Smokey & the Bandit: Remembering Burt Reynolds

Stratis Bohle and Aidan Herklotz

With the passing of Burt Reynolds, one of the most prolific screen actors of the 1970’s, we reviewed one of Reynolds most famous film: Smokey & the Bandit. The film was the 2nd highest grossing film of 1977, with it losing the number one spot to Star Wars.

The film was written and directed by Hal Needham, a stunt actor who was friends with Reynolds. Reynolds stated in an interview, he was given the premise on a napkin. Originally planned to be a B-Budget film with Jerry Reed as the Bandit, with Reynolds joining the film bumped it to a major release.

In the film, Burt Reynolds’ character Bandit is an infamous truck driver with his partner Cledus, played by Jerry Reed. At a truck show, Bandit is made an offer to bootleg a truckload of Coors beer from Texas to Georgia, in 28 hours. On the way back from picking up the cases of Coors, Bandit picks up a runaway bride, Carrie. She was to marry Junior, the son of Sheriff Buford T. Justice of Portague County. Sheriff Justice realizing where the bride went and makes chase on the Bandit, leading a chase far from his jurisdiction all the way to Georgia.

With the film having a 96 minute runtime, it allows for a fun time watching the Black Pontiac Trans-Am evade Sheriff Justice all throughout the old south. The film has its own colorful cast with Burt Reynolds as the titular Bandit, Jerry Reed as Cledus, Sally Field as Carrie, and Jackie Gleason as Sheriff Justice.

Now the 70’s were a weird time where your film was “too much” and got an R rating, or just a PG rating, with no PG-13 rating existing until 84′. If the film were released today, it would most likely receive a PG-13 rating due to its humor which is certainly for an older audience.

The film truly lived up to its hype as one of the best films of the 70’s and I laughed my butt off. Burt Reynolds was the best in his role especially in the chemistry with Sally Field. Jackie Gleason’s role was one of my favorite since The Honeymooners rerun. Overall the film is one of the few films that made me laugh so hard that I couldn’t breath.