Smokey and the Bandit (1977)

PG | 96 mins | Comedy | 19 May 1977

Director:

Hal Needham

Producer:

Mort Engelberg

Cinematographer:

Robert Byrne

Production Designer:

Mark Mansbridge

Production Companies:

Rastar Productions , Universal Pictures
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HISTORY

The summary for this entry was completed with participation from the AFI Academic Network. Summary was written by participant Susan Etheridge, a student at University of California, Los Angeles, with Jonathan Furner as academic advisor.

End credits include the following written statement: “Our thanks to Governor George Busbee, State of Georgia; Ed Spivia, The Georgia Department of Industry and Trade; and to the Georgia Department of Public Safety for their cooperation in making this film.”
       The premise for Smokey and the Bandit was based on the real-life unavailability of Coors Banquet Beer outside the eleven Western and Southwestern U. S. states where it was sanctioned to be sold at the time. According to an 11 Feb 1974 article in Time magazine, Coors was not pasteurized, contained no preservatives, and therefore required refrigerated delivery trucks; the family-owned Adolph Coors Co. reportedly had no intention of expanding distribution east of Oklahoma, as of the 11 Feb 1974 article. Special air deliveries of the beverage were famously made to President Dwight Eisenhower at the White House in Washington, D.C., and a man named Frederick Amon was convicted of transporting the beverage from Dallas, TX, to Charlotte, NC, where he sold it to vendors for as much as one dollar per can.
       An 18 Aug 1976 LAT news item reported that Smokey and the Bandit was one of several movies set for production that prominently featured Citizens’ Band (CB) radio; others included director Jonathan Demme’s Handle with Care, then titled Citizen’s Band (1977, see entry), and producer Robert M. Sherman’s Convoy (1978, see entry). In the May/Jun ... More Less

The summary for this entry was completed with participation from the AFI Academic Network. Summary was written by participant Susan Etheridge, a student at University of California, Los Angeles, with Jonathan Furner as academic advisor.

End credits include the following written statement: “Our thanks to Governor George Busbee, State of Georgia; Ed Spivia, The Georgia Department of Industry and Trade; and to the Georgia Department of Public Safety for their cooperation in making this film.”
       The premise for Smokey and the Bandit was based on the real-life unavailability of Coors Banquet Beer outside the eleven Western and Southwestern U. S. states where it was sanctioned to be sold at the time. According to an 11 Feb 1974 article in Time magazine, Coors was not pasteurized, contained no preservatives, and therefore required refrigerated delivery trucks; the family-owned Adolph Coors Co. reportedly had no intention of expanding distribution east of Oklahoma, as of the 11 Feb 1974 article. Special air deliveries of the beverage were famously made to President Dwight Eisenhower at the White House in Washington, D.C., and a man named Frederick Amon was convicted of transporting the beverage from Dallas, TX, to Charlotte, NC, where he sold it to vendors for as much as one dollar per can.
       An 18 Aug 1976 LAT news item reported that Smokey and the Bandit was one of several movies set for production that prominently featured Citizens’ Band (CB) radio; others included director Jonathan Demme’s Handle with Care, then titled Citizen’s Band (1977, see entry), and producer Robert M. Sherman’s Convoy (1978, see entry). In the May/Jun 1978 issue of Film Comment, the film’s star, Burt Reynolds, discussed his decision to give friend Hal Needham his first “break” directing Smokey and the Bandit. Reynolds noted Needham’s qualifications, including his “fabulous taste” and earlier successes as a second unit director and stunt coordinator.
       Principal photography on Smokey and the Bandit was slated to begin 30 Aug 1976 in GA, with a production budget of $4.5 million, as cited in an 18 Feb 1978 Toronto Globe and Mail article. An 18 Dec 1976 LAT brief noted that filming had recently completed in Atlanta, GA.
       Although a 15 Dec 1976 LAT item announced that actor-country singer Jerry Reed, who played “Cledus,” wrote the film’s three songs, Reed only received writing credit for “Eastbound and Down” and “The Legend.”
       According to a 16 Oct 1977 LAT article, the original promotional campaign, which was a success in the U. S. South, was replaced by a “more sophisticated approach” in New York City; however, the second campaign did not result in improved box-office grosses. Regardless, the film became a “surprise hit,” as stated in a 24 Dec 1977 LAT news brief, earning over $40 million in domestic rentals, and was “the second highest grossing film of 1977,” according to a 3 Dec 1978 LAT article.
       Walter Hannemann and Angelo Ross received Academy Award nominations for Film Editing, and Sally Field received a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical.
       A 23 Mar 1977 LAT “Film Clips” column reported that a sequel was already in development. Smokey and the Bandit II was released in 1980 (see entry), and reteamed director Hal Needham with principal cast members Burt Reynolds, Jerry Reed, Sally Field, and Jackie Gleason. Smokey and the Bandit – Part 3 (1983, see entry) was directed by Dick Lowry; Gleason and Reed reprised their roles in the third film as the two leads, with Reynolds making a brief cameo appearance. A 16 Jan 1994 LAT article stated that Needham had recently directed four made-for-television-movie spinoffs of Smokey and the Bandit, which were shot over seventy-two days in North Carolina with a budget of $2.5 million per film.
       In 2007, the “Bandit Run” was organized by fans of the film to commemorate its thirtieth anniversary, as reported in a 27 May 2007 NYT article. Over the course of three days, two hundred participants traveling in eighty-five cars followed the 660-mile route between Texarkana, TX, and Atlanta, GA, that the “Bandit” and Cledus traveled in the film.
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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Film Comment
May/Jun 1978
pp. 16-21.
Hollywood Reporter
18 May 1977
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
18 Aug 1976
Section G, p. 10.
Los Angeles Times
30 Aug 1976
Section F, p. 7.
Los Angeles Times
15 Dec 1976
Section H, p. 22.
Los Angeles Times
18 Dec 1976
Section B, p. 6.
Los Angeles Times
23 Mar 1977
Section F, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
29 Jul 1977
p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
16 Oct 1977
Section T, p. 40.
Los Angeles Times
24 Dec 1977
Section B, p. 7.
Los Angeles Times
3 Dec 1978
Section P, p. 45.
Los Angeles Times
16 Jan 1994
p. 6.
New York Times
20 May 1977
p. 8.
Time
11 Feb 1974.
---
Toronto Globe and Mail
17 Feb 1978
Section P, p. 18.
Variety
18 May 1977
p. 16.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
2d unit dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2d unit photog
2d unit photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
MUSIC
Mus ed
SOUND
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Titles & opt eff
MAKEUP
Make-up
Make-up
Hair stylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Transportation capt
Scr supv
Casting
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
"Eastbound And Down," by Dick Feller and Jerry Reed, sung by Jerry Reed
"Bandit," by Dick Feller, sung by Jerry Reed
"The Legend," by Jerry Reed, sung by Jerry Reed.
DETAILS
Release Date:
19 May 1977
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 19 May 1977
Los Angeles opening: 29 July 1977
Production Date:
began 30 August 1976 in Georgia
Copyright Claimant:
Universal Pictures
Copyright Date:
30 March 1978
Copyright Number:
PA1655
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
96
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
24818
SYNOPSIS

