Film: Smokey and the Bandit
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
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.
Worth noting is that Alfred Hitchcock
once named the first film as his favorite movie ever made.
Breaker, breaker, Bandit Lister, this is Trope Reader, what kinda tropes ya haulin'?
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Smokey and the Bandit
- Actor Allusion: "Soon as I get home, first thing I'm gonna do is punch yo mamma in the mouth". Is your wife's name by any chance Alice, Sheriff? He also threatens to kick Junior "over the moon."
- The Alleged Car: Buford's police cruiser becomes this as it gets smashed to hell. A Running Gag in the sequels, naturally:
- In the second film, the curiser gets folded nearly in half, but is still somewhat driveable.
- In the third film. the cruiser's body is completely destroyed, leaving Buford to drive a bare frame on four wheels, with Junior holding the light bar over their heads.
- 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."
- Artistic License – Geography: Supposedly Texarkana Texas is 900 miles from Atlanta, whereas in the real world it's only 650 even avoiding interstates. Turning the "impossible" 28 hour round trip into something that is completely doable even obeying the speed limit. The Sequel hook of going from Atlanta to Boston and back in 18 hours though is completely impossible save by plane.
- 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, Fred, 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: Daddy, the top came off.
Buford T. Justice: No shit.
- Casual Car Giveaway: At the end, Big Enos gives Bo the keys to his convertible, leaving him with an even dozen.
- Catch Phrase: "I'm in the MIDDLE of a HOT PURSUIT!" "Sum'bitch!"
- Chewing the Scenery: Buford T. Justice.
- 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 has no idea that The Bandit is hauling illegal beer, which would have justified the pursuit at least within his jurisdiction—if not for the fact that he leaves said jurisdiction almost immediately. His pursuit is entirely for personal reasons and thus qualifies as being corrupt. Of course, the titular Bandit is breaking the law left and right, so neither party comes to the plot with clean hands.
- Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: Buford delivers a classic.
Buford T. Justice: I'm gonna barbecue your ass in molasses!
- 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.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Buford.
- Dynamic Entry: The door for the Coors warehouse is locked, so The Bandit kicks in the door.
- Epic Race
- Expecting Someone Taller:
Oh, pardon me. For some reason you sounded a little taller on radio.
- Everybody Owns A Ford: Was there really a Pontiac police package in the '70s??
- There were a couple, actually. One was offered on the Catalina, another on the LeMans, the latter being nicknamed the "LeMans Enforcer"
- Follow the Leader: Smokey came after a 1975 film called Moonrunners, and The Dukes of Hazzard soon followed.
- Good Hair, Evil Hair: Parodied by Buford T. Justice
- Greasy Spoon: references to the "Choke-and-puke".
- Hollywood CB: Averted, mostly. Perhaps the Trope Codifier. Many in this troper's generation learned their CB lingo from this and similar movies.
- Hollywood Police Driving Academy
- Hot Pursuit
- Instant Convertible: In his wild pursuit of The Bandit, Sheriff Justice's patrol car eventually loses its top, among other things.
- Jurisdiction Friction
- Lemming Cops
- Lovable Rogue: Bandit. Everywhere he goes there are people lining up to help him out or at least cheer him on.
- Male Gaze: The camera lingers on Carrie's ass for about five seconds as she's reaching into the backseat.
- Metallicar Syndrome: The black 1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am.
- This is actually an aversion, as the entire point of The Bandit's car is to draw Smokey's attention away from the tractor-trailer he is escorting.
- Snowman's rig, in one film, is pulling a trailer with a large custom-painted mural on the side, which is very out of place for someone ostensibly trying to blend in with the hundreds of other 18 wheelers on the highway hauling plain white trailers or ones with less-conspicuous industrial graphics.
- The Mountains of Illinois: While northern Georgia has mountains, Northeastern Texas does not, as the nearest is 100 miles to the north.
- An early scene has Bo and Cledus heading back and are in Arkansas. A shot framing the back window of Bo's car clearly shows a Georgia state highway sign.
- Motorcycle Dominoes: After Snowman gets beat up by bikers because his dog supposedly bit one of them, he stumbles outside and sees their bikes lined up. So he gets in his semi and runs over the entire line of them on his way out of the parking lot.
