(first posted 2/28/2014) The fourth highest grossing film in the United States in 1977 was the Academy Award nominated Smokey & The Bandit.
Some people have ripped this film as being thin on plot; others have called it a documentary about life south of the Mason-Dixon Line. So let’s explore this car (and truck) heavy flick, all while giving those who have not seen it a glimpse into a movie whose complexity and intellect remains unparalleled within the history of cinema.
This movie trailer gives you an taste of this provocative film, but fails to effectively capture all the subtleties and nuances it contains. Let us dissect this flick to better examine it.
Burt Reynolds plays truck driver Bo “Bandit” Darville. He is hired by Big Enos Burdette and his son Little Enos to transport a truck load of Coors beer from Texarkana, Texas, back to Georgia in 28 hours. The rub? At the time, it was illegal to transport Coors east of the Mississippi River and a series of other truckers had been apprehended for trying to accomplish this feat for the Burdettes.
Needing a fast set of wheels to distract law enforcement, Reynolds’ character purchases this 1977 Pontiac Trans-Am. He enlists the help of fellow truck driver Cletus “The Snowman” Snow, played by country music singer Jerry Reed.
The trip to Texarkana is uneventful; soon after leaving for the return trip to Georgia, The Bandit encounters Frog, played by Sally Field. She is a runaway bride, sitting on the side of the road in her 1973 Chevrolet Impala coupe.
As Frog leaves, we are introduced to Sheriff Buford T. Justice, played by Jackie Gleason. Let’s take a look.
Gleason’s Justice is the stereotypical Southern sheriff, as seen in this clip. His persona–round, dumpy, and clipping words–reminds one of another fictional southern sheriff…
image source: www.chicagoautoshow.com
…Dodge pitchman “Sheriff” Joe Higgins. He’s fodder enough for his own article at some point.
As luck and script writing would have it, Frog has left her groom at the altar. Her groom? Sheriff Justice’s son, Junior. With this, the Sheriff begins his pursuit of the Mann Act-violating Bandit–all the way to Georgia.
Sheriff Justice’s steed?
A new, 1977 Pontiac LeMans.
While Sheriff Justice doesn’t deal well with the pressures of “high speed pursuit”, as seen above, his Pontiac LeMans (CC here) withstands the most abuse of any car in this entire movie.
Want proof? Here is the LeMans; Gleason literally drives the wheels off:
As an aside, here’s a curious bit of trivia. If you watched any of these clips, you heard a goodly number of phrases that still cannot be used on television in the United States. When Smokey & The Bandit first aired on television in the early 1980s, the Gleason phrase “sum bitch”–a regional butchering of “son of a bitch”–had to be dubbed out. In its place was the nonsensical “scum bum.” The voice over actor?
Henry Corden, the voice of cartoon character Fred Flintstone. As Fred Flintstone was modeled off Ralph Kramden, the Jackie Gleason character from the 1950s television show The Honeymooners, the tone and intonation of the dubbing was highly convincing.
Anyone who enjoys Colonnade sedans will love Smokey & the Bandit. While it is doubtful Pontiac sold very many LeMans police packages, if one views this show as realistic, it would seem nearly every county and highway patrol in five states purchased one of Pontiac’s heavy duty offerings.
Such as this one….
….or this one going for a wash.
For a little visual variety of sorts, and possibly an indicator of what car was about to be wrecked, the producers did branch out to use the 1975-era Plymouth Fury as another police car.
These Furys, as well as some of the LeMans units, have hood scoops. Likely this isn’t any rare engine venting package, but I could be wrong. While watching the movie (yes, I did have to diligently research this article), one shot seemed to indicate this may be a dummy scoop. Anyone with insight is encouraged to share their knowledge on this.
We also learn that every launched satellite will eventually fall back to Earth, such as this 1972 Plymouth Satellite (CC here).
Not all the police cars had hood scoops. These two 1967 Ford Galaxies (CC here), soon to be redecorated by a Kenworth road tractor, do not.
Since mentioning the Kenworth, it must be noted it was a redecorator of the highest fashion. About two seconds after this picture was taken, these motorcycles were doing their best imitation of a stack of pancakes.
