Best Car Movies List

Smokey and the Bandit (1977)

PG 96 min. Directed by Hal Needham. Starring Burt Reynolds, Sally Field, Jackie Gleason, Jerry Reed, Pat McCormick, Paul Williams and Mike Henry.

Featuring Pontiac Trans-Am! CB Radios! Beer! Road trip! Romance! Car chase! Great cast!

Wealthy Texan Big Enos Burdette (Pat McCormick) and his son Little Enos (Paul Williams) are looking for a truck driver willing to bootleg Coors beer to Georgia for their refreshment. The Burdettes discover legendary trucker Bo "Bandit" Darville (Burt Reynolds) competing in a truck rodeo at Lakewood Fairgrounds in Atlanta and made a deal to haul 400 cases of Coors beer from Texarkana, Texas to Atlanta (about 670 miles) in 28 hours.

Why bootleg Coors? At the time, Coors beer was a regional product and its marketing area was confined to the American West. Texas was part of the 11-state distribution area, but it could not be legally sold east of the Mississippi River. This gave it mystique and made it a novelty, particularly on the East Coast. Visitors returning from the western states often brought back a case.

What do the Hollywood critics think?

Hollywood: "Smokey and the Bandit is basically a series of excellent comedy and action scenes that fail to come together as a satisfactory whole. — Ron Pennington, originally published on May 18, 1977"

Me: Hold my beer. Smokey and the Bandit was, The Best Gol'dern, Car Movie, Ever.

Universal Studios bankrolled Smokey and the Bandit for $5.3 million. Just two days before production was to begin, Universal cut the budget by $1 million. With Reynolds' salary at $1 million, Needham was left with only $3.3 million to make the film.

The film eventually grossed $126,737,428 in North America.

It was the second-highest-grossing film of 1977, second only to Star Wars, which was released two days earlier. Smokey and the Bandit even out-grossed two other iconic movies, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Saturday Night Fever.

Smokey and the Bandit had all the ingredients that made this car movie a legend. The sexy powerful Pontiac Trans-Am! Stud actor Burt Reynolds. CB Radios! Beer! Road trip! Romance! Car chase! Great cast!

Academy Awards nomination for Best Film Editing.
Golden Globes nomination, Sally Field, for Best Actress in a Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical.

My favorite scene, at the 15:18, is when the Bandit drives slowly, looks into the camera, and smiles.

What makes this even more classic is looking into the camera is considered "breaking the fourth wall," an imaginary wall of separation between the audience and the actor.

And for those of us that hate to take off our hats, I'll leave you with a favorite quote from the movie.

Carrie : Don't you ever take off that hat?
Bandit : I take my hat off for one thing, and one thing only.
Carrie : Oh... Take your hat off. If you want to...
Bandit : I want to.