Sunday, February 13, 2011

Smokey and the Bandit

Smokey and the Bandit; Action comedy, USA, 1977; D: Hal Needham, S: Burt Reynolds, Sally Field, Jackie Gleason, Jerry Reed

Skillful truck driver "Bandit" Darville is approached by the Texas tycoon Big Enos and his son Little Enos who make him an offer: if he manages to pick up 400 packages of beer from Texas and transport it safely back to the rodeo in Georgia in 28 hours, bypassing the police since it is forbidden to ship alcohol east of Mississippi, he will get 80,000 $. Accepting the challenge, Bandit drives with his fast car in front of the slow truck driven by his partner Snowman, acting as a scout who will detect any obstacle and divert the attention away. Bandit picks up Carrie, the runaway bride of the son of the harsh Sheriff Buford T. Justice, who chases after him. Despite obstacles, Bandit and Snowman arrive in time and win the bet.

The 10th highest grossing film of the 70s, "Smokey and the Bandit" by former stuntman Hal Needham is even today simply a fun adventure action comedy with a devotion for chases and cars, of whom so many were destroyed in crashes that they almost rival the car smash marathon in "The Blues Brothers". The film works as some sort of a harmless, uplifting comedy version of "The Wages of Fear", except that the 'prohibited liquid' transported in the truck here is not nitroglycerin, but beer, and that a neat addition was found in the fast car driven by Bandit, who is there to divert the attention of the police from the truck, which results is a few great little comic moments of mischief. Sally Field's character is underwritten, as well as other elements in the films, yet this little spontaneous comedy flick engages with ease and is refreshingly accessible, offering a lot of positive energy, whereas Burt Reynolds is charmingly casual as the main hero who always outsmarts everyone, but Jackie Gleason almost steals the show as the cynical-sleazy Sheriff Buford T. Justice who chases after Bandit's car on the highway - but doesn't even recognize him sitting right besides him when he enters a bar for a lunch break.


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