Big and Little Enos are opening a sea food restaurant. They bet Sheriff Buford T. Justice that he cannot drive from Miami to the Enos ranch in Texas in a given amount of time. If Buford loses he has to give up his badge.
A wide variety of eccentric competitors participate in a wild and illegal cross-country road race. However, the eccentric entrants will do anything to win the road race, including low-down, dirty tricks.
Bandit and Cledus are two truck-driving southerners who accept a dare from big-shots Big and Little Enos to pick up a truckload of beer from Texas and return it to them within a specified amount of time. Picking it up is simple enough, but as they are leaving Texas, Bandit unwittingly picks up Carrie, a hitchhiking bride-to-be who just left her groom, Junior, at the altar. Junior, however, is the son of Sheriff Buford T. Justice. And when Buford and Junior discover what has happened, they go on a "high-speed pursuit" across the Southeast to catch the bandit. Written by
In the restaurant just before Jerry Reed gets beat up by the bikers, he picks up the telephone and presses 10 numbers and says "Hello? Operator?" He would have only needed to dial zero to speak to the operator. See more »
Hey, we really ought to pay somebody for that mess we made.
[Hands Cledus notepad and pen]
I got that all figured out. Just tell em to send the bill to Big Enos Burdette.
[Gets in car and drives off]
[writing a note]
Send bill to Big Enos Burdette; Burdette; B, Ber, B-u-r...
[sees Bandit take off]
Hell, I got to go!
[leaves without finishing note]
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"Snowman what's your 20, you got your ears on, comeback? We got a Smokey convoy on our tail moving eastbound and down, with the peddle to the metal and the thing to the floor". If any of that makes sense to you it means one of two things. Either you were a young male in the late seventies who dressed in cowboy boots and drove a trans-am... or you have seen the film Smokey and the Bandit.
Smokey sees classically trained thespian Burtrand Reynolds essay the role of the Bandit, a mythical, almost Quixotesque figure, who cuts across the American landscape in a black Pontiac firebird, the ultimate phallic representation of male dominance. The densely layered plot sees Bandit become involved in a quest of Arthurian proportions, attempting to do "what they say can't be done". As it goes, there's a drought in old Atlanta, and the fine townsfolk are gagging for some liquid refreshment for the upcoming monster-truck derby. Luckily, Bandit hears that there's beer in Texarkana, and sets out across country to bring it back... no matter what it takes.
Director Hal Needham, surely an auteur of Hitchcockian proportions, keeps the first act moving along at a steady pace, and there is always close attention paid to characterisation. However, it is in act two that things really get interesting, for no sooner has the Bandit and his ever-faithful slave... sorry, sidekick Snowman loaded up the truck with the brew... than they are set upon by a runaway bride (Sally Field), a fleet of southern law enforcers, and the formidable Sheriff Bufred T. Justice (Jackie Gleason), whose catchphrase "that sun' bitch" proved to be as lastingly funny as a dose of the clap. From this point on tension is cranked to eleven, with more jaw-dropping moments than the entire Indian Jones series combined. Don't believe me, take the scene where Bandit attempts to jump the bridge... if this doesn't have you standing on your seat screaming "go bandit go... yee-haw", then quite frankly nothing will.
Bandit is one no-nonsense jive-talker, an enduring character whose down with the kids (and the blacks), making him one fine example of a true southern gent. We never doubt our hero will fail at his mission, especially not with the benefit of hindsight, since Bandit managed to evade the law and return for the imaginatively titled Smokey and the Bandit II. Here his bounty was an African elephant that, understandably, had the hots for the moustachioed one. Then there was the third instalment, which had a script so bad Reynolds himself turned it down. Here the sh*t-kickers formula was repeated... just without the kick. Smokey and the Bandit is, admittedly, not high art. It's not even low art. But it does represent some kind of period piece, a history lesson, or the pinnacle of late seventies cinema.
Your enjoyment of the film depends on your first viewing experience. If like myself, you were a young boy growing up in the mid-eighties, you will have no doubt lived for the endless thrills, spills, car crashes and second-rate jokes that pepper Bandit, and its two sequels. It's easy to laugh at now, and a young audience will probably be left scratching their heads at the sight of Burt Reynolds mugging uncontrollably to the camera for ninety-minutes whilst Jerry Reed gets to 'sing' his good ol' boy theme tune 'East-bound and Down' for the one-millionth time, but there is a perverse pleasure in seeing bell-bottoms, grown men with CB radios and muscles cars the size of small houses, the likes of which most people won't have seen since 1982. 3/5
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