Smokey and the Bandit (1977)

Smokey and the Bandit (1977)

“What we are dealing with here is a complete lack of respect for the law.”

After two truckers — Bandit (Burt Reynolds) and Cledus (Jerry Reed) — accept a proposition to haul beer illegally across state lines, they pick up a hitchhiking bride (Sally Field) running away from her wedding, and are pursued by her jilted fiance (Mike Henry) and his sheriff-dad (Jackie Gleason).

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Burt Reynolds Films
  • Car Chase
  • Cat and Mouse
  • Comedy
  • Sally Field Films
  • Truckers

Stuntman-turned-director Hal Needman made his directorial debut with this box office hit — the second highest grossing film after Star Wars (1977) — starring real-life couple Burt Reynolds and Sally Field. Thankfully, Reynolds and Field have chemistry to spare, and help move the romantic angle of this jam-packed car chase flick along nicely.

Gleason is as blustery and pompous as his one-dimensional role calls for:

… while country-western singer-songwriter Reed does nicely in his crucial supporting performance:

… and diminutive Paul Williams (villainous Swan from Phantom of the Paradise) is well-cast as the shorter half of a pair of big-wheelers who book-end the film.

The real stars of this show, however, are the powerful Trans Ams (three were used during filming) and all the helpful truckers who save the day time and again for Bandit and his mates.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Burt Reynolds and Sally Field’s chemistry
  • Many impressive stunts
  • A fun fourth-wall-breaking moment
  • Bill Justis and Jerry Reed’s score

Must See?
Yes, once, for its historical significance.


  • Historically Relevant


4 thoughts on “Smokey and the Bandit (1977)

  1. First viewing (5/21/22). Not must-see.

    Popcorn movie that was very popular on its release. I guess it’s supposed to be a comedy – but the humor is… thin. Lots of car crashes and the like.

  2. I changed my vote on this to once-must after reading about its immense popularity, but would agree the humor and screenplay are thin.

  3. A film’s popularity – in itself – says nothing to me about a film’s merit, esp. when it comes to mainstream popcorn flicks like this one. I can’t tell film fanatics that a movie is must-see when it’s this weak. … That said, tons of people love movies like this, obviously, but tons of people are very easily pleased.

  4. Ultimately, this film represents a time and place and was a big box office hit, critically (largely) well received and is revived and discussed today. The vast majority of people who see films aren’t interested in any perceived artistic merit and this one is simply a good crowd pleaser and one of Reynolds’ biggest hits and as such is probably must see. I’ve not seen it for over 40 years but remember it fondly.

    It’s also famed stuntman Needham’s directorial debut and both the Bandit and first Cannonball Run films were big financial hits. Basically a 1970s version of Abbott and Costello and as such Bandit is a must at least once.

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