memories of the ’70s – Smokey and the Bandit

Smokey And The Bandit Poster.jpgIn 1977, actor Burt Reynolds kicked off a movie franchise that would showcase America’s love for beer, fast cars and being lawless: Smokey and the Bandit.

Written and directed by Hal Needham, the original concept for the film was a B movie with the director’s pal Jerry Reed playing the title role.

But when Burt Reynolds read the script, he wanted to play the Bandit.

The premise: two wealthy Texans want to bring Coors Beer from west to east, and need to find a fast driver to make it happen under the nose of the Smokey, which was CB Radio slang for the police, as the beer wasn’t found east of the Mississippi.

Big Enos (Pat McCormick) and Little Enos (Paul Williams) approach driver Bo “Bandit” Darville (Reynolds) to haul 400 cases of the precious beer from Texarkana to Georgia in 28 hours.

Darville hires his buddy Cledus “Snowman” Snow to drive the truck while he will drive the blocker, a diversion to keep the police away from the illegal beer transport. The blocker: a 1977 black Pontiac Trans-Am.

Going west to the pick-up the beer is uneventful except for one lone police officer, but on the way back, Bandit picks up a runaway bride (Sally Field), a prickly Sherriff Buford T. Justice and his son Junior (Jackie Gleason and Mike Henry) and assortment of odd characters – undertaker, drive-in waitress, brothel madame, a senior citizen and a convoy of trucks.

Needham capitalized on many popular themes of the 1970s – fast cars, CB radios, southern stereotypes and a movie that was one long car chase back to Georgia so Big Enos and Little Enos could celebrate winning at the racetrack.

As well, Needham originally given a budget of $5.3 million was told he was losing $1 million by Universal Pictures. He persevered, editing and finishing the film with less staff to make it happen.

Released on May 27, 1977,  the 96 minute film was made for US $4.3 million, and thanks to Reynolds moniker as an A list actor, the film was a hot hit with movie fans. As well, Reed’s song, East bound and Down, the film’s theme song, became a hot hit as well as Reed’s signature song.

Thanks to the wisecracking Reynolds and the ad-libbing style of Gleason, the film went on to make a cool US $300 million at the box office, and was the second highest-grossing film of 1977, after that other blockbuster: Star Wars.

And the film spawned sequels on the big screen and on television. America loves it Bandit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1977, actor Burt Reynolds kicked off a movie franchise that would showcase America’s love for beer, fast cars and being lawless: Smokey and the Bandit.

Written and directed by Hal Needham, the original concept for the film was a B movie with the director’s pal Jerry Reed playing the title role. But when Reynolds read the script, he wanted to play the Bandit.

The premise: two wealthy Texans want to bring Coors Beer from west to east, and need to find a fast driver to make it happen under the nose of the Smokey, which was CB Radio slang for the police, as the beer isn’t found east of the Mississippi.

Big Enos (Pat McCormick) and Little Enos (Paul Williams) approach driver Bo “Bandit” Darville (Reynolds) to haul 400 cases of the precious beer from Texarkana to Georgia in 28 hours.

Darville hires his buddy Cledus “Snowman” Snow to drive the truck while he will drive the blocker, a diversion to keep the police away from the illegal beer transport. The blocker: a 1977 black Pontiac Trans-Am.

Going west to the pick-up the beer is uneventful except for one lone police officer, but on the way back, Bandit picks up a runaway bride (Sally Field), a prickly Sherriff Buford T. Justice and his son Junior (Jackie Gleason and Mike Henry) and assortment of odd characters – undertaker, drive-in waitress, brothel madame, a senior citizen and a convoy of trucks.

Needham capitalized on many popular themes of the 1970s – fast cars, CB radios, southern stereotypes and a movie that was one long car chase back to Georgia so Big Enos and Little Enos could celebrate winning at the racetrack.

As well, Needham originally given a budget of $5.3 million was told he was losing $1 million by Universal Pictures. He persevered, editing and finishing the film with less staff to make it happen.

Released on May 27, 1977,  the 96 minute film was made for US $4.3 million, and thanks to Reynolds moniker as an A list actor, the film was a hot hit with movie fans.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About Waheeda Harris

A pop culture junkie with a penchant for exploring our planet.
This entry was posted in Pop culture and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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