Smokey and the Bandit (1977)
Sometimes, when your watching a movie for the first time, you have to watch it all the way through to find out whether or not you like it or not. Other times, I have noticed that something very particular happens and the movie grabs my pleasure center right away. With "Smokey and the Bandit," Burt Reynolds revs his Pontiac Trans Am and the theme song begins playing all for the first time. I knew right away that this movie had me.
It tells the story of a rich father-son duo who are trying to find a driver who will be willing to haul Coors beer from Texas to Georgia. In the 70's Coors was not available in east Texas. The laws prevented Coors from being sold because it wasn't pasteurized. So the beer had to be kept cold throughout its transportation process. (Which was a 28 hour process.) Any unauthorized movement of Coors was considered "bootlegging."
The duo happens upon "The Bandit" (played by Burt Reynolds.) a guy with a big ego and an appetite for adventure. The Bandit accepts a huge sum of money for the bet. He prepares to drive 400 boxes of Coors from Texas to Georgia in 28 hours, making a deadline for a festival taking place in Georgia.
The Bandit receives some of the money upfront. Which he uses to buy a really fast car. He then recruits the help of his best friend and truck driver Snowman (Jerry Reed). The Bandit is planning to use the fast car to catch the attention of any police while Snowman drives the truck of illegal cargo.
The Bandit and Snowman hit the road and right away it's very easy to love the movie. Reynolds and Reed have very good chemistry, probably one of the best onscreen duos in all of movies. I have been a fan of Burt Reynolds for quite sometime, and this is easily one of his best films.
Eventually, we meet Carrie (Sally Field) who a bride on the run from her husband, who happens to be a dimwitted cop (Mike Henry) who works with Sheriff Buford T. Justice (Jackie Gleason) a highly decorated Sheriff who wants to nab The Bandit. The film turns into a cat-and-mouse adventure between the Sheriff and The Bandit. Throughout, the movie never feels boring. The film is clever and funny in the way it keeps The Bandit on the run and The Sheriff not far behind.
I know there maybe some people out there that may groan from the word "romance." I personally do not mind romance in movies, just as long as it serves the story and as long as it isn't mushy gushy. Reynolds and Field play off of each other in a way that never feels like your watching a chick flick. They are both funny, charming and sincere in their performance together. They should be credited for their work.
The other main reason why "Smokey and the Bandit" makes my Essentials list is simply because the movie makes you feel good. The first time I saw this film for the first time, I had a huge smile from ear to ear etched on my face for the whole hour and half running time. The actors are all great, the characters they play are wonderful. The type of people you would love to hang out with. It has a fun little story that will keep your eyes glued to the screen. As I stated above, the film features a great song by Bill Justis. The screenplay is written with wit and glee by James Lee Barrett, Charles Shyer and Alan Mandel. I love everything about this movie, and I hope you all check it out very soon!