There was a time when Coors Beer was not available east of the Mississippi. Any attempt at carrying the beer across that big ole river was considered Bootlegging! And who better to take on the challenge than the Bandit. But things get out of hand when he picks up a wandering bride who just walked out on her fiancé, the son of Sheriff Buford T. Justice. It turns into a game of chess as Ole Buford is in Hot Pursuit.
Got it? Well, it doesn't matter. This film is not about story. It's about fast cars, notably a black Trans Am and the destruction of as many police vehicles as can be done in and hour and a half, the more humiliation the better. The film was helmed appropriately enough by longtime stuntman Hal Needham who keeps the action rolling. But it is the charismatic performers that make this film such a success. Burt Reynolds is at his confident best as the Bandit. He easily catches the eye of the adorable Sally Field. ("You Like me, you really, really like me") And even country singer Jerry Reed gives us some good comic relief when the romance begins to boil.
But, if truth be told, it is the late, great Jackie Gleason's turn as the vulgar, grammatically challenged Justice that makes the film work and work well. He commits totally to bringing ole Buford alive and even makes logically challenged material work. Like the occasional car flying off the ground and landing atop a truck for no apparent reason.
This simple story, Smokey and the Bandit, was one of the first films to topple the financial record held by GONE WITH THE WIND. Now, its numbers are nowhere to be found on that listing, but still it was an excellent feat. From its initial run, I'm sure Universal Pictures was ready to cash in with a sequel or two!