Smokey and the Bandit
Smokey and the Bandit was one of my favorite movies as a kid. My Uncle Glenn drove an 18-wheeler in North Dakota and he let me come along on his route one time. I was hooked on all things trucker after that. Peterbilts, CB radios, and “10-4 good buddy” all became part of my world. Smokey and the Bandit came along shortly after and my love affair with this movie began.
Smokey and the Bandit was released right around the same time as the first Star Wars. Yeah, whatever. Burt Reynolds, Sally Field, Jerry Reed, and Jackie Gleason were the main stars in Smokey and the Bandit. This was a good ole boy kind of precursor to the Dukes of Hazzard. It was released on May 27, 1977 and finished in second place (next to Star Wars) as the highest grossing movie of 1977.
The film was originally going to star Jerry Reed as the Bandit and was going to be more of a low budget B movie. I guess it was a good thing that the director, Hal Needham, was good friends with Burt Reynolds. The script was initially written on legal pads. Burt read through it and told Hal it was the worst thing he’d ever read. Then he agreed to star in the movie. Funny.
Burt Reynolds had a bit of a crush on Sally Field and pushed for her to be in the movie. Universal apparently thought Sally was not attractive enough. What? Are they crazy? Maybe they meant glamorous or elegant. Maybe they wanted a Ginger Grant instead of a Mary Ann. Whatever it was, don’t say my girl wasn’t attractive enough. That just makes you sound ignorant.
Buford T. Justice
Burt Reynold’s dad was a police officer and knew Florida Highway Patrolman, Buford T. Justice. Jackie Gleason’s character of Buford T. Justice was modeled after this real person. Jackie Gleason improvised most of his lines. The scene in the café where he’s eating his Diablo sandwich wasn’t in the original script. Gleason added that scene. It was also his idea to add the character Junior. Gleason said he needed someone to play off of and didn’t want to be alone in the patrol car.
NOTE: Even as a young kid, I noticed that the Trans Am was an automatic transmission, yet the sound effects made it sound as if it were a manual. I think they even show the Bandit shifting in some scenes. Oops.
- Sales of the Pontiac Trans Am increased 500% after Smokey and the Bandit.
- It was Alfred Hitchcock’s favorite movie.
- Burt Reynolds earned $1 million dollars for his role which was a quarter of the budget.
- Jerry Reed (Snowman) wrote East Bound and Down in a few hours.
- Early in the movie the Bandit breaks the fourth wall by looking and smiling at the camera.
- Three Dukes of Hazzard stars have uncredited roles. John Schneider (Bo Duke), Sonny Shroyer (Enos) and Ben Jones (Cooter) are all in the movie.
- Burt Reynolds and Sally Field started dating during this movie.
- When they jump the old dismantled bridge, the car had a booster rocket on it. The car was trashed after the jump.
- Burt Reynolds said that Smokey and the Bandit was the movie he had the most fun making and the one he enjoyed the most.
I thought it was appropriate to carry on my memorial to Burt Reynolds by writing about this wonderful movie. If you’ve never seen Smokey and the Bandit, you should do yourself a favor and watch it. You’re welcome.