The Kenworth even achieves a trifecta of sorts, as it gave the first dent to Sheriff Justice’s LeMans. I certainly hope the guy hired to drive that ’74 Ford Torino wagon was paid well for his work.
Other than Jackie Gleason upstaging every other cast member, the perceived star of the show is this 1977 Pontiac Trans Am.
On the DVD, there is a brief interview with both Burt Reynolds and Hal Needham, who directed this film. Originally, the film was going to be a B-movie played only in the Southern United States. As such, it took a lot of sweet talking by former stuntman Needham for Pontiac to cough up three Trans Ams and three LeManses. While I have read undocumented accounts of there being more than three Trans Ams, Needham stated three is all that were used.
The three Trans Am’s were used…
…and used hard. Needham stated that by the end of production, there really wasn’t much left of any of the three.
With Reynolds’ agreement to do the movie, and his insistence upon casting Gleason as Sheriff Justice, the movie became a larger venture. While the initial concern was it having a regional appeal, it would ultimately play as well in New York City and Chicago as it did Atlanta, Georgia, or Biloxi, Mississippi.
In the Reynolds portion of the interview, he stated the movie prompted Trans Am sales to jump “around 700%.” While they did jump, from 46,700 in 1976 to 69,000 for 1977 with another 93,300 for 1978, it wasn’t exactly 700%.
There are an abundance of cars in this movie. Further, as Pontiac has deliciously obvious product placement, anyone who delights in ’70s era Pontiac iron will experience visual ecstasy. Let’s take a look at some more cars found in the movie.
A 1975 Pontiac Grand Ville, seen toward the end of the movie. A CC for a 1973 Grand Ville convertible can be found here.
A Pontiac wagon from earlier in the decade. There has never been anything quite like late 1970s fashion in clothing.
A 1975 Pontiac Grand Prix with a Buick Electra behind it.
Not everything was Pontiac, as evidenced by this 1973 Plymouth Satellite coupe (CC here). It seems Plymouth was in a distant second for product placement.
Behind Sheriff Justice’s Pontiac, there is a nice looking 1965 or 1966 Ford Mustang fastback and a Toyota pickup.
As I am finishing this article while Big Truck Week is winding down, here is a Kenworth with a 1973 Dodge Polara patrol car.
If you watched the second clip above, this truck should look familiar. Banzai!
Smokey & The Bandit was the first of three movies in that franchise. I have only seen pieces of the second and none of the third; I plan to keep it that way. However, as our heroes were successful in delivering their truckload of Coors, the writers effectively poised themselves for a sequel. Both sequels used another Trans Am, not a Cadillac Eldorado, as seen below.
All pictures from the movie were acquired from www.imcdb.org
Fred Lives!!! “East bound and down, loaded up and truckin’
We gonna do what they say can’t be done
We’ve got a long way to go and a short time to get there
I’m east bound, just watch ol’ Bandit run.”
That song often pops into my head at the start of long drives. One of those things that will make my kids think I’m crazy some day.
When I’m driving the Bandit Trans Am while playing one of my many Forza Motorsport games I always put that song on. It just seems wrong to see that car in any fashion without hearing that song. Pontiac should have made a radio that played that song automatically simply by pushing a button, or maybe made it the horn sound.
Nicely done sir.
“I’m gonna barbecue your ass in molasses.”
Re: The picture with 4 ladies and the wagon and van
How did any bra manufacturers survive the 70s? Watching TV and Movies you would think that sales dropped to nil.
You want to questions bra sales, check out the youtube video of “Hang on Sloopy” by the Mccoys, the color version….wowza!
That girl from the McCoys video probably looks like Paula Deen now.
Nah, they survived – by coming up with bras with very thin cups. Put one on and the lady looks like she’s not wearing a bra. Except that she’s not sagging.
There was still a market for bras in the 1970s. Jane Russell hawked bras on television for “full-figured gals” like her, a line that evoked snickers among my high-school classmates.
When I was a kid, there was an old record from the 50s around the house that was a collection of radio and tv “bloopers.” One was a radio ad for a movie that went something like: ” . . . Starring Bob Hope, that comedic star of the screen, and the lovely Jane Russell – boy what a pair!” I never forgot that one.
This reminds me of the classic introduction (actually written by Dick Cavett) said by Jack Paar on The Tonight Show:
“And here they are, Jayne Mansfield!”
