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SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT THEN AND NOW

Smokey And The Bandit was filmed in and around Atlanta in the summer of 1976 and went on to become a colossal box office success.  Written and directed by accomplished stuntman Hal Needham, the movie starred Burt Reynolds as a showboating good ole boy who accepts a bet to go from Atlanta to Texarkana and return with 400 cases of Coors beer.  The catch: a time limit of 28 hours.  When the movie was released in May of 1977, Coors products were still a few years away from being widely available on the East coast, providing the mystique that would make such a trip at least somewhat plausible.

Reynolds enlisted the help of his truck-driving buddy Jerry Reed to accomplish his mission.  Despite the strict time limit, Reynolds somehow found time to complicate the journey by giving a lift to Sally Field, playing a bride ditching her wedding and thus enraging the father of the jilted bridegroom.  Jackie Gleason portrays the father, Sheriff Buford T. Justice, a Texas lawman with an extremely volcanic temper.  Even if Burt Reynolds' style isn't your thing, this movie is worth watching just to marvel at the scene-stealing brilliance of Gleason, who improvised many of his memorable tirades.

For years, I knew that Smokey's opening and closing scenes were filmed at Atlanta's Lakewood Fairgrounds.  Despite having read that the rest of the  movie was also shot around Atlanta, I had no clue which locations were used.  This clueless state lasted only until I managed to find my way to the website of Tyler Hambrick, a world class Smokey And The Bandit enthusiast/maniac.  As mentioned on Tyler's website,  every so often he conducts tours showing folks where many of the movie's scenes were shot.  I quickly figured out that I needed to be a part of his next tour.  Thanks for sharing all your expertise, Tyler!

 

SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT THEN AND NOW

 

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