- Ms. Fanservice: Carrie.
- Noodle Incident:
Buford: No one makes a fool out of Buford T. Justice!
Junior: Except for that-
Buford: Shut your *ss.
- Playing Against Type: Jackie Gleason was a native New Yorker. He plays an East Texas redneck in all three movies.
- Plot Hole: Buford never learns about the illegal cargo of beer; The Bandit never learns that Frog left Junior at the altar.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: Buford, as seen with his reaction to finding out that Sheriff Branford is black. To say nothing of the casual sexism and homophobia.
- Porn Stache: Burt Reynolds, naturally.
- Ramming Always Works: Snowman near the end to save The Bandit.
- Ramp Jump: The "Reynolds Ramp" originator.
- The Red Stapler: After this movie came out, there was a six-month waiting list to purchase black Trans Ams.
- Runaway Bride: Carrie.
- The Lancer: Snowman to the Bandit.
- The Seventies
- The Sheriff: Buford T. Justice.
- Shout-Out: Much of Buford's dialogue in the TV Edit was redubbed by Henry Corden, whose most famous character Fred Flintstone was inspired by Gleason's most famous character Ralph Kramden.
- Sound Effect Bleep: The only way they kept a PG rating.
Officer: I hope you'll accept my apologies for my profanity.
Buford T. Justice: Apology accepted. Now, (mouths "fuck off" but is bleeped out by truck horn)
- Supporting Leader: Bandit is essentially a professional leader, even if he's the main character.
- Sweet Home Alabama
- Take the Wheel: Lampshaded; it turns out to be harder to do this than it looks.
- Also a This Is Reality moment as Bandit comments that it's easier in the movies.
- This Is For Emphasis, Sum'bitch!
- Throw It In: Jackie Gleason was given a lot of lee-way to ad lib. The scene where he meets Bandit at the choke'n'puke without knowing it was his idea.
- Unintentional Period Piece: That's a big 10-4.
- Worthy Opponent: Buford and the Bandit both admit a mutual respect for the other's tenacity at the end over the CB.
Bandit: You must be part coon dog. 'Cause I've been chased by the best of 'em, but you make 'em all look like they're running in slow motion.
Buford: May I just say as the pursuer, you're just about the Goddamndest pursue-ee I ever pursued!
- You Have No Idea Who You're Dealing With: Buford.
- Your Mom: "Your mama's so ugly..."
- A version of Your Mom is a Running Gag with Buford and Junior—Buford insults Junior's mother, but she is of course Buford's wife.
Smokey and the Bandit II
- Car Fu: Buford's team of Mounties and Texas Rangers vs. the Bandit and Snowman's team of 18-wheelers. Guess who wins.
- The Cavalry: Snowman invokes this by bringing along some friends to save the Bandit.
- Hard Work Montage: Bandit even races racehorses.
- Informed Flaw: Bandit, with regards to alcoholism, or at least being out of shape for drinking too many beers. Somewhat averted when he has to go through the Hard Work Montage to work it off, but even beforehand he still looks in pretty good shape.
- It Works Better with Bullets: Double Subverted. When the Bandit is about to leave the shipping yard, Buford blocks his path while holding his gun on him. The Bandit calls his marksmanship into question and tricks him into using up all of his ammo. However, Buford catches on and has Junior give him his gun. When the Bandit tries to escape, Buford tries to shoot him...and discovers Junior's gun is empty too. The Bandit makes a clean getaway.
Buford: Junior! Why didn't you have your gun loaded?!
Junior: When I put bullets in it, daddy, it gets too heavy.
- Mass "Oh, Crap!"
- Rule of Cool
Tackle that car.
- Shout-Out: Reginald Van Justice of the Mounties is one to one of Jackie Gleason's old skecth-comedy characters, Reginald Van Gleason III.
- Uncanny Family Resemblance: Buford's brothers, Reginald Van Justice and Gaylord Justice; like Buford, they're played by Jackie Gleason.
- Your Other Left
Security Officer: First dock on the left.
Security Officer: No, left.
Smokey and the Bandit Part 3
That's a big 10-4!