I was 3 years old when the original came out, and do not remember any of these details – but, supposedly this was the first movie my parents ever took me to. At the drive-in of all places. When it was over, I cried and cried and cried because I didn’t want it to end.
Even today when I stumble across this cinematic masterpiece being rerun on cable tv, I’ll watch the entire thing.
The truck at the shell station is actually a ’75 or ’76 Toyota Hilux. The side vents give it away. I know, I’ve owned a ’75 for 23 years
Just changed it. Thanks!
Nice job, I know it’s cheesy as heck but I love this movie and still tend to watch it when I see it’s on TV. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen the unedited version though, so I never realized the orignal phrase was “sum bitch”, I always assumed it was worse.
Funny that T/A isn’t on the movie poster, considering it was the obvious star of the show. As a kid that T/A, the General Lee, and KITT were largely responsible for defining my taste in cars and that carries through to today.
I’m still trying to get clarification on what a “diablo sandwich” is though.
From what I have read the artist did the poster rendering from some blown up stills that he was shown from the movie, and none of them for some mysterious reason included the Trans Am, the truck, Reynolds, Gleason, Sally Field, crashing police cars, but no T/A.
A diablo sammich from my understanding is a like a Sloppy Joe but with taco seasoning added in for spice.
S&TB was filmed primarily off Route 400 in Georgia. Burt Reynolds is originally a Georgia boy. With that in mind, I’ll go with what I’ve heard from my Georgia friends, to wit Sheriff Justice’s diablo sandwich is the Macon version, which is made with fried eggs and red hots.
I am pretty sure it was filmed in Florida, when I-75 was under construction so they could use the highways while empty.
And Burt may be from GA originally, but he calls Florida home, which is another reason I heard the movie was filmed here.
I think more of Smokey and the Bandit II and the awful part 3 were filmed largely in Florida, I don’t know if I-75 construction was started by 1976-77, at least the section down to Miami part, when they filmed.
I think you may be confusing the movie Honky-Tonk Freeway with the filming done during I-75 construction near Sarasota. That came out in 1981. I actually remember the construction of that segment of I-75, as it stopped around Tampa prior to that time. The gag with the overpass being blown up was actually a bridge built for the movie on the unfinished highway, and AFAIK, the truck driver who jumps the void ended up breaking his back in the stunt. Some fellow classmates were extras on the film set, and it was a big deal around here at the time.
Misconception by casual novice car fans is that the Trams Am didn’t sell well until “S&B”. As if GM owes them something. ARRGH!
Just like the exaggeration ‘sales went up 700%’. No, the T/A was selling fine before the movie, and the black/gold package dates to 1976, a full year before the movie was out in summer ’77.
That’s all true. But would the black and gold T/As be as desirable today without the movie? I don’t know if I ever saw one in real life at the time, although I was pretty young then. Yet when I think of a 70’s T/A, that’s the one I and I’m sure millions of other folks think of.
The movie is responsible for something, by 1979 Pontiac was selling 100,000 plus Trans Am’s, not the whole Firebird line, JUST Trans Ams, Pontiac sold more T/A’s in 1979 than any of the cheaper Firebirds combined, Smokey and the Bandit had to have a hand in that.
Remember that Smokey and the Bandit was the 2nd biggest movie of the year, right after Star Wars.
The MASSIVE year over year sales gains came from somewhere. 46,000 in 1976, 68,000 in 1977, 93,000 in 1978, 117,000 in 1979. I think even the 2nd gen Camaro enjoyed some of the blast wave from Smokey and the Bandit, 1979 was the best year ever for Camaro’s as well, with over 280,000 Camaros being sold.
Even when the 2nd gen was already coasting on fumes, and defanged, and after the reasonably shitty Smokey and the Bandit sequel, Pontiac managed to pump out 107,000 Trans Am’s in 1980 and 70,000 for the 2nd gen Trans Am’s swan song in 1981.
If they weren’t burning candles to an image of a cowboy hatted Burt Reynolds at Pontiac headquarters. I’d be surprised.
Sure “Smokey” helped, but was not the sole reason T/A and F body sales went up. This was the lull between Gas Crisis I and II, 1976-78, and Boomers were wanting stylish cars.