At the Georgia State Finals Truck Rodeo, Big Enos and Little Enos Burdette challenge the legendary driver, “Bandit,” to transport 400 cases of Coors beer from TexArkana, Texas, back to Georgia within twenty-eight hours, promising to pay him $3,000 an hour if he completes the task. Bandit informs the men that transporting Coors beer east of Texas is considered bootlegging and illegal, but they are aware of that fact. At last, Bandit accepts the bet but demands a new Pontiac Trans Am, planning to use it as a diversion while his friend Cledus “Snowman” Snow transports the beer in a large rig. However, Cledus is opposed to the idea of bootlegging and refuses to be involved. Bandit convinces his friend by telling him they will earn $80,000, enough to buy a new rig. Driving a brand-new Pontiac Trans Am out of the rig’s trailer, Bandit explains to Cledus that the Trans Am will serve as a “blocker,” diverting law enforcement away from the rig. Arriving at the Coors plant in TexArkana, Smokey and Cledus easily break into the building, steal 400 cases of beer, and load it onto the rig using a forklift. Soon after, the two vehicles speed down a country road on their way to Georgia. Bandit almost runs into a hitchhiking runaway bride who jumps into his car and orders him to drive away. As vandals drive up to the bride’s car and begin to disassemble it, Sheriff Buford T. Justice and the bridegroom, his son Junior, intervene. Justice bullies the vandals into revealing Bandit’s automobile and license plate information. Meanwhile, Bandit and the bride get to know each other. She tells him her name ... +


