Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Smokey and the Bandit

Hal Needham was a famed Hollywood stuntman and racing enthusiast who passed away near the end of last month and was a beloved figure by all accounts. Referencing his extensive background, he wrote a screenplay which he went on to direct that became one of the smash (emphasis on the word smash) hits of the 1970s. Smokey and the Bandit is essentially a ninety minute car chase telling how the plucky Bandit (Burt Reynolds), on a dare, runs blocker in his souped up Trans Am for his buddy (Jerry Reed) as they transport 400 cases of Coors from Texas to Georgia ("that's considered bootleggin' in these parts") with a calvacade of cops in pursuit, led by the irascible Buford T. Justice (Jackie Gleason), and with a firecracker runaway bride in tow (Sally Field). The film is fun for awhile, with amazing stunt and chase sequences not to mention some pretty stunning scenic photography, but wears thin thanks to a country fried, uninspired script, a disappointing performance from Gleason, and a wooden Reynolds who has the charisma of a log. Field is impossibly cute, adding life to the picture, and the plot referencing songs, which are provided on the soundtrack by Reed, are unintentionally hilarious.