YEARS LATER, the podcast 80s All Over finds what I remembered! I've said before that I'm enjoying this podcast, which devotes each episode to a month of theatrical film releases from the 1980s. In April 1981 (covered in the episode posted Sunday), a joint U.S.-Canadian production called The Last Chase, filmed in Arizona and in and near Toronto, came out; by sometime in 1982, it reached HBO, and second-grade me saw it.
It's not a hidden gem. The film sucks. "It's Mild Max," co-host Drew McWeeny said, and co-host Scott Weinberg agreed. For a chase movie, it's slow. It wants to be portentous and Meaningful, and instead is leaden. Its politics, which I didn't notice in 1982, bug me: in the aftermath of a plague that kills a large portion of the population, the future U.S. government invents an oil crisis and successfully confiscates all but one car from the entire U.S. population. Widower Lee Majors owns that car, a Porsche racer, which he'd literally buried but unearths so he and student Chris Makepeace can attempt to escape from Boston to the break-away state of California, where they can...drive free!!! On their tail, eventually, is a pilot (Burgess Meredith), forced out of retirement to fly a Korean War-era F-86 Sabre and stop the roadsters. This is small-scale, almost certainly for budget reasons, but a low budget hadn't stopped the original 1979 Mad Max from being compelling and harrowing.
But I hadn't made up The Last Chase. A little more of my childhood is confirmed.