It's no Southern film classic on the plane of “To Kill a Mockingbird” or “Gone with the Wind,” but “Smokey and the Bandit” still hauls in a truckload of good-ol'-boy fun more than three decades after it became a box-office hit.
In honor of its 100th anniversary, Universal Studios is offering this year special reissues of some of its catalog titles, sending the laid-back, musically inclined car-chase comedy skidding onto Blu-ray. The Bandit's glossy black Pontiac Trans Am, his bright red shirt and the Georgia locations look clean and vivid in high-definition.
Primarily a showcase for Burt Reynold's considerable charisma and trademark '70s 'stache as well as director/co-writer Hal Needham's stuntman experience, “Smokey and the Bandit” spawned a series of copycats and sequels with ever diminishing returns. But judged on its own merits, the movie may be dated but boasts a charming, capable cast that is clearly having a ball playing such colorful characters, plus plenty of zippy chases, zany crashes and cheeky redneck humor.
In his signature role, Reynolds stars as Bo “Bandit” Danville, a cocky driving ace who isn't afraid to bend or break the law. Rich wheeler-dealers Big Enos Burdette (Pat McCormick) and his son Little Enos (Paul Williams) bet Bandit $80,000 that he can't haul 400 cases of Coors beer from Texarkana, Texas, to a big celebration in Georgia in just 28 hours. The catch is that the job isn't strictly legal; at the time, transporting Coors east of the Mississippi River constituted bootlegging.
Recruiting his good-natured pal Cledus “Snowman” Snow (country music star Jerry Reed) to drive the big rig, the Bandit takes the wheel of a spiffy new Trans Am and the role of blocker. He will keep local lawmen, or “Smokies,” along the trek occupied with his reckless hot-dogging, clearing the way for Snowman and his illegal cargo.