Chevy brought back the Z28, and can’t say “S&B” was reason. Rockford Files also featured Firebird, and was on since 1974, and F’s sold well despite gas crunch I and inflation.
I just don’t like car novices that assume the Pontiac T/A was soley a “movie tie in” car and the it “started in 1977.”
Jesus, did you just call Carmine a “car novice”? Let me get the popcorn for this one.
There definitely was a “halo” cast around the 2nd gen F-body from its appearance in the movie, which I believe even did extend to the Camaro, which was probably the cheapest way to at least get some of the “Bandit” vibe, where there other factors too, probably, the 70’s, disco, cocaine, mustaches and probably a bunch others….many thought that these car would be the “last hurrah” for anything performance oriented. So these kind of represented a “rebellion” attitude to the government mandated diesel econo hatches everyone thought we were going to be forced to drive in the 80’s……interestingly 1979 was also the best year for the Corvette too.
Well, the Corvette’s success is clearly due to “Corvette Summer”…
@Jim – I remember that movie! And back then what I wanted most of all was a highly customized Vette with exposed headlights. Oh, and a hooker girlfriend that looked like Annie Potts. I only got one of them… LOL
I remember borrowing my brother’s red 1976 T/A to take a girl to the theater to see Smokey and the Bandit. That parking lot was full of Trans Ams!
After the movie did well, Pontiac gave Burt a free Trans Am to drive for a few years.
If I recall correctly, Firebirds in general (along with Camaros) were selling well prior to 1977, but the Trans Am was not the best-selling one.
After the movie came out, Firebird sales increased even more, but the Trans Am was now the most popular one.
“Soon as I get home, first thing I’m gonna do is punch yo mamma in da mouth!”
I think that’s another line they’ve edited out for the television version.
Another one is, “There’s no way you’re from my loins.”
The clips above are unedited versions.
I’m probably in the minority as usual, but I prefer the Black and Gold 50th Anne. S/E T/A with the round headlights. Not that I’d kick either front end style out of the garage for dripping oil, as long as they don’t have the 403 in them anyway.
The 403 Olds T/A was a dog, stock, but with some easily obtained parts, could be turned into a very nice low 13 second tire melter. I still regret selling mine almost 30 years ago. It had the Modello cam kit, ported ’69(I think) heads with upsized valves, headers, aftermarket intake, 3.21 gears (Up from 2.41 stock!) a custom mandrel bent dual exhaust, and the Mondello bottom end plate to stabilize the “windowed” mains. It had amazing throttle response, with a “hit” that either scared people, or made them giggle. The T/A is just as quick as my present Challenger is, but the Challenger doesn’t have anything close to the throttle response it had, and I miss it.
“The $%&#* Germans got nuthin’ to do with it!”
Such a great movie 🙂 I grew up in the 80s, so it was comforting to watch this, Blues Brothers, or Animal House once a week on TBS/TNT
“Round and dumpy”, just like the Colonnade LeMans! Alan Reed was the original voice of Fred Flintstone; Henry Corden only took over after Reed’s death in 1977.
You can see in some shots in the movie that the Bandit Trans Am has 1976 style gold honeycomb wheels instead of the gold snowflake wheels from the 1977, I think at least one of the cars used in filming was a 1976 converted with a 1977 front clip.
I have always loved this movie, watched it dozens and dozens of times on TV, video, DVD, laserdisc, almost any form of media. Jackie Gleason’s Buford T. Justice character is a supposedly an amalgamation of a few characters, including the real Buford T. Justice……there is obviously the Dodge “safety sheriff” from the 1970’s ads, Burt Reynolds father was chief of police of Jupiter Florida, and a friend of his fathers, a Florida Highway Patrol officer was actually the REAL Buford T. Justice.
I imagine that they “borrowed” some of the character from Sheriff JW Pepper from the 1973 and 1974 James Bond movies, Live and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun.
Now then you mentionned Sheriff JW Pepper, I decided to post some Youtube clips of him.
“Secret agent?! On WHOSE side?!”
“We got a cage strong enough to hold you…..”
When I was a kid I thought they were the same person. As I did Steve McQueen and Paul Newman.
We just watched this with the kids the other week, along with Cannonball Run. Good silly fun.
