Film / Smokey and the Bandit
The star of the movie with the other star.

Smokey and the Bandit is a 1977 action comedy film directed by Hal Needham, 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 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'?

    open/close all folders 

     Smokey and the Bandit 
  • 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 cruiser 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.
    • There really was a Pontiac police package in the '70s. One was offered on the Catalina, another on the LeMans, the latter being nicknamed the "LeMans Enforcer"
  • Anti-Villain: Buford T. Justice.
  • 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: The Bandit.
  • 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.
  • Buffy Speak: Frog's comprehension of CB lingo leaves a bit to be desired.
    I got the metal to the petal and the thing to the floor!
  • Butt-Monkey: Junior, hands down.
  • 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 barbeque 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: Played with by Buford saying a black sheriff "sounded a little taller on radio." It's really an attempt to downplay racism.
  • Good Hair, Evil Hair: Parodied by Buford T. Justice
  • Greasy Spoon: references to the "Choke-and-puke".
  • Grey and Gray Morality: Buford is breaking the law by continuing his pursuit of the Bandit by justifying that he is trying to dispense justice against "a maniac" but it is mostly because he feels insulted for Carrie leaving his son at the altar which then morphs into Buford wanting to apprehend the Bandit because the Bandit is Moby Dick to Buford's Ahab; but he is right in the fact that The Bandit has threatened the lives of many officers. The Bandit is running as a blocker for an illegal shipment of beer... not for any good cause but because of money and glory; it is only by sheer luck that most of the stunts pulled by Bandit does not result in the loss of innocent life. However, Bandit is helping a young woman escape from a marriage that she was not prepared for. And he is just so damn charming that you can't view him as a total villain and neither can anyone in the movie.
  • Hollywood CB: Averted, mostly. Perhaps the Trope Codifier. Many learned their CB lingo from this and similar movies.
  • Hollywood Law: Sheriff Buford T. Justice is under the impression that being in 'hot pursuit' means that he has the authority to pursue the Bandit wherever he goes. That's not exactly how it works. That part of the hot pursuit doctrine does grant him the authority to chase Bandit over the county line (it was written so the police would not be hamstrung by red tape when dealing with criminals who immediately cross the border to another jurisdiction). He would not have the authority to continue chasing him all the way across that county and into the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, ultimately resulting in a chase across multiple states. There is a point where Buford would be obliged to turn over the chase to people with either local jurisdiction for that region (the other local sheriffs) or simply a wider jurisdiction (state police or the FBI). Though even that could cause some potential difficulties, as at the beginning of the chase Buford didn't even have any proof that Bandit was doing anything illegal (yes, he was hauling several hundred cases of beer that was illegal to ship in bulk to that part of the country at the time, but Buford didn't know that), he was chasing the man for purely personal reasons. Making the entire pursuit illegal even within Buford's own jurisdiction.
  • 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
  • The Lancer: Snowman to the Bandit.
  • 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 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 ass.
  • Plot Hole: Buford never learns about the illegal cargo of beer; The Bandit never learns that the man that Frog left at the altar is Buford's son.
  • 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.
    Buford: Hey boy! Where's Sheriff Branford?
    Branford: I am Sheriff Branford.
    Buford: Oh OK. Hell, for some reason or another you sounded a little taller on radio. [turns to Buford Jr.] What in the hell is the world coming to?
  • Porn Stache: Burt Reynolds, naturally.
  • Ramp Jump: The "Reynolds Ramp" originator.
  • Road Runner vs. Coyote: Let's just say the Bandit and Snowman assume the roles of the Road Runner, managing to elude capture, while Sheriff Buford and the many policemen that pursue them collectively assume the role of the unfortunate Coyote.
  • Runaway Bride: Carrie.
  • 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, Bitch!: In this case, This Is For Emphasis, Sum'bitch!
  • 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:
    • Little Enos tries to bait Bandit into accepting the dare by hinting he's too cowardly to take up the challenge. An amused bandit asks Little Enos why he doesn't insult his mother while he's at it. Little Enos replies, "Your mama's so ugly..." before Big Enos cuts him off.
    • 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. Then again, "There is no way - no WAY - that you sprang from my loins."

     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.

     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.
  • And the Adventure Continues: Smokey forgoes retirement to chase after "Bandit" (actually Cledus) once again.
  • 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.
  • Hotter and Sexier: There's a scene with Buford and Jr. at a nudist encampment with multiple bare breasts. Surprisingly, the film still got a PG rating.
  • Panty Shot: Colleen Camp (the film's Sally Field expy).
  • Shout-Out: Star Wars and Patton, and some Jaws for good measure.
  • Tar and Feathers: For all his flaws, Buford has no respect for the Ku Klux Klan, and causes a truckful of Klansmen harassing an African-American group to get covered in tar and feathers.
    Buford: Here's how you handle the Klan, Junior.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: More so here than the other two.

That's a big 10-4!

Alternative Title(s): Smokey And The Bandit, Smokey And The Bandit II, Smokey And The Bandit Part 3