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 Smokey And
 The Bandit 

 (1977)


  by
  CEJ




 
Running Time
: 96 mins.
 
Aspect Ratio: 1:85: 1


  Directed by:
Hal Needham
  Produced by:
Mort Engleberg &
  Robert L. Levy

  Screenplay by:
James Lee Barrett,   
  Charles Shyer,
  Alan Mandel

  Story by:
Hal Needham,
  Robert L. Levy

  Director of Photography:
  Bobby Byrne
  Edited by:
Walter Hanneman & 
  Angelo Ross

  Art Direction:
Mark W. Mansbridge
 Second Unit Dir.: Alan Gibbs
 Special Effects: Art Brewer



 
Music by:
Bill Justis & Jerry Reed
















Cast:


Burt Reynolds: Bo Darville ("Bandit")
Sally Field: Carrie ("Frog")
Jerry Reed: Cledus Snow ("Snowman")
Jackie Gleason: Sheriff Buford T. Justice ("Smokey Bear")
Mike Henry: Junior Justice
Pat McCormick: Big Enos Burdette
Paul Williams: Little Enos Burdette
Linda McClure: Waynette
Macon McCalmon: Mr B.
Susan McIver: "Hot Pants"
George Reynolds: Sheriff Brandford
Lamar Jackson: "Sugar Bear"
Laura Lizer Sommers: Little Beaver
Michael Mann: Brandford's Deputy







Synopsis:


      Wealthy businessmen, Big Enos Burdette and his son Little Enos, offer legendary trucker Bo "Bandit" Darville $80.000 to haul 400 cases of Coors 1,800 miles from Texarkana to Georgia in 28 hours.  The reason so much money? - transporting Coors into certain states is bootlegging.  Bandit recruits good buddy Cledus "Snowman" Snow; and with a high powered Trans Am he drives as "blocker" (distracting police attention), their marathon through Arkansa, Mississippi and Alabama begins easily. 


     That is till Bandit picks up runaway bride Carrie ("Frog"), then becomes the object of a fast and funny manhunt carried out by Texas "County Mounty" Sheriff Buford T. Justice and his son Junior - Carrie's jilted fiance. 




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* SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT was the directorial debut of legendary stuntman Hal Needham, a veteran of classic films such as THE GREAT RACE, CAMELOT, OUR MAN FLINT, THE BRIDGE AT REMAGAN, BLAZING SADDLES and CHINATOWN, as well as the TV series HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL, THE RAT PATROL, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE, STAR TREK and DAN AUGUST (with Burt Reynolds).  He and Reynolds became good friends over the years working together on the films 100 RIFLES, THE MAN WHO LOVED CAT DANCING, THE LONGEST YARD, WHITE LIGHTNING, GATOR, and W.W. AND THE DIXIE DANCEKINGS.



* The original story for SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT was concocted by Needham after an incident during the filming of the WHITE LIGHTING sequel GATOR, when a unit driver brought cases of Coors from LA to the Florida shoot, and a hotel maid was caught stealing much of it.  Her reason - she was unable to acquire it otherwise as Florida was a "non Coors" state.



* At the time of SMOKEY's inception as a story, Needham had been "temporarily" living with Reynolds for 12 years!  His stay was originally to be a few weeks while the stunt coordinator regained his footing after a traumatic divorce.  SMOKEY was originally conceived as a low budget film to star Reynolds' friend, singer-songwriter / actor Jerry Reed, who had worked with the star previously on W.W. and GATOR. 


When Reynolds agreed to take the role of "Bandit" and legendary entertainer Jackie Gleason the part of "Smokey", Universal / Rastar decided to then produce it as a major release. 









* Needham had originally wanted western actor Richard Boone (THE ALAMO, BIG JAKE, THE SHOOTIST) for the part of "Smokey Bear" Sheriff Buford T. Justice.  But he and Reynolds eventually realized as inconic a persona the actor possessed, he didn't have the comic timing necessary for the role. 


Gleason improvised 80% of his comic dialog, including the famous put-down of his son Junior, "I can't believe you came from my loins.  When I get home the first thing I'm gonna do is punch 'yo mamma in the mouth!".



* Gleason based his pronunciation "sumbitch!" on the manner in which Reynolds father, a former cop, pronounced the phrase "son of a bitch".  After the release of SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT, "sumbitch" entered the national lexicon.  For network TV airings, "sumbitch!" was re-dubbed with "scum bum!";  the later phrase proving so popular with kds, toymaker Hot Wheels in 2007 issued a Bandit-like Pontiac with the words emblazoned across it's tail.  



* At the time of SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT, Sally Field was best known for TV performances on popular series such as GIDGET, THE FLYING NUN, and THE GIRL WITH SOMETHING EXTRA.  The previous year she garnered critical acclaim for her performance in the TV movie SYBIL, the fact based story of a woman with multiple personality disorder.  Based on it's success and the worldwide financial success of SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT, Field shot to the top of Hollywood's "A" list of actresses, within the next decade garnering accolades for performances in NORMA RAE, ABSENCE OF MALICE, PLACES IN THE HEART, MURPHY'S ROMANCE and STEEL MAGNOLIAS.   