Jason, Using the words “nuance”, “subtlety”, “complexity” and “intellect” to describe this movie, is, as they say, très amusant!
Whaddya expect outta a guy what drives a conversion van? 🙂
Depends upon what he converted it from. Was it a heathen? A blackguard? A dastardly scoundrel? These questions all need to be answered.
Mrs Jason won’t let me sell the sumbitch.
I drive a conversion van. Haul my wife and four shelter adoptee mutts in it. Got Greyhound cutout decals on the rear side windows. Great fun!
I was just tweaking Jason. As a former Club Wagon pilot, I happen to like his Econoline.
Thanks for this, Jason. I will confess that by the time this movie was out, I was a Mopar guy. The LeMans police car did nothing for me because there was a colonnade LeMans sedan in the garage at home. Every idiot with more money than brains wanted a Trans Am.
I will confess, however, that it was a fun movie to watch and I have caught it on TV a time or two in recent years with my kids. I had no idea that it was going to become a 70s classic. I thought at the time that it was a newer version of White Lightning (also with Burt Reynolds) and that Smokey would be forgotten just as soon. I guess the Trans Am proved to have more staying power than the hot 71 Ford in the earlier movie.
My driver’s ed driving range car was an ex-patrol colonnade Pontiac LeMans Enforcer. I remember that it had a bunch of trim badges on the center of the dashboard. They called out equipment like “Radial Tuned Suspension,” “Calibrated Speedometer,” and “Power Disc Brakes.” Maybe even the dual exhausts and the 400-4 merited badges. It was a powerful car, and I was glad to be issued it as my range car instead of one of the new but already disintegrating 1985 Oldsmobiles supplied by a local dealer that most people had. The other range car was a Chevette for people that wanted to learn on a manual transmission. I’d been driving for years by the time I was 15, so I just wanted to complete the course with as little static as possible. I still couldn’t resist lighting up the Pontiac’s tires while executing my T-turns.
I’d like to hear from Mr. Needham why so many of those police cars had what look like shaker hood scoops. Were they dummies?
I was a junior high school age kid when this film came out. I never understood why dragging a truckload of beer from Colorado to Georgia was such a big deal. I’ve since read on the internet that it wasn’t illegal so much as a practical thing with it being shipped in refrigerated trucks. Coors wasn’t pasteurized. And Coors itself limited its distribution to west of the Mississippi. But that doesn’t make for an interesting movie premise.
Unfortunately he passed away a few months ago or that would have been a great question to ask.
It was something regarding distribution limits. All I know is, at the time, if you lived in the east, Coors was some really special beer not unlike microbrews are now. And then they made the biggest mistake of their lives and went to national distribution. This movie just showed how much an urban legend the supposed unobtainability had become.
And all of us easterners suddenly discovered it was nothing more than another Budweiser/Miller/etc. Amazing how a combination of desire and unobtainability can make an ordinary product special.
It wasn’t distributed in Washington in those days either. A guy we knew drove his half-ton pickup from western WA to his reserve 2-week stint in his home state in California. He had quite a few orders for Coors beer, and when he stopped in Weed, CA, on the way home, he went into the Safeway and asked for twenty-four cases of Coors. The checker, not batting an eye, “Do you want that chilled?”
We stopped in that same Safeway later on the way back home from southern Cal, and they had a huge display of cases of Coors out on the floor near the checkstands.
I was in the Air Force during this era, stationed in California. One time a friend and I drove back to Kentucky on leave rather than flying; no particular reason, we had plenty of time and wanted to see some of the country. Anyway, on the trip east, we stopped at a grocery in Topeka, Kansas and bought 16-18 cases of Coors, all that we had room for in the car. The cashier never batted an eye as she sold us the mass quantities of suds. Ironically I never really cared all that much for Coors, I don’t think it has much flavor, but it was well received when we got to Kentucky.
There was a true concern (for some minuscule reason) about it going east of the Mississippi River. I grew up in Illinois, within eyeshot of the banks of the MIssissippi River, and ten miles from Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Coors was legal in Missouri and illegal in Illinois. My family did all grocery shopping in Cape. I distinctly remember my mother buying Coors and being asked if she lived in Missouri or Illinois by the cashier. Of course, nobody else cared if it was in the trunk of the car when heading back home.
