Smokey and the Bandit



96 Min

Smokey and the Bandit


A race-car driver named Bandit makes a bet that he can transport an illegal shipment of beer from Texas to Atlanta in under 28 hours. Along the way, he picks up an unwilling bride-to-be, furthering his chances of being arrested. It turns out her future father-in-law is Sheriff "Smokey" Justice, and his boy is waiting for her at the altar. A car chase ensues as Smokey scours the South in pursuit of Bandit.

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May 19th, 1977


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  • Jackie Gleason reportedly modeled his character, Sheriff Buford T. Justice, after Burt Reynolds' description of his father, a Georgia sheriff. Among the character traits that came from this was the use of "sum bit" instead of "son of a bitch". Gleason later stated that one of his greatest joys was learning that people in the Deep South had picked up using "sum bit" from the film.
  • When Sheriff Justice first meets Sheriff Branford (a black man) he first addresses his white deputy as the sheriff, before remarking to Sheriff Branford "You sounded a lot taller on the radio." This is similar to a scene in The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974), when Walter Matthau first encounters Inspector Daniels (also a black man) in person, by telling him "Oh, I thought you were, uh, a, uh, shorter guy..."
  • According to MapQuest, Atlanta to Texarkana is 665.2 miles, with an estimated travel time of 10 hours, 43 minutes (21:30 round trip). Atlanta to Boston is 1089 miles with an estimated travel time of 17 hours, 31 minutes. If driven the whole way, it would require an average speed of 121 miles an hour to do it in the 28 hours mandated by the "double or nothing" but the terms of the bet didn't specify how they were to get to Boston and certainly not how to return so they could have driven to the airport and bought round-trip tickets.
  • When Hal Needham originally wrote the initial screenplay, he hired Jerry Reed to play the Bandit. But when Needham told Burt Reynolds about the film, Reynolds decided he wanted to do it and Reed was re-cast as the Snowman.
  • According to Hal Needham on a radio show in Atlanta, the scene with the football players narrowly missed being a serious accident when, unknown to the film crew, a groundskeeper watered the grass on the field, causing the car to go out of control, slide the wrong way, and almost hit the extras.
  • Jackie Gleason said the cafe scene with himself and Burt Reynolds was not in the original story, it was Gleason's idea.
  • This movie is one of a handful of pictures that Burt Reynolds made with his 1970s girlfriend Sally Field. In every movie they made together, Field played Reynolds' girlfriend. The movies are: Smokey and the Bandit, Hooper, Smokey and the Bandit II and The End.
  • Many of the lines spoken by Jackie Gleason as Sheriff Justice were improvised.
  • Near the end of the movie, one of the two Georgia State Patrol cars that block the entrance to the fairgrounds (the Oldsmobile) is equipped with an airbag (very rare for the '70s). The airbag did not deploy in that minor collision but did deploy when they purposely wrecked the car years later. That car is shown in an airbag safety film used in some traffic schools.
  • Buford T. Justice was the name of a real Florida Highway Patrolman known to Burt Reynolds' father who was once Chief of Police of Jupiter, Florida.
  • Ronnie Gay, Lamar Jackson and Quinnon Sheffield were real Georgia State Troopers at the time of the filming of the movie.
  • This movie made the Pontiac Trans Am a superstar. Trans Am sales jumped from 68,745 in 1977 to 93,341 in 1978. And just one year later that number swelled to 117,108 units sold.
  • The name / word Smokey is C.B. slang for sheriff.
  • The dog chosen for Snowman's pet was picked by Burt Reynolds, chiefly because he refused to obey commands.
  • Pat McCormick (Big Enos Burdette) was only 13 years older than Paul Williams (Little Enos Burdette).
  • Was a Guilty Pleasure of Alfred Hitchcock according to his daughter Patricia Hitchcock
  • The second highest grossing movie released in 1977 next to Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope
  • Hal Needham was better known in the film industry as a stunt man, and had great difficulty in getting any producers interested in this project. Only when his close friend Burt Reynolds agreed to star in the film did he manage to gain studio attention.
  • The Trans-Am used for the bridge jump was fitted with a Chevrolet engine, according to Hal Needham.
  • According to director Hal Needham in the DVD Documentary, Pontiac gave them two Trans-Ams and three Bonnevilles (Sheriff Justice's patrol car) for the film. Needham says that one of the Trans-Ams was completely destroyed during the famous bridge jump scene and that with all the damages the Lemans sustained, they eventually had to piece all three bodies together to make one Bonneville.
  • When scenes were filmed in the Trans Am, it was not possible to use a slate to mark the beginning and end of scenes. The actors had to clap their hands instead to mark when a scene started and ended. Several outtakes show this being done.
  • On the DVD Documentary, Burt Reynolds says that a senior executive at Pontiac promised him a free Trans-Am if the movie became a hit. It did and the 1977 T-Top Trans-Am became one of the hottest selling cars of the year. When the movie became a hit, Reynolds expected the executive to come through with his promise. But the Trans-Am never came. After a few months, Reynolds, who was afraid of looking like one of those pretentious stars looking for freebies, finally called Pontiac. As it turned out, the exec who made the promise had retired and the new exec refused to honor the deal.
  • In the original screenplay, Bandit's last name is LaRoue (first name never mentioned), Carrie's name was Kate, Cledus' handle was simply just Bandit II, Big Enos and Little Enos' names were Kyle and Dickey, Junior was not a character, Buford's name was different, Bandit's car was not a Trans Am, and the reward for making the run was a new truck, not $80,000.
  • Hal Needham asked Jerry Reed to write a theme song for the film. A couple of hours later, Reed presented "East Bound and Down" to Needham. With an acoustic guitar, Reed started to play it and Needham immediately stopped him. Thinking Needham didn't like it, Reed offered to re-write the song. To which Needham replied: "If you change one note, I'll kill you!" The song went on to become one of Reed's biggest hits.
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