* Fields and Reynolds became a couple over the next five years.  They'd co-star in the sequel SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT 2, as well as in HOOPER and the dark comedy THE END.  At the time she'd say of Reynolds, "What I look for in a man is humor, honesty and a mustache; Burt has all three".  






* The roles of Big Enos (the towering Pat McCormick) and Little Enos (the diminutive Paul Williams) were cast as a result of THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JOHNNY CARSON.  Reynolds was a frequent guest on the late night gab-fest series, as was award winning singer-songwriter Williams ("We've Only Just Begun", "Rainy Days And Mondays", "An Old Fashioned Love Song").  McCormick was one of TONIGHT's primary writers, and Reynolds one day noticed the humorous sight of the two of them side by side at the craft services table. 





* Carrie's jilted groom - Sheriff Justice's son Junior, was portrayed by
Mike Henry, who between 1958 - '64 had been a linebacker with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Los Angeles Rams.  After the NFL he'd appeared in numerous TV series including 77 SUNSET STRIP, THE ADVENTURES OF OZZIE AND HARRIET, THE BOB NEWHART SHOW, THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN and DAN AUGUST (with Reynolds).  He'd also star in the film TARZAN AND THE VALLEY OF GOLD (as Tarzan), and also appear in RIO LOBO, SKYJACKED, and in the Reynolds prison football classic THE LONGEST YARD.  


* While Reynolds' "T"-top Firebird Trans Am had been around for years, sales of the muscle car increased 700% after the release of SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT.  In gratitude, Pontiac agreed to give Reynolds a new Trans Am every model year for life ... none of which he ever received.  When the Pontiac president who made the promise died shortly thereafter, the promise died with him. 



* For the film's signature disabled bridge "jumping" stunt sequence, the Trans Am's engine wasn't powerful enough to garner enough thrust for the leap, so a Chevy engine was substituted within the chassis.






* Singer-songwriter Jerry Reed wrote three songs for SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT - "The Legend" (the film's "Main Title" track), "The Bandit", and "East Bound And Down" (the final version co-credited with Dick Feller).  "East Bound" would become the country star's signature hit.  It would be re-recorded over the years by artists as diverse as Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops to the rock band Tonic.  Reed wrote the early version of the song in one evening during the shooting of the film, then played it on guitar the next day for director Needham, who was blown away. 



* The instrumental music score for SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT was composed by Bill Justis, who had a #2 Billboard hit in 1957 with the instrumental tune "Raunchy".  He was also a producer at the legendary Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee, where he arranged and lead studio bands for Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Charlie Rich and Jerry Lee Lewis.  

Check out: our "Bear Mann" YouTube Channel TunePlay suite of music and images from the SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT soundtrack by Justis and Reed. 




* Cledus' basset hound "Fred" (who rides with him in the passenger side of his KW semi) was found during a hastily put together "dog show" wherein local residents could bring their pooch to a contest judged by Reynolds, director Needham and an audience.  The "show" idea came about when the film makers realized they couldn't afford a professional "acting" dog and a trainer.  Every dog pound in town was emptied the day of the "show". 


* The only stunt mishap during the entire shoot was a sequence wherein Sheriff Justice's LeMans police cruiser attempts to pass Snowman's Kenworth rig on the left, but instead gets caught in the grill of the semi, dragged, partially crushed, then shoved to the side of the road.  No stunt drivers were hurt, and the breathtaking ("WTF! ...") sequence remains in the final cut of the film. 



* A near mishap occurred during the scene where Bandit's Trans Am bursts from the woods, soars through the air and lands on a school football field while a game is in progress.   Not realizing the field was wet, when the vehicle hit the turf, the driver found himself skidding with as much control as if he'd landed on a sheet of ice.  As the vehicle barely missed hitting the child football players and dugout, many parents thought it was all planned that way.
 






* Universal originally didn't have a great deal of faith in SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT's cross cultural appeal, planning only to open the film in the South.  When it became a huge hit in many eastern and western cities, the original prognostications proved wrong. 



* SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT opened May 27th, 1977 -
two days after STAR WARS!  Taking in $127 million, it became 1977's second biggest box office smash behind the George Lucas adventure.  As with STAR WARS it would also inspire a number of "spin offs" including two film sequels and a series of 1990's BANDIT TV movies starring Brian Bloom: "BANDIT'S SILVER ANGEL", "BEAUTY AND THE BANDIT", "BANDIT GOES COUNTRY" and "BANDIT, BANDIT, BANDIT".   









* Film Editors Walter Hannemann and Angelo Ross were nominated for a 1977 Academy Award for SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT.  And the film has since made three AFI (American Film Institute) "Top 100" lists: 1)"100 YRS. ... 100 LAUGHS", 2) "100 YRS. ... 100 THRILLS, and 3) "100 YRS. ... 100 HEROES AND VILLAINS", with Bo "Bandit" Darville as one of the most popular cinema heroes of all time.

* For a lifetime dedicated to the advancement of the craft and safety of on screen stunt design and execution, SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT's director / stunt coordinator, Hal Needham, was presented in 2012, with a coveted "Governor's Award" by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.  He was introduced by lifelong admirer Quentin Tarantino.   

* Upon first meeting Burt Reynolds, lifelong admireer - Arkansas-born actor/writer/director Billy Bob Thornton, joked ...

... "Y'know, down south SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT is a documentary". 


                                                                                                                                    CEJ      









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