Colbert Bump: Fans of Archer came to know about these movies due to the fact that the titular character is an enormous fan of both movies. Archer notably confuses details about White Lightning and Gator, attributing elements of the former to the latter.
The film was almost directed by Steven Spielberg. "I spent two-and-a-half months on the film, met Burt once, found most of the locations and began to cast the movie, until I realized it wasn't something that I wanted to do for a first film. I didn't want to start my career as a hard-hat, journeyman director. I wanted to do something that was a little more personal." So he quit and went to do The Sugarland Express, which he found more challenging for three reasons, "the changing relationships among the trio in the car, the nature of 'the chase,' and how to handle the digressions."
The famous jump scene where McKlusky drives off a pier onto a barge, barely hitting it, actually was a real on-screen accident. They misjudged the speed of the barge and the car ended up being destroyed. It also almost killed stuntman Hal Needham.
What I said to that boat captain damn near cost me my life, he says. Unbeknownst to Needham, in the rehearsals, the barge captain had only been using three-quarters of the throttle to launch the boat for the jump. Just before we made the shot, I wanted to calm down the captain so he was thinking straight, Needham says. I said okay captain, when I say go, firewall that thing. The captain launched the boat with maximum throttle, and the jump became much longer than it had in the rehearsals. I had planned on landing 20 to 30 feet up on the barge. So I thought, Ill really give them a show. I just stood on the accelerator. I was planning on hitting the end of the ramp at about 60 to 65 mph. I just stood on the gas and I was probably doing 80 mph. If I hadnt been a showoff, that car would never have made the barge. The nose hit that barge and it popped up in the air, which practically welded the midsection of the car to the boat. That river was so muddy and swift, if I hadnt gotten brave on the way to the ramp, Id have ended up in Louisianawe were shooting in Arkansas.
Directed By Castmember: Burt Reynolds said that they sent him the script for the film and he refused to do it saying "it's a terrible script. Then, they asked me if I wanted to direct? And I said 'It's a wonderful script'."
What Could Have Been: Richard Kiel said in his autobiography that he was supposed to be in this movie. Burt Reynolds had, as a favor, made sure that there was a part written specially for him. In the end Kiel was not available for the part as Bones when they where shooting this movie. Kiel did, however, recommend his friend William Engesser for the part instead.
Written By Castmember: According to James Best, he was given the opportunity to rewrite the script at the request of Burt Reynolds to give more character depth to Gator McClusky.