This period of cinema was a golden age for a young boy growing up who was fascinated with cars and the first ever social network, the good old CB radio. How many of you like me, pretended to be the Bandit or the Rubber Duck when out on their bikes? I even had a CB radio in my bedroom and would talk to the truckers doing the Ireland-Europe route as they drove past the 5 mile radio my biscuit tin setup would reach. Happy days.
Burt Reynolds defines the genre wonderfully with his first outing as the Bandit, in this classic cops’n’robbers chase across state lines. The premise for the story is so woefully thin, that it quickly falls apart with any close inspection. We have 2 wealthy business men, who for a bet, want to bring a truck load of Coors beer from a state where it is illegal to run it across. So Reynolds, the Bandit, takes up the challenge with his truck driving friend, Cledus (Jerry Reed) to go and fetch the beer and bring it back.
The idea being that the Bandit will be the lead car, in a black trans-am, to give the truck a clear run to the prize.
Along the way though, they pick up a runaway bride, in the guise of a very beautiful and young
Sally Field. Reynolds has recently spoke about his regret of letting Field slip through his fingers and it was the one true love in his life that he lost.
There is no doubt about it, their on screen chemistry is perfect as they fall in love with each other and you can easily see how this was translated to the real world.
The real star of the movie is
Jackie Gleason who plays the Texas sheriff that chases the bandit across the state lines. Field’s, Frog, turns out to be his would-be daughter-in-law had she gone through with the marriage to his dimwitted son, who is also along for the ride.
I really don’t want to pick apart the story line, because that is like pulling back the curtain and realizing Santa isn’t real and there is no tooth-fairy. Some things should just be accepted on face value and be played along with.
Smokey and the Bandit is a perfect father-son movie for a wet weekend afternoon. No fancy special effects, no obscenities just car stunts and witty one liners. The followup movie, was actually a little better in my view, but I’ll do that one at a later date.
Good senseless fun.
#89 in the series
Sunday, 15th November 2015 (Richmond)