Wouldn’t the accent give you away? I developed a pretty good bootheel accent during my time in New Madrid
That is an excellent question. From living there for my first two decades, I noticed the accent didn’t get going good until around Sikeston (not “Saxton” as it would seem) and it progressed as you went deeper into the Bootheel. Cape was far enough north that it was watered down and there was so much cross-pollination with the Illinois side you really didn’t discern much difference.
That said, an uncomplimentary accent does exist. I have worked a long time to eradicate the one I had but it still crops up periodically from exposure, like you experienced.
I agree, despite people saying ‘you sound cute,’ it seems like they think ‘Ellie Mae Clapett’ or ‘Jethro Bodean’.
Mine’s never gone away, especially now that I spend every thee month in Memphis. Despite growing up next to Cape, most of relatives are from the Mid-South.
Jana, another oddity was that I could go to Carbondale and be asked where down south I was from. Conversely, I could go to Paducah and be asked where up north I was from. It made no sense to me as it was fifty miles north and fifty miles south.
I was in West Plains the other day and there is yet another variation of it there. It’s weird how it works.
The cop cars with the hood scoops were ex-DeKalb County (Georgia) cruisers. The scoops were added by the department because the engines ran so hot.
Below is probably another DeKalb County cop car. This movie was filmed in Georgia as well.
According to Wikipedia, the second movie was able to get away with destroying an INSANE number of brand-new Pontiac LeMans police cars because Pontiac had them sitting around in the southwest region, having been sent to a rental fleet in Phoenix without a/c.
Always loved this movie growing up. I remember reading somewhere that one of the cars was equipped with a 455 for some of the higher speed scenes. Over many viewings I noticed some scenes the car would skate around and take off like an animal while in others there were one-tire-fires and it would struggle to get going. I recall a big smokey burnout right after they left Snowman’s house that looked 455-worthy and also after Bandit picked up Fields he left two strips after nailing second (right before the tire thieves crossed the road), which makes me think there was also a 4 speed car used. Apparently the engine sounds were lifted from another movie, I think two lane blacktop?
Supposedly there was a stick car for the burnouts and an automatic car for other shots. Most of the shots that show Reynolds and Field in the car talking were filmed with the T/A being towed along on a lowboy trailer.
I recall reading somewhere that the Trans Am that did the bridge jump had a tweaked Chevy 350 in it with a stick, and of course that it was WO after the jump.
If you notice there are several different angled skid marks on the road in the scene where the Bandit picks up Frog, you can see that they did a couple of takes of the T/A skidding to a stop and taking off again. I’m pretty sure that the car that “barks” second when he takes off with Frog had to be a stick.
I dunno about the Foley sounds, I have a T/A with a 400 and an open/no catalytic true dual exhaust, and it sounds really close to how the Bandit car sounds at idle during some scenes from the movie.
Some of the more recent DVD releases of it redid all of the engine sounds and it sounds much more mellow than the original(not happy about that).
I was 10 when this movie came out and I loved it then and I still do. I loved the fact that Jackie Gleason’s brown Lemans had a blue vinyl interior and it even had the luxury cushion steering wheel! AWESOME!
S&B is one of my all-time favorite movies and Im not apologizing.
A couple of years ago, I was sitting around on a lazy Saturday afternoon and it was on TV. I started cruising through EBay and the next thing I knew I won the auction for a clean 400/4 speed/T-Top 78 Trans Am. Frog not included.
I had a ’78 “Trigger” lookalike for a while in the mid 90s, until a wrist pin went out, ended up selling it to one of my brother’s buddy’s uncles.
I really enjoyed this discussion. I own all three films on a dvd called the Smokey and The Bandit Pursuit Pack. you can find it on amazon.com . I also own a Etrl replica of the Pontiac Bonneville Buford T. Justice drove in Smokey and The Bandit II. I also own a 1:18 scale version of the Bandit Trans Am.
I am indeed a fan. It airs on cable tv all the time. I prefer Buford T. Justice’s 1980 Pontiac Bonneville and his 1983 Pontiac Bonneville in Smokey and The Bandit III. The films are indeed classic and very funny to this day.
