Smokey and the Bandit (1977)

smokey and the bandit poster 1977 movie
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Just a fun, light movie

Could have had more adventures

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Smokey and the Bandit

Studio:  Universal Pictures/Rastar Films

Genre(s):  Romance/Comedy/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):  May 19, 1977 (Premiere)/May 27, 1977 (US)

MPAA Rating:  PG

smokey and the bandit snowman cledus jerry reed burt reynolds

Want to do something that’s never been done?

“Big Enos” Burdette (Pat McCormick) and “Little Enos” Burdette (Paul Williams) have a challenge for Bo “The Bandit” Darville (Burt Reynolds) that he says has never been done…smuggling Coors beer from Texarkana, Texas to Atlanta, Georgia in twenty-eight hours.  Teamed with his longtime driving partner Cledus “The Snowman” Snow (Jerry Reed), the Bandit is on a race against time, but when he picks up a runaway bride named Carrie (Sally Field), he brings the law down on himself.  Sheriff Buford T. Justice aka “Smokey Bear” (Jackie Gleason) had his son Junior (Mike Henry) stood up at the altar, and no one makes a fool of Buford T. Justice.

Directed by Hal Needham, Smokey and the Bandit is a comedy chase movie.  The film received mostly positive reviews and became a sleeper hit.  It received an Academy Award nomination for Best Film Editing.

Growing up, Smokey and the Bandit was one of the “series” movies that dotted the childhood.  You didn’t have to see Smokey and the Bandit to know about Smokey and the Bandit…and with a CB in the car and road trips abound in the late ’70s and early ’80s, Smokey and the Bandit was a classic.

smokey and the bandit bo darville carrie frog sally field burt reynolds hat

You’re going to make me take my hat off…

The film is as bare bones as you can get.  It is simply a chase movie with the bad guy Smokey (aka the police) trying to stop the Bandit (aka the hero).  Smokey is amoral and not even trying to stop the Bandit for the right reasons…it is pride.  You know that the Bandit will win but you keep watching.  It does feel like there are more twists and turns that they could have put into the movie (I always feel that extending the time of the beer run would have led to more traps and plot time)…but it is a quick fun ride.

This is peak Burt Reynolds.  His smile and laugh goes a long way to make the Bandit character likeable…despite people generally sneering and jeering at speeding big rigs on the highway in real life.  Sally Field is charming as the likeable “Frog” who is caught up in the race while Jerry Reed is rather bland as the Snowman.  Jackie Gleason is arguably the star of the show as the cantankerous Buford T. Justice who gets all he deserves as scripted.

smokey and the bandit sheriff buford t justice jackie gleason

Nobody makes a fool of Sheriff Buford T. Justice!!!

The movie is a lot of fast and fun car chases with the Bandit leading the charge in his durable black Pontiac Trans Am.  The movie also reminds you that 1970s PG is a big difference from 2000s PG with a lot of language and scenes that remind you how much the cinema has changed.

Smokey and the Bandit is a 1970s classic in that it is one of those “just fun” movies.  It has no real weight or conflict, and zaniness ensues.  It feels like a more modern version of a screwball comedy with a bit more thought and discussion.  It also feels like a time capsule of a movie that presents (now) a time gone by…which in itself is kind of sad.  Smokey and the Bandit was followed by Smokey and the Bandit II in 1980.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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