don't see a couple months down the roadwhen they come to repossess the Mercedes.

And we don't see a year or so in the future when Barbara Hersheydumps him and he winds up in the cirrhosis wing of the hospital with `Harry and Ray, waiting for a liver transplant.