Smokey and the Bandit

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to navigation Jump to search
The star of the movie with the other star.

Smokey and the Bandit is a 1977 movie starring Burt Reynolds, Sally Field, Jackie Gleason, and country singer Jerry Reed, who also sang the film's theme song "East Bound and Down". It is the Trope Codifier of the "Moonshiner on the run from Corrupt Hick cops" movie. The plot revolves around truck driver Bo "Bandit" Darville (Reynolds), who is offered $80,000 to bootleg four hundred cases of Coors beer from Texarkana, Texas to the Southern Classic truck rodeo in Georgia within 28 hours. The Bandit recruits fellow trucker Cledus "Snowman" Snow (Reed) to make the journey with him, with the Bandit's Pontiac Firebird Trans Am acting as a spotter for Snowman's rig. On the journey back, the Bandit picks up a Runaway Bride named Carrie (Field), making him the target of the jilted groom's father, Sheriff Buford T. Justice (Gleason). Hilarity Ensues and a chase across the South ensue.

Smokey was the second highest-grossing movie of 1977, beaten to the #1 spot by Star Wars: A New Hope, and established Burt Reynolds as one of the biggest stars in Hollywood in the late '70s and early '80s. Two sequels were made, Smokey and the Bandit II in 1980 and Smokey and the Bandit Part 3 (sans Reynolds and Field) in 1983. They did not end up doing as well in competition with the respective Star Wars films at the box office.

Tropes used in Smokey and the Bandit include:
  • The Alleged Car: Buford's police cruiser becomes this as it gets smashed to hell.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: In 1977, it was indeed illegal to ship large amounts of Coors beer east of Texas due to state alcohol laws at the time. Since at the time the company still produced all of its beer in Colorado, it didn't bother to seek state licenses for parts of the country outside of a comfortable shipping range.
  • Are You Sure You Can Drive This Thing?: "I can drive any fork'n thing around."
  • Aside Glance: The Bandit gives one after hiding behind a building from the cops.
  • Badass Boast
  • Badass Driver
  • Bar Brawl: Snowman gets his ass kicked in one after his dog bites one of the patrons. He gets his revenge.
  • Bowdlerise: The TV edit replaced "sum'bitch," Buford's Catch Phrase, with "scum bum". This phrase wound up becoming quite popular with children at the time. Years later, when Hot Wheels released a '70s Firebird Trans Am toy car, it had the word "scum bum" on the back as a reference to the TV edit.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: The Bandit does this when he smiles at the audience after eluding a cop on the way to Texarkana.
  • Butt Monkey: Junior, hands down.
  • California Doubling: The movie was mostly filmed in Georgia, which not only appears as itself, but is also used to represent four other Southern states. The scene where they drive through the Shell gas station was also filmed in Ojai, California.
  • Captain Obvious

Junior: The top came off, Daddy.
Buford T. Justice: No shit.

  • Catch Phrase: "I'm in the MIDDLE of a HOT PURSUIT!" "Sum'bitch!"
  • Chewing the Scenery: Jerry Reed.
  • City Mouse: Carrie, a Broadway dancer who is implied to be from New England (judging by her comment about taking a bus up to Jersey and walking the rest of the way home).
  • Clueless Deputy: Junior.
  • Cool Car: The Bandit's black Trans Am. It's not for nothing that the caption under the poster refers to it as "the other star" of the film.
  • Corrupt Hick: Buford T. Justice.
    • Well, Sheriff Buford T. Justice is treated as one of these, even though the titular Bandit is breaking the law left and right.
      • Buford has no idea that The Bandit is hauling illegal beer, which would have justified the pursuit at least within his jurisdiction. His pursuit is entirely for personal reasons and thus qualifies as being corrupt. Neither party comes to the plot with clean hands.
  • Cyclic National Fascination: This film, along with the CW McCall song "Convoy", helped to kick off the CB radio and trucker fads in the late '70s.
  • Determinator: Buford in every movie.
  • Did Not Do the Research: While Darville (Bandit) and Snow, did go to the right city, they went to the wrong side. As it's the Arkansas side not the Texas side that sells beer.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Buford.
  • Driving Into a Truck: In Smokey and the Bandit II, a speeder calls for help to a trucker hauling a empty car carrier when being pursued by a state cop. The trucker agrees. With some fancy driving the speeder loses the cop by driving aboard the car carrier... or so he thinks. The speeder unexpectedly gets a tap on his window, and the cop is there asking him for his license and registration. (Its implied that the cop has driven aboard the car carrier also.) The speeder gets out of the ticket because the truck hasn't stopped, and they all cross a state line, so the cop is now out of his jurisdiction.
  • Dynamic Entry: The door for the Coors warehouse is locked, so The Bandit kicks in the door.
  • Ear Worm: Oh lord the Theme Tune. It has banjos.
  • Epic Race
  • Expecting Someone Taller:

Oh, pardon me. For some reason you sounded a little taller on radio.


Smokey and the Bandit II:


Tackle that car.


Security Officer: First dock on the left.
Bandit: Right.
Security Officer: No, left.


Smokey and the Bandit Part 3:

  • Absentee Actor: Both Burt Reynolds and Sally Field opted out of this one, although Reynolds does appear in a brief cameo toward the end when Buford confronts Cledus, who's taken on the Bandit role, and hallucinates that he's the "real" Bandit.
  • For the Evulz: Big Enos and Little Enos. While the other two bets (well, three) actually had reasons behind them, the one they foist onto Buford in the third film is purely to alleviate boredom.
    • And possibly to get Buford to turn in his badge (which was Buford's end of the wager, should he not complete the run successfully) to remove his interference with future deals.
  • Panty Shot: Colleen Camp (the film's Sally Field expy).
  • Shout-Out: Star Wars and Patton.
  • Tar and Feathers

Buford: Here's how you handle the Klan, Junior.