Welcome to Motorized Movies! A new series I’ve devised to take a look at the various automotive-themed movies of this world, as well as others that just seem to feature a lot of interesting cars, period (gotta work on that opening)! I decided to cook up this format as something to do on the side while working on automotive writing elsewhere, as well as school and work and other things. That means that this will only be a side project with only occasional updates, that is if the reception is good enough.
I figured that this would be a cool endeavor for me to take up, as I’m no stranger to writing about cars, as you all know from my various posts on here. But what some of you may not know, is that I also run a movie blog on the side.
Behind the Box Office is a self-made and edited project that I’ve been working on since early 2018, and even though it’s currently on a short hiatus due to lack of time (and motivation because there really haven’t been many good movies to come out), it’s one of my greatest creations. However, I’ve decided to share this project with OppositeLock only. You guys are such an engaging community and I feel like most of you will really appreciate this type of content.
So, without further adieu, let’s sit back, grab a bucket of popcorn, and talk about Smokey and the Bandit!
Today’s movie comes to us from the space year 1977, a year that brought us such greats as Star Wars and The Spy Who Loved Me, but this movie is quite a lengths away from those big tickets in quite a few different ways. Director Hal Needham had originally conceived this movie as a simple B market movie, with “Snowman” actor Jerry Reed taking up the role as the titular Bandit. However, when the late Burt Reynolds read the script and announced his plans to star, Needham decided to go for a wide-release market.
The making of the film was relatively straightforward and cheap. The original script, written on a legal pad, was noted to be, “the worst script I’ve ever seen,” by Reynolds, but still went on to produce, and throughout the rest of the production, all of the actors and crew slotted their way into place. Although Needham had issues getting many Hollywood producers to take the film seriously, he did manage to work them over, and by the end of it, production took off and wrapped up in early 1977.
The decision to use a new 1977 Pontiac Trans Am as the titular car of the movie was simple. Needham had seen an advertisement for the yet to be released redesigned 1977 Trans Am and knew immediately that it had to be Bandit’s car. He contacted Pontiac and they struck a deal to donate a few Trans Ams and Le Mans sedans for use as Buford T. Justice’s sheriff cruiser. There was an underlying issue, however, since the 1977 Trans Am had yet to be released. The company instead sent a slew of 1976 Trans Ams, which were fitted with 1977 front bumpers to complete the look.
Snowman’s truck were put to the screen through use of three Kenworth W900A short-frame trucks (two 1974s and a 1973), which were modified with unique paint and matched to a custom trailer by Hobbs trailers in Texas. The Cadillac Eldorado convertible used by the Burdette twins which Bandit and the gang use to escape at the end of the film was a Candy Red car donated by GM, and was not modified for its use in the film.
The movie itself is a cute and intriguing, yet somewhat straightforward story about the titular Bandit (Burt Reynolds) undertaking a mission to deliver a load of then-illegal Coors beer from Texarkana, TX to Atlanta, GA within a short period of time. Along the way, Bandit runs into the spunky Carrie (Sally Field), A.K.A “Frog,” a runaway bride who hitched along for the ride just so she can get the hell out of dodge. However, with this addition, Bandit also gains the attention of Sheriff Buford T. Justice (Jackie Gleason), a ruthless and somewhat absurd Texas sheriff who demands to bring Bandit to justice. While Justice chases Bandit back to home base, hijinks ensue, leading to a hilarious hour-and-a-half of quick wit and fast thinking.
Since the time of its release, this movie has become one of the utmost staples of comedic car films. Railing on it and calling it any less than spectacular would be somewhat of a shame, as it is an insanely charming piece of cinema. But, I do like to be honest with my reviews...but honestly, I can’t really find many issues with this film as a whole.
Smokey and the Bandit has seemingly aged gracefully, even if most of the ideas at that time period have come to past. I feel as though the comedy in general is what keeps this movie so fresh, as it takes it from being some absurd movie of the 1970s to a semi-period piece satire with all its side jokes about the Southern culture of the time. Every performance in the movie is on point, from the big guns such as Burt Reynolds and Jackie Gleason, to the side characters and even split second cameos from others in the universe. It’s a hilarious thrill ride from start to finish, and if there’s any of you who somehow haven’t seen it yet, you must give it a watch. That might just be the nostalgia talking, though.
Overall, Smokey and the Bandit is a classic piece of automotive cinema, showcasing a time when most cars were only as good as the folks who drove them, and the motormouths behind the wheel. I give it a respectable 7.9/10 for managing to bring many a smile to my face, and still managing to stay somewhat relevant to this day. Anyway, I hope that you all enjoyed the first episode of Motorized Movies. If you have any suggestions or comments, feel free to put them forward. Otherwise, I’ll see you next time!