Smokey and the Bandit (1977) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • The Bandit is hired on to run a tractor-trailer full of beer over state lines, in hot pursuit by a pesky sheriff.

  • 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.

  • In the summer of 1976 "Big Enos" Burdette, a flamboyant Texan aspiring to political office in Georgia, needs a vast quantity of beer for a rally, but the brand of beer he wants is Coors which at this time cannot be legally transported across the Mississippi, and at least one attempted shipment has already been intercepted by police. To get this job done, Burdette recruits modern day moonshiner Bo Darville, nicknamed Bandit for his previous exploits, for a hefty six-figure payment. Darville in turn recruits his pal Cledus Snow and his eighteen-wheeler for the job, entailing driving from Georgia to Texas, picking up 400 crates of Coors beer, and returning to Georgia, all in a span of twenty-eight hours. To draw off the heat of snooping state police, Darville will drive interference for Cledus in a hot Pontiac Trans-Am, the two of them maintaining contact via citizen's-band radios and the seemingly bizarre lingo used within. The trip to Texas and loading of beer goes without interruption, but the trip back to Georgia begins to pick up complications when Darville is stopped by a runaway bride, Carrie, who is fleeing a forced marriage to the son of a full-of-himself Texas county sheriff, Buford T. Justice. Sheriff Justice's pursuit of his prospective daughter-in-law soon becomes an interstate high-speed pursuit involving police from four states and also the intervention of varied interstate truckers aiding Darville and Cledus as they close on Enos Burdette's Georgia bash.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Bo Darville, aka The Bandit, is a semi-retired trucker legend, working in a trucking rodeo. He is approached by a shady father and son tycoon team (Big and Little Enos Burdett) who are planning a big party. Only problem is, in 1978 America, due to arcane liquor laws, it was illegal to ship Coors beer east of Texas...and the Burdetts wanted some for their Atlanta, Georgia shindig. 400 cases of it.

    The Burdetts offer The Bandit $80,000 dollars to get the brews in Texarkana, Texas and bring them back to Atlanta in 28 hours. Enter Cledus Snow, "The Snowman." Bandit convinces Cledus to drive the beer truck, while he will run blocker--distracting Smokey, just like in their heyday. With Cledus convinced, the decoy is revealed...a 1977 black Pontiac Trans Am with gold eagle paint scheme, one of the most iconic automotive symbols in American film history.

    Like the Battle of Troy is to Odysseus, securing of the brew is just the beginning. Now, they just gotta get it home. How hard could that be? They would have made it with hours to spare, save for their paths crossing with the disruption of the wedding of the soon to be blushing new couple, Deputy Buford T. and Mrs. Carrie Justice, Jr. Seems the almost-Mrs. Justice got second thoughts at the altar, and "danced back up the aisle", apologizing to Junior all the way. On her way out of the church, she flags down the first car to pass...Bandit Darville's Trans Am. She hops in, wedding dress and veil (for awhile at least), flapping in the T-tops. She introduces herself to The Bandit, who eventually names her Frog, as she's prone to hoppin'. Hey, you try getting out of a wedding train in a 70s American muscle car going 110 miles an hour.

    Back at the Justice wedding, the father of the groom is beside himself with rage. As he exits the church, Sherriff Buford T. Justice--OF TEXAS!!--is informed that the harlot who has embarassed him in front of his town sped away at harrowing speeds...in a black Trans Am. The pursuit is on!!

    Cledus is making good time in the beer truck, although an unscheduled swim with his co-pilot (Bassett Hound Fred) and a truck stop fight with a group of grizzled bikers lose him valuable minutes. Meanwhile, chemistry is sparking up ahead between Bandit and Frog. He even takes his hat off, which he only does for one thing...and one thing, only. As Texas turns to Arkansas, suddenly something becomes apparent...Sherriff Justice is still in pursuit, and he loses another marble with each new insult to his police vehicle.

    Many, many police cruisers are destroyed. An unfinished suspension bridge is jumped...and then, not. Diablo sandwiches. The rocking chair. Hot Pants. Finally, the entire Georgia State Police force, complete with helicopter, join the chase. In a stunning climax of events, the deadline is met...and the money is collected from Enos and enos. OK, not really. A double-or-nothing deal is struck for some Boston clam chowder (in 18 hours), and off run Bandit, Frog, and the Snowman in their new candy apple red Cadillac. Bandit, via the police band of his ever-present CB, finally presents himself to Buford...eventually. Tipping him off to their next destination, they speed away...heading north to New England. Sherriff Justice peels out of the parking lot, leaving Junior behind...obediently chasing Daddy. Who else, after all, is going to hold his hat?

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