Season 2 episode 3
This is one action packed episode. Will and Sonny spend a week on a Marine base proving they are as tough as marines. Actually filmed at Camp Lejune, in Jacksonville, NC, the episode is chock full of real combat training footage beautifully intercut with the boys. Will and Sonny prove themselves in the war games and, as an added bonus, Will boxes a few rounds with Smokin’ Joe Fraizer. Amazing!
If you have friends who are boxing fans you must turn them on to this wonderful footage of the future World Champ and one of the few boxers who defeated Muhammad Ali.
When I watch “Toughest Men in America”, I recall, “Pick ’em up and put ’em down,” the Gunny Sergeant’s words that echo in Will and Sonny’s mind. March – do push ups – sit ups – march some more – jump out of a helicopter into the chilling sea – take off from the deck of a aircraft carrier – go play war games – and then, when you thought you had enough, get into a boxing ring with Smokin’ Joe Frazier!
“Toughest Men In America” was producer Ernie Frankel’s idea for an episode to be shot at Camp Lejeune, a tough as nails Marine Corp base. Frankel had been an officer in the Corp, serving in WWII and Korea.
In the story, Sonny shoots off his big mouth and a magazine quotes him saying that truckers are tougher than US Marines. Sonny and Will are challenged by the Marines to spend a week doing what Marines do. Being an “old swabby”, Sonny thinks the Marine Corp is just a lot of pomp and circumstance and he convinces Will to take up the challenge with him. Soon everyone, truckers and Marines, are betting whether the pair of truckers can survive one week of Marine basic training. And as this is another Moose and Benjy scheme, they are handling most of the action.
The script was written by David Harmon and delivered to our stars and wasn’t long before I was on the phone with both Claude and Frank, “Have you lost your mind? We’re not gonna do it. No way.”
“Come on guys, I know you can do this,” I answered. “It’s for all the truckers in the USA. You know you’ll be great.”
Claude and Frank went along and we all pulled on our combat boots and went to Lejeune.
The Marines made us all comfy, if your idea of comfy is sleeping in barrack bunk beds and showering together. Claude and Frank weren’t too happy about communal showers, but they did a nice scene together anyway. It was especially tough for them because on the other side of the camera the entire crew was laughing their butts off!
The presence of Moose and Benjy added to the general hilarity. Art Metrano wears a NY Jets T-shirt which made Rosie Grier apoplectic. Rosie had been a star lineman for the NY Giants and as he told me more than once, he regarded his old team “to the max.”
Boxing fans will love seeing former Champ, Smokin’ Joe Fraizer. I don’t know about Frank, but I certainly would have thought very hard before getting in the ring with Joe who would have his third fight with Ali, “The Thrilla in Manilla,” later that year. Fraizer was a great sport and was happy to let skinny Will survive the fight.
Please give a cheer to our editors on this episode, especially Dick Wormell. They did a brilliant job seamlessly cutting real, highly explosive training footage into our nicely directed production footage. And just when you think you’ve seen it all, our guys show their courage, performing heroic deeds on the “battlefield” which puts a commendation in their hands and the right to say that “Truckers are the Toughest Men in America”.
Once again, I’m amazed to the extent that “Movin’ On” went to bring exciting entertainment to our audience. Have a look see, and let us hear what you think.