|SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT (1977)|
|"For the good old American lifestyle: For the money, for the glory, and for the fun... mostly for the money."|
|Time: 96 mins.|
Academy Award nominations for Best Film Editing.
Synopsis: An infamous trucker is forced to elude an angry lawman across three states as he attempts to win a high-stakes, long shot bet.
Bottom Line: Low on plot yet high on octane, this 30-year-old chase film still delivers the laughs and excitement. With a story that assuredly took about an hour to write, the antics wear a bit thin towards the end, but the charm of Reynolds, the gruffness of Gleason and the sweet sexiness of Field keep the party moving along. This is a film more about the car than the characters with the black TransAm almost receiving more screen time than Reynolds. That being said, you’re drawn into the story all the same. There’s just something about Reynolds that makes you smile and allows you to believe the instant connection his Bandit has with Fields’ Carrie. It certainly has nothing to do with character development or witty repartee. She plays a dancer who runs away from her wedding and is the reason Gleason’s Buford T. Justice a foul-mouthed, arrogant sheriff is on Bandit’s tale. Not that it really matters, but she was supposed to marry Justice Junior and the elder lawman does not take her defection well.
Of course, his humiliation quickly takes a backseat to his anger as the Bandit and Carrie continually escapes his clutches. There’s never any doubt that the Bandit and his compatriot, played with great cheer by Reed, will win the bet but they sure make the ride fun by torturing a few dozen lawmen along the way. Field doesn’t have much to do but hold on and look cute, yet she makes her mark on the film nonetheless with her spunk and good humor. This film was made while she and Reynolds were together and their offscreen relationship adds depth and chemistry to two rather shallow roles. They are clearly into one another and having a great time despite the silliness of the story. This was probably the easiest paycheck they ever received. Made before special effects, the car chases aren’t as spectacular as you’d see today, but considering the times and limitations the stunts hold up pretty well. Though considered a classic, this is not an intelligent or sophisticated film, just one that will leave you with a smile on your face and a longing for the open road.