At the Georgia State Finals Truck Rodeo, Big Enos and Little Enos Burdette challenge the legendary driver, “Bandit,” to transport 400 cases of Coors beer from TexArkana, Texas, back to Georgia within twenty-eight hours, promising to pay him $3,000 an hour if he completes the task. Bandit informs the men that transporting Coors beer east of Texas is considered bootlegging and illegal, but they are aware of that fact. At last, Bandit accepts the bet but demands a new Pontiac Trans Am, planning to use it as a diversion while his friend Cledus “Snowman” Snow transports the beer in a large rig. However, Cledus is opposed to the idea of bootlegging and refuses to be involved. Bandit convinces his friend by telling him they will earn $80,000, enough to buy a new rig. Driving a brand-new Pontiac Trans Am out of the rig’s trailer, Bandit explains to Cledus that the Trans Am will serve as a “blocker,” diverting law enforcement away from the rig. Arriving at the Coors plant in TexArkana, Smokey and Cledus easily break into the building, steal 400 cases of beer, and load it onto the rig using a forklift. Soon after, the two vehicles speed down a country road on their way to Georgia. Bandit almost runs into a hitchhiking runaway bride who jumps into his car and orders him to drive away. As vandals drive up to the bride’s car and begin to disassemble it, Sheriff Buford T. Justice and the bridegroom, his son Junior, intervene. Justice bullies the vandals into revealing Bandit’s automobile and license plate information. Meanwhile, Bandit and the bride get to know each other. She tells him her name is Carrie, and he responds that his “handle” is “Bandit” but his real name is Bo. Shortly after Bandit outruns a police car that pursued him for speeding, Justice catches up to the Trans Am in Arkansas and threatens Bandit over the Citizens’ Band (CB) radio. Seeing Justice’s patrol car, Bandit wonders what a Texas policeman is doing across the state line. Cledus runs Justice off the road with his truck. Justice radios to other law enforcement units that he is in pursuit of a black Trans Am, and Sheriff George Branford responds, suggesting that Justice allow local authorities to handle the situation. Bandit and Carrie narrowly avoid a roadblock set up to capture them, and lead the police on a high-speed chase, during which Bandit jumps his car over a broken bridge. Branford’s car crashes into the water, and Justice stops behind him. Bandit and Carrie reluctantly part ways at a bus depot where she plans to board a bus to New York City. At the depot’s food counter, Justice places an order as he stands beside Bandit without recognizing him. Bandit engages the sheriff in conversation, then runs away the moment Justice goes to the bathroom. Outside, Bandit looks for his car and finds Carrie in the driver’s seat. She reveals that she would rather stay with him than get on the bus. Speeding away recklessly, Carrie leads Justice on another chase and manages to drive around a large piece of concrete being transported by a truck. Unable to do the same, Justice and Junior drive under the concrete and the top of their car is ripped off. Ending up at the same truck stop as Carrie and Bandit, Justice misses them again, then puts out an all points advisory, alerting law enforcement that the Trans Am is heading into Alabama. Carrie and Bandit soon encounter another roadblock, which Bandit drives around by heading off-road. After Bandit and Cledus decide to take a break, Bandit and Carrie stop in the woods, where they discuss their compatibility and kiss. At a truck stop restaurant, Cledus gets into a fight with some motorcyclists who claim that his dog bit one of them. The bikers throw Cledus out, prompting him to run over their motorcycles with his rig. Bandit and Cledus reunite over the CB, agreeing that they need to hurry. A prostitute calling herself “Foxy Lady” tells Bandit over the CB that she is diverting the Alabama police who are pursuing him. Justice overhears Bandit’s conversation with Foxy Lady and heads to the prostitute’s recreational vehicle off the highway, thinking he will find Bandit there; instead, he mistakenly arrests an Alabama police captain before the man is identified by one of his troopers. Meanwhile, Bandit coordinates with a truck convoy that provides him cover while an Alabama State Patrol car zooms past. Pulled over by a motorcycle cop, Cledus radios Bandit for help, and Bandit backtracks to rescue his friend. Carrie and Bandit whistle to the motorcycle cop, provoking him to follow them instead of issuing a ticket to Cledus. Bandit leads the motorcycle cop and several Georgia State Patrol officers through Georgia back roads. Over the CB, Bandit asks a local waitress called “Hot Pants” for assistance, and she rallies a group of teenagers to intercept the chase and block Bandit’s pursuers. As a police helicopter flies overhead and a growing number of troopers follow them, Carrie becomes concerned, so Bandit radios Cledus, suggesting they give up. Only four miles from their final destination, Cledus refuses to quit and plows through a line of police cars, clearing a path for the Trans Am. Cledus, Bandit, and Carrie pass cheering crowds as they arrive at the Georgia State Finals Truck Rodeo. Just in time to drop off the beer, Bandit demands a getaway car and the $80,000 they are owed. However, Big Enos wagers “double or nothing,” challenging the group to drive to Boston, Massachusetts, pick up clam chowder, and return within eighteen hours. Jumping into Burdette’s Cadillac convertible, Bandit takes the bet. Bandit radios Buford T. Justice and compliments him on the chase as he passes the sheriff. Justice asks Bandit’s whereabouts, and, leaving Junior behind on the rodeo grounds, races after the Cadillac. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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