Hal Needham did pass away as someone earlier said. They destroyed all those cars in the films he said. That is why there are not any left. I know that Trans Am that jumped that bridge broke the axle when it landed. Jackie Gleason ad libbed a lot of his lines too.
Smokey and The Bandit II promo:
Buford T Justice compilation:
This is how I rate them
1-Smokey and the Bandit-The classic, the original, and the best one by FAR. No more needs to be said.
2-Smokey and the Bandit II-Pretty bad, still has some funny campy crap, the Dom DeLuise Italian Dr. bit is ok, Gleason is still pretty funny, the Turbo T/A is pretty weak, but still cool to see.
3-Smokey and the Bandit 3-A crime against humanity, not even LSD can make it watchable since you spend the whole night fighting imaginary flying cobras with Jackie Gleasons head on them.
I saw worse then Smokey & the Bandit 3.
One guy did a while ago a fan-made trailer of “Smokey & the Bandit 4”.
And lets not forget the Trans Am rental car Steve McQueen drove in his very last movie, “The Hunter” from 1980.
Mr. Reynolds made a bunch of low budget films before this , all had wild chase scenes with cop cars crashing & going into swamps .
” Gator ” , Stroker Ace ” , lots of them .
” J.J. & The Dixie Dance Kings ” was a milder one that had (I think) a ’56 Buick Century .
I fondly remember lots and lots of terrible B grade movies @ the drive in in the early to mid 1970’s all featuring cars racing , smashing and so on …
Thanx for the memories .
I think Stroker Ace is after Smokey and the Bandit, though there was Hooper, which was about a stuntman, it also had Sally Field, it was from 1978 or so. Reynolds was the top box office draw from 1975 to 1982, then his movies really started to go downhill.
Stroker Ace is after S&B, 1983, and features the then new for ’83 aero Fox Body Thunderbird. Have the movie, cheesy as hell, but does have appearances by several NASCAR drivers of the day, including Dale Earnhardt (Senior, not Jr) Kyle Petty, Harry Gant, and one of my favorites of the era, Tim Richmond. Reynolds and Needham owned the Skoal Bandit team at the time, so getting these other drivers to appear probably would not taken much more than a six pack of beer and a hug from co-star Loni Anderson 🙂
It’s “W.W. and the Dixie Dance Kings”, and Burt’s car was a ’57 [’56?] Olds 88.
“W. W.” is a mouthful for a ‘nickname’.
I beg to differ Mr -Nate. Mr. Reynolds elevated the dreck that he appeared in to a higher level, that is, enjoyable. Gotta love that guy!
Please to note I didn’t say _I_ didn’t like them as I was in my 20’s then (early 1970’s) so I hustled my self and my Russian girlfriend right on down to the cinema every time Burt Reynolds had a new flick , I personally loved his movies even the chick flicks like ” The Man Who Loved Women ” , I just had to hear earfuls from everyone else about how awful he / those movies were…..
We even bought one of those Pontiac Police Specials on auction from…. Duarte or maybe ir was Arcadia , it was white with a red & blue pinstripe , we dropped $400 (an ungodly sum back then) on a re paint and pin striping but could _not_ sell that wretched POC , it took us two years IIRC .
Back then if I’da wanted an ex Police Car it’s be a CHP salvage Dodge or Plymouth ~ BIG roomy and _comfy_ , handled well and went like stink .
They retained the white steering wheels until ’72 or so , just the thing to preveny burned fingers in the Desert sun .
Plus , I loved those late 1960’s through mid 1970’s Plymouths even though I’m a Bowtie Guy by default .
Did I mention how much I enjoy reading all the back stories and niggly details I can only get here ? .
I’ve always wanted some sort of de-commission/ex unmarked cop car, something from the 70’s preferably.
Just do a search for Crown Victorias on your local CL. In my area, nearly every one listed is an ex cop car.
There’s really nothing like an old cop car. I enjoyed the hell out of my 1976 Dart Pursuit. My favorite would have been an ex-WSP 1970 Plymouth – they were all Fury III’s, white on blue with factory air and 440’s under the hood; but none ever turned up when I was buying.
I looked at a Bluesmobile worthy 1977 Plymouth Grand Fury, the big ones, it was an ex Florida Highway Patrol car, but it had a pretty good amount of rust and it was pretty beat. I’ve also looked at a Fox based LTD cop car and an early 1991 whale Caprice 9C1 detective model, burgundy on burgundy cloth.
