Written by Kaira

Modified & Updated: 16 Feb 2022

Sherman Smith

Reviewed by Sherman Smith

Carrie, Bandit, Sally Field, Burt Reynolds, smokey and the bandit facts

There are a lot of things to be learned about the iconic movie, Smokey and the Bandit. Can you believe that most Smokey and the Bandit facts shock even the biggest film buffs? For instance, did you know that the memorable film gained fame after defeating the first installment of Star Wars in 1977? Here is another one. Did you know most of the film’s principal shooting did not take place in Texas?

All these surprising facts only made the movie more popular. Years later, fans are still talking about the exciting high-speed chase between Bandit and the foul-mouthed Sherriff Buford T. Justice. Some of them are still singing some of the movie’s catchy songs and doing impressions of the film’s best dialogue. Indeed, Smokey and the Bandit produced some of the most memorable lines ever to be heard on film.

Despite its triumph, Smokey and the Bandit received mixed reviews from both viewers and critics. For some, it glamourized a real-life issue: the Coors Beer bootlegging problem. Burt Reynolds’ rebellious Bandit bootlegging Coors beer across state lines was something not to be emulated, even if it’s from one of the most well-known movies in film history.

Did the bits of trivia we mentioned encourage you to know more about the megahit 1977 action comedy film? Then you know what to do, read on to know more Smokey and the Bandit facts! Have fun!

  1. Smokey and the Bandit hit theaters on May 19, 1977.
  2. The success of Smokey and the Bandit at the box office spawned two sequels.
  3. In 1994, Universal Television broadcasted four made-for-television spin-off films titled Bandit.
  4. For the first week, Smokey and the Bandit garnered a total of $1,728,060.
  5. The movie had a budget of $4.3 million.
  1. The film’s triumphant release sparked a love-hate relationship with various film critics.
  2. The film marked Hollywood stuntman Hal Needham’s directorial debut.
  3. Hollywood icon Burt Reynolds played “Bo “The Bandit” Darville.
  4. Jackie Gleason ad-libbed most of his scenes as Sherriff Buford T. Justice.
  5. Burt Reynolds received the biggest paycheck among all the members of the cast.
  6. The sales of the Pontiac Firebird Trans Am doubled after the film’s premiere.
  7. Coors Beer gained more fame after the release of the film.
  8. Universal suddenly reduced the budget for the film right before its production.
  9. The idea of Sherriff Buford T. Justice’s character came from a person that Burt Reynold’s father encountered while working as a police officer.
  10. The term Smokey from Smokey and the Bandit refers to the police officials attempting to chase after Bandit’s speeding car.
  1. Famous director Alfred Hitchcock says Smokey and the Bandit is his all-time favorite film.
  2. Burt Reynolds and Sally Field developed a romantic relationship while working on the set of the film.
  3. Former NFL football linebacker Mike Henry portrays Sherriff Justice’s son, Junior Justice.
  4. Most of the film’s scenes were shot on long roads around Atlanta, Georgia, not Texas.
  5. Needham’s bosses initially wanted Richard Boone to portray Sheriff Justice before casting Jackie Gleason.
Table of Contents

Most of the original cast redubbed their lines for its American network TV broadcast.

Not a lot of film buffs noticed this entry to our compilation Smokey and the Bandit facts. Some only watched the film in theaters, while others enjoyed its short run on television. No matter how you’ve seen it, you should know of the film’s extensive use of profanity.

For its first TV broadcast, most of the original Smokey and the Bandit cast came together to record new dubs. The heavy censorship on American network TV caused the sudden reunion.

Since the film TV airing happened in the 1980s, Jackie Gleason failed to join his fellow cast members for the new dub. Because of this, voice actor Henry Corden came in to record Sherriff Buford T. Justice’s new lines. Corden garnered fame when he lent his voice to Fred Flintstone in the cartoon, The Flintstones.

Burt Reynolds almost turned down his role in Smokey and the Bandit.

Carrie, Bandit, Sally Field, Burt Reynolds, smokey and the bandit facts
Source: Universal Pictures on YouTube

Needham gained fame working as Burt Reynold’s stuntman. He resided in Reynold’s pool house when he first approached the actor about the original script for Smokey and the Bandit. Back then, the film’s concept intrigued Reynolds after reading Needham’s work from sheets of yellow legal pad paper. The actor then tasked his stuntman to find the money needed to produce the whole movie.

In contrast to Reynold’s enthusiasm, the actor claims his close friends attempted to dissuade him from playing the lead role. According to an entry from Reynold’s biography, his friends, “got down on their knees with tears in their eyes and begged me not to do it.” Fortunately, Reynolds refused to listen to their advice and proceeded to play as the iconic Bo “The Bandit” Darville.

Sally Field agreed to portray Carrie after people called her ugly.

Yes, you read that right. Sally Field’s unrefined beauty shined both on and off-screen. Plus, her acting prowess solidified her wins for multiple awards. However, before all that, people found her ugly.

In 1976, Field grabbed the attention of the masses with her role in the three-part TV film series Sybil. Her jaw-dropping performance ensured her win as Outstanding Lead Actress in a Special Program for the Drama or Comedy category in the 29th Primetime Emmy Awards.

During that award season, Field surpassed the actresses who played Eleanor Roosevelt, Amelia Earhart, and Mary Todd Lincoln. Despite this impressive feat, people usually described Sally as the “ugly lead actress from Sybil.”

In hopes of changing people’s opinion of her, Field agreed to play Burt Reynolds’ love interest in Smokey and the Bandit. At that time, the masses knew Reynolds as a hot sex icon in Hollywood. Undoubtedly, starring alongside him in a box office hit changed people’s comments about Field’s appeal.

Director Hal Needham failed to obtain all the cars he planned for the film.

Bandit hiding from the Smokeys, smokey and the bandit facts
Source: Universal Pictures on YouTube

Because of all the stunts pulled in Smokey and the Bandit, Hal Needham requested multiple sets of cars to be used in the film. For Bandit’s famous Trans Am, Needham asked Pontiac to send six identical models. He also requested four Bonneville cars to prepare for the stunts on Sheriff Justice’s car. However, the car company only agreed to send four models of the Trans Am and two models of the Bonneville.

Throughout the film’s production, Pontiac remained adamant about refusing to send the cars Needham requested. Because of this, the film’s shoot went through major setbacks. Before completing the movie’s final scene, the crew rendered the four Trans Am cars unusable. This forced Needham to use a similar-looking car for the last scenes.

After Smokey and the Bandit’s success in the box office, Needham continued to direct the sequel of his hit film. When he asked for multiple cars from Pontiac, he had no trouble receiving the numerous models of Trans Am and Bonneville he needed for the film’s shoot.

"Smokey and the Bandit's" original screenplay went through multiple changes.

Just like most films, this section in our Smokey and the Bandit facts compilation talks about the changes made during the production. Aside from the major effect of Universal’s sudden budget cut, Director Hal Needham revamped a few details from his original screenplay.

Before the film’s production, Carrie, Cledus, Big Enos, and Little Enos originally went by Kate, Bandit II, Kyle, and Dickey, respectively. Upon knowing that, fans find it hard to imagine these iconic characters with the monikers.

Initially, Mike Henry’s character, Junior, never claimed a spot in the original story. Needham added Junior after Jackie Gleason demanded another character to accompany Sheriff Justice while he chased Bandit.

Jerry Reed composed the film's hit song overnight.

Jerry Reed, Cledus Snow
Source: Universal Pictures on YouTube

Aