Hands on a Hard Body
August 25, 2008 2:31 PM   Subscribe

"It's a human drama thing." This is a documentary film about a group of people in Texas who enter a competition to win a new "hardbody" pickup truck, merely by keeping one hand on the truck the longest. (via Kottke via waxy)

More background to the competition, which is no longer run, due to a tragedy which occurred in 2005.
posted by acro (44 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'd be amazed if this wasn't a double.

Great movie though, and strange that it would suddenly pop up on the goog.
posted by nevercalm at 2:43 PM on August 25, 2008


Even stranger, I made an FPP yesterday about sex at the olympics which I entitled "Hands on a Hard Body."

Ten years old, and any serious fan of American documentary film has probably seen it, but it was an excellent film.

(And East Texas is really some other planet despite resembling Earth.)
posted by fourcheesemac at 2:45 PM on August 25, 2008


Longview native Matthew McConaghey helped get this film made, as I recall.

It's sort of a crazy town even by Texas standards though. Wonder if they still have that drive-through daiquiri place there?
posted by First Post at 2:45 PM on August 25, 2008


This was on UK TV a while back - not the documentary, but the concept, as a light entertainment game show.

It was called 'Touch The Truck.' It was presented by Dale Winton.
posted by mippy at 2:47 PM on August 25, 2008


Robert Altman was all set to start production on a dramatic adaptation of this before his death. Alas!
posted by Bromius at 2:47 PM on August 25, 2008


I think it's been out of print on dvd for a while so it doesn't surprise me it's appearing on Google.
posted by dobbs at 2:47 PM on August 25, 2008


One of the oldest "This American Life" episodes I remember listening to was the piece done on "Hands on a Hardbody." I think it was on one of their first dvds.
posted by onlyconnect at 2:50 PM on August 25, 2008


It's been mentioned a few times in comments (usually re: good or entertaining documentaries), but never been the subject of a post.

Mefi's own bradth27 participated once.
posted by cortex at 2:51 PM on August 25, 2008


Wow. Had seen the documentary. Had no clue that the 2005 incident had happened. That's a helluva update.

My favorite part of the documentary is the guy who relates buying the A/C unit off of a nearby Kmart (same one, maybe?) and attaching it to his house... A personal wish of mine.
posted by Debaser626 at 2:53 PM on August 25, 2008


Wow, I haven't heard that story in ten years. I think I listened to it on the This American Life cd while on the greyhound from Boston to Toronto in 1998. What's old is new again!
posted by Hildegarde at 3:15 PM on August 25, 2008


My favorite part of the documentary is the guy who relates buying the A/C unit off of a nearby Kmart (same one, maybe?) and attaching it to his house... A personal wish of mine.

I think that's a personal wish of everybody who lives in Texas, except for the people who don't think that would be enough.
posted by spiderwire at 3:17 PM on August 25, 2008


My favorite part, unless I'm thinking of a different production or article, is one of the winners describes the serious hallucinations you start having after staying awake for an extended period of time. Like you flat out start seeing things that are just not there.
posted by cashman at 3:32 PM on August 25, 2008


** spoiler **

My favorite part of the documentary was the Christian woman who listened to Christian music/tapes to inspire her to stay strong. She was doing well until she got so inspired she lifted both hands toward the heavens...
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 3:33 PM on August 25, 2008


One of the oldest "This American Life" episodes I remember listening to was the piece done on "Hands on a Hardbody." I think it was on one of their first dvds.

It was.

Here's the "This American Life episode covering the Hands on a Hardbody documentary.
posted by ericb at 3:38 PM on August 25, 2008


Glad to see that this has finally popped up online, especially since secondhand copies are quite expensive.
posted by dhammond at 3:41 PM on August 25, 2008


21:30 - Yokel contestant invokes Highlander.

"There can be only one (y'all)"
posted by Senor Cardgage at 3:45 PM on August 25, 2008


I remember watching at least part of this documentary a few years back. Weird thing is that I'm positive I watched it for a college course, but I'll be damned if I can remember what course it was.

My opinions of East Texas developed by watching the documentary have not changed significantly in the intervening years.
posted by Caduceus at 3:58 PM on August 25, 2008


Yokel contestant

For shame. That you would use such an epithet to describe the great Benny Perkins shows that you have learned nothing from his story.
posted by dhammond at 3:58 PM on August 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


We'll see what transgresses.

This is good. See it if you haven't.
posted by louche mustachio at 4:27 PM on August 25, 2008


I always lump this documentary and Hell House together (along with their respective This American Life episodes) to form some magical vision of Texas that was cut out of that David Byrne movie True Stories. Texas is weird.
posted by monkeystronghold at 4:41 PM on August 25, 2008


There is a grand total of seven teeth in this entire movie.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 4:42 PM on August 25, 2008



Well, my hometown finally made the blue.
Almost everyone in town thought this was the dumbest thing they'd ever heard. And in Longview, that's saying a lot.
posted by bukharin at 4:52 PM on August 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


It was called 'Touch The Truck.' It was presented by Dale Winton.

It made Charlie Brooker quit TVGoHome (on the basis that real telly programmes had become more ludicrous than his made up ones).
posted by jack_mo at 4:56 PM on August 25, 2008


I saw this in Seattle back in its original release. Great, great documentary. The best part was the redneck contestant who, in all seriousness, recalled a line from his "favorite movie" Highlander: "There can be only one."

Reminded me of Stephen King's "The Long Walk". In a way.
posted by zardoz at 5:01 PM on August 25, 2008


That was excellent.
posted by pmbuko at 5:02 PM on August 25, 2008


Spoiler______ALERT


[this space meant to keep you from reading on -- and hey, zardoz, I *also* saw this movie in a theater in Seattle in 1997 in premier. Fancy that. ]



I know a lot of guys like that redneck. He drinks and smokes, he's older than the others, he pooh poohs the fancy strategies of his fellow contestants, and just declares he's going to win the truck. As soon as he said that, I knew who was going to win. What doesn't kill an East Texas redneck makes them stronger. Bank on it.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:07 PM on August 25, 2008


IIRC they did this years ago in Milwaukee with contestants trying to win a boat. It was held outside. It was cold. Contestants got frostbite. Hahaha.
posted by sharksandwich at 5:22 PM on August 25, 2008


We had in gym class a sort of contest like this. Everyone sat with their back against the wall and their knees bent at a 90 degree angle. You held that position until you failed to hold it anymore, and last one remaining won. I remember I desparately wanted to win and don't for the life of me remember if I held out to do so, but that feeling of gradually, helplessly losing control of your body was indelible. Later, I have read the AVH used similar "games" as a form of torture. I felt like I could understood it a little bit.
posted by Wolfdog at 5:45 PM on August 25, 2008


This is one of my favorite documentaries. A team of Hollywood screenwriters couldn't create a better cast. This ran at the Dobie Theater in Austin for over a year. Everytime someone came into town, it would be 1. the Salt Lick 2. Amy's on Sixth and 3. "Hands on a Hardbody."

I have it on DVD and watch it at least once a year. GO BABY GO.
posted by ColdChef at 6:28 PM on August 25, 2008


This is great, thanks for posting.
posted by nola at 6:33 PM on August 25, 2008


The remarkable thing about this documentary is how each of the finalists fit into a specific archetype.
Experienced.
Superfit.
Desperate.
Stubborn.
Religious.

I thought it was an important life lesson that stubbornness trumps all.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:45 PM on August 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


Shoot. 150 horses? Okay!
posted by sourwookie at 6:52 PM on August 25, 2008


(sorry the punning is so forced)
posted by sourwookie at 6:52 PM on August 25, 2008


GO BABY GO
posted by acro at 7:37 PM on August 25, 2008


I still have my copy on VHS - and yes, I participated, years ago. Lost.

Longview is actually pretty decent town - and I find it quite humorous that the documentary takes great pains not to show how large the town actually is. From the video, you would think it's some tiny little ghost town in the middle of nowhere, with a cow pasture right beside the dealership.

Actually, it's a thriving town of around 80,000 - large by East Texas standards. I have a few family members that live there, and I grew up just down the road a piece.
posted by bradth27 at 8:11 PM on August 25, 2008


And East Texas is really some other planet despite resembling Earth

You're right. When I moved away and lived in California for a while, I forgot what East Texas was like. 2 years later, I returned - and noticed complete strangers were waving at me on the road. People left their cars running at the gas station while they went in. Lots of people don't even lock their doors at night - including most of my family. And when you break down on the road, people actually stop to help.

Yes, like some other planet entirely. I moved away years ago, and I still miss it.
posted by bradth27 at 8:31 PM on August 25, 2008


Ooh. I've been trying to watch this for a long time. Thanks!
posted by ignignokt at 12:44 AM on August 26, 2008


The article from the Longview paper was so poorly written it actually confused me more than helped. Small town journalism FTW!
posted by spamguy at 6:37 AM on August 26, 2008


I read an article in the Wall Street Journal a while ago (no citation, sorry) about someone who was a professional Hands on a Hard Body contestant; he was really good at staying awake as long as he needed to, and he'd go anywhere that was holding a contest, stay there for a while (once word got out about this guy, contest promoters put in residency rules, but he'd just move there far enough ahead of time to qualify), and he'd sell the fresh-off-the-lot vehicles at a slight discount and still earn a decent living. He could even afford to hire an assistant to massage his legs during the five-minute break.

You know, the more I think about it, the above sounds like an April Fools joke or a hoax. Anyone else ever hear of this guy?
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:10 AM on August 26, 2008


I don't know what Benny Perkins is up to nowadays, but someone should hire him to narrate audiobooks.

strangeleftydoublethink wrote: ** spoiler **

My favorite part of the documentary was the Christian woman who listened to Christian music/tapes to inspire her to stay strong. She was doing well until she got so inspired she lifted both hands toward the heavens...


Watching last night, I was really looking forward to this, but they failed to catch it on camera. They failed to catch quite a few key moments, in fact, but that didn't stop it being a great documentary. I think my favourite moment came when the film-maker, who presumably hadn't been sleeping much himself, completely cracked up while trying to interview the religious lady, who was in the middle of a crazy hooting session.

Also, I'm curious as to the fate of the young woman who was paranoid and pretty obviously hallucinating for hours before she quit - the organisers just let her wander off into the night, unable to speak, with no shoes, and her brain in pieces.
posted by jack_mo at 8:27 AM on August 26, 2008


I bet David Blaine could win that truck.
posted by Tube at 10:34 AM on August 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


I love that they can't take their gloves off because the it could damage the paint, while the contests mentally and physically crumble away...
posted by starman at 1:04 PM on August 26, 2008


Dang... pulled?
posted by starman at 7:05 PM on August 26, 2008


Damn. I've seen this before but I wanted to show it to others. :\
posted by clockworkjoe at 12:53 PM on August 27, 2008


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