Back in 1984, I went to look at a late 1970s Plymouth cop car as well. It cornered amazingly well for such a large car, but the posi rear end emitted ominous sounds so I passed on it (I was in college and didn’t have any place to do major repairs). Gas was a buck a gallon at the time so fuel economy wasn’t a major issue.
I ended up buying a 1969 Cadillac ambulance a year later!
Somebody locally is selling a Regis Plymouth Fury ex Florida Police with gasping 318 V8, he will for the right money toss in a 440 with it.
Nice article Jason – I was a fan of this movie when it came out – I look back now and think, wow, did I really think this was entertainment??????
Gleason was a genius, but this was not one of his better outings – I prefer the Hustler and Gigot.
Wild…I watched this for the first time in years after watching the latest “Archer”….the whole thing is an homage to S&B. Great article!
Cool write up and still shots Jason!
This movie came out during my early formative years – pre grade school. “Trigger” had a big impact on my taste in cars with the Trans Ams of the late 70’s being my favorite. I have since moved on from them, mainly because in stock form, they were not particularly great cars (though good enough for the times). Of course, it wasn’t hard to wake them up. I did help a friend rebuild a late 60’s 400 to replace the anemic 301 in his 79, Trans Am. And the 400 Pontiac or 403 Olds versions could be made to run well.
I am still drawn to the shape of these cars, and others that have that long and low look about them. MN12 Thunderbirds had the same appeal to me, for similar reasons.
So many classic quotes in this movie. I always think “scumbum” because when I watched it as a kid in the early ’90s, it was usually on TBS.
“You scumbum! You did that on purpose!!”
“Put the evidence in the car.”
“Put the evidence in the BACK!”
Great write up. I’ve always loved this movie.
“Cause they’re thirsty in Atlanta
And there’s beer in Texarkana….”
Always a favorite. Here in Canada they didn’t censor it, so we always got the “sumbitch” version.
In 1976-78, while a high school student in Norwalk, CT, me and a few buddies would routinely drive up to Vista, NY, which was just over the state line. The little packy there had Coors and even though it was horribly expensive, we thought it was the elixer of the Gods…. (it did taste a lot better than Bud as I recall). These were the cans with the two circular push buttons on top instead of pull tabs. Somehow this store had a regular supply.
If it wasn’t for “Smokey & the Bandit,” the “Dukes of Hazzard” TV series would not exist.
Actually, there were 2 future “Dukes” stars in the movie:
– Ben Jones (Cooter) was in an early scene helping Big Enos find Bandit
– Sonny Shroyer (Enos) was the motorcycle cop who was given the 1-finger salute by Sally Field.
A black Trans Am is parked in my garage because of this movie. Smokey & The Bandit is the greatest movie of the 20th Century! The uncut version is the best. The dubbed version is awful. Gleason probably wanted too much money to provide the dubbing, which is a shame because it ruins the TV version.
The dubbed version isn’t as bad as the Remastered Blu-ray. I don’t know whose idea was to replace the wicked Two Lane Blacktop Chevy sourced engine sound effects with an authentic 200 horsepower muffled smogger 400, but that sumbitch is a scumbum!!!
Probably the most famous TV edit of all time is “I have had it with these monkey-fightin’ snakes on this Monday-to-Friday plane!”
And there’s this nugget from the director of the coming new Shazam movie;
I first watched “Smokey” on quiet swing shifts from the driver’s seat of a 1977 Pontiac Le Mans patrol car, parked by thr back fence of the drive-in theater at the far end of town. It had an AM transmitter and you would tune in the sound on your AM car radio, or on my case, on a transistor radio. It took four evenings to see almost all of the movie in bits and pieces.
Probably the most interesting thing about this movie and Burt Reynolds is that he is not originally a Southern boy at all – he was actually born in the Wolverine State – Lansing, Michigan to be precise. Most reports of his death still didn’t have that right!
One of our favorite movies. I have at least 4 really good car buddies that will from time to time love popping this movie in to watch. The original uncut “sumbitch” version. Gleason has a treasure trove of hilarious lines and it was this movie that started my love affair of cars back in the early 1980’s.