BUTTE, MT—Bob Beresford, a tow-truck driver with 11 years of experience at Central Montana Service & Salvage, announced Monday that he has a great idea for a tow-truck movie.
"I don't know why, but most people really don't have that clear a picture of what tow-trucking is all about," said the 44-year-old Beresford, standing in front of his 1995 Ford Super Duty. "They don't realize the integrity, the commitment, the strong sense of duty that go into this work. With Towtruckin', I have a chance to change all that."
Towtruckin', according to Beresford, is "a classic David-versus-Goliath story." Its hero, "Rob Relesford," is a gifted, idealistic young tow-truck driver trying to make it as an independent operator in the highly competitive world of towing and recovery. Faced with competition from Towco, a massive, multi-state towing corporation, Relesford must choose between continuing to eke out a lonely but proud existence or accepting a well-paid position on the Towco payroll. In the end, the choice is clear.
"At the end of the movie, there's a big, overturned tractor-trailer across the highway, and the hot-shot Towco guys won't move it for insurance-liability reasons," Beresford said. "Then, the hero steps forward and tows the wreck off. Not because he's a show-off, but because he has to. It's just what he does."
Beresford said he hasn't fully developed the plot of Towtruckin'. He has, however, worked out certain scenes, such as the one in which Relesford pulls a beautiful waitress' 1984 Sunbird off the median and gallantly refuses to accept payment.
"Rob is a real American hero," Beresford said. "He's out there with his wrecker all hours of the day and night, ready to right a tipped truck or haul a stalled vehicle to a mechanic. He's the closest thing to the cowboy we have left these days. But the point is, if something needs to be towed, by God, he'll tow it."
"To me, that's America in a nutshell," he added.
Though Beresford plans to paint Rob as something of an outlaw, he said the character's actions will always fall on the side of what's right.
"Rob would never tow away an illegally parked car unless it was impeding or inconveniencing honest citizens," Beresford said. "And he'd only tow repossessed cars of bad guys and wealthy gangsters, not poor people trying to make ends meet. Rob's like Robin Hood with a winch."
Beresford said he will likely incorporate his own personal experiences into the film.
"There's going to be this old tow-truck driver who serves as Rob's mentor and teaches him everything he knows about tow-trucking," Beresford said. "That's based on Red Stampfel, the guy who was boss here when I started in '89," Beresford said. "He was like the Yoda of Central Montana Service & Salvage: Boom tow, high-line towing, righting a chassis, Stampfel knew it all. He died of a heart attack in '96. In the movie version, the guy dies, too, but Rob continues to talk to him after he dies."
Added Beresford: "Also, there'll be this girl who, at first, doesn't get why towing's so important to Rob, but eventually she comes to understand. That, of course, is like [Beresford's wife] Melanie."
Beresford is confident in his vision for Towtruckin', describing it as a "can't-miss" concept. He does, however, fear that the film could be ruined by studio executives who don't fully "get it."
"There's a right way and a wrong way to do this film," Beresford said. "One of the wrong ways would definitely be to make a big deal out of the truck. Don't get me wrong, this guy'll have a nice rig, like the three-axle Ford Super Duty I drive at Central Montana. But I could see some Hollywood type putting him in a big 30-foot rollback tower with all these extra hydraulics and a crewcab and that kind of crap. That's not how it should be done. Towtruckin' is all about the tow trucker, not the tow truck."