D.C. Cab (1983) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • The tale of a hapless group of cabbies and a rundown cab company owned by Harold. Albert comes to town with a dream of starting his own cab company but needs to motivate Harold's employees to want to make something out of themselves. It is only when Albert is kidnapped that the cabbies must decide whether or not they are loyal to Albert and his cause.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • A young man named Albert Hockenberry (Adam Baldwin) arrives in Washington, D.C., from Locust Grove, Georgia, and makes his way to the D.C. Cab Company, owned and operated by Harold Oswell (Max Gail), a Vietnam War veteran who served alongside Albert's late father. Their reunion is interrupted by Ernesto Bravo (Jose Perez), the city Hack Inspector, who claims that driver Tyrone Bywater (Charlie Barnett) overcharged a Japanese couple for a ride to the airport. Although Harold returns the couple's money, Bravo indicates that he will find any excuse to shut the company down. Meanwhile, Tyrone shifts Bravo's car into reverse, and when the inspector starts his vehicle, it accelerates backward into the front of a Chinese restaurant.

    That night at Harold's house, Albert informs his host that he intends to remain in the city and learn about the taxicab business. Although Harold is happy to have Albert as a house guest, his wife, Myrna (Anne De Salvo), is not and starts a fight with her husband over a trivial matter. Albert begins his training by riding along with the company's drivers, including Xavier (Paul Rodriguez), a well-dressed Latin American who aspires to be a gigolo, and Samson (Mr. T.), a civic-minded African American, angered over the presence of drug dealers in his neighborhood.

    On the day Albert receives his hack license, a driver named Ophelia (Marsha Warfield) threatens to leave D.C. Cab to work for the rival Emerald Cab Company after being angered over being robbed at gunpoint multiple times by a masked man (Dennis Stewart). Determined to keep his best driver, Harold invites Ophelia to discuss her grievances over a beer.

    Later, while sitting in a diner with his co-workers, Albert makes eye contact with Claudette (Jill Schoelen), the pretty granddaughter of Maudie the waitress (Diana Bellamy), who tries to discourage Albert from pursuing her granddaughter. Bravo enters the diner to announce that a violin, valued at $500,000, was left in an unidentified taxi, prompting the drivers to scramble to their vehicles in search of the instrument.

    Later, Tyrone and Albert drive mother and daughter Mattie and Denise to the embassy where they work as domestics, and are greeted by the children of Ambassador Rayburn, who pelt the taxi with eggs. That night, Tyrone dares Albert to drive the cab on railroad tracks to prove his courage, and the two barely escape with their lives.

    In the morning, the masked robber enters Tyrone's cab while Albert is at the wheel, and threatens him at gunpoint. Albert careens through the city toward the garage, and delivers the robber to the heavily armed drivers, while proving his courage to Tyrone. Mr. Rhythm, an elderly homeless man who sleeps in the garage, finds the missing violin in one of the taxis, earning the company a $10,000 reward. Harold calls a meeting at the diner to announce that he will share the reward if his employees reinvest in D.C. Cab as partners. All refuse except Albert, who is distracted by the sight of Claudette. While the other drivers dispute the proposition, Maudie gives Albert another warning.

    The next day, Claudette sneaks out of the diner and spends several hours with Albert in his taxi. Later, Harold returns home to discover that Myrna has taken the reward money and locked him out of the house. Believing that D.C. Cab is doomed, the drivers gather at the garage to clean out their lockers. Albert berates them for their lack of dedication and offers to invest $6,063, the last of his inheritance, to finance improvements on the vehicles and the garage. All agree to Albert's offer, exception for Tyrone, who is determined to start his own business.

    Over time, improvements are made and the employees share in the company's newfound prosperity. Albert wins over Maudie and no longer has to keep his romance with Claudette a secret. Tyrone, meanwhile, has no success as a souvenir salesman. One day, while delivering Denise and Mattie to the embassy, kidnappers commandeer Albert's cab, taking him and the Rayburn children hostage, and inflicting Mattie with a minor gunshot wound. The hostages are brought to a farmhouse on the outskirts of the city, where Albert is forced to deliver ransom demands by telephone, leading law enforcement to implicate him as an accomplice. Bravo shutters D.C. Cab pending an investigation. Tyrone rejoins his colleagues, offering a plan to rescue Albert and the children.

    Three drivers enter Mattie's hospital room disguised as lawyers, and acquire information on the kidnappers from federal agents standing guard. At the farmhouse, Albert breaks free and runs to his taxi, where he radios the garage, awakening Mr. Rhythm. Albert identifies his location using landmarks, which include Chinese actor Bruce Lee, before the kidnappers take him back into custody. Mr. Rhythm relays the information to Harold and his drivers, who liberate their taxis and search for the farmhouse, maintaining communication via radio. The drivers discover the farmhouse near a drive-in theater showing a Bruce Lee film, and make an unsuccessful attempt to convince the kidnappers that they are surrounded by the police. Samson rescues the children before the criminals escape in their van, with Albert as their remaining hostage.

    In the ensuing chase, Albert breaks free and climbs into Samson's taxi. The van runs off an embankment and lands in the center of the movie screen, before it crashes to the ground. Harold and his crew are feted as heroes, and the city holds a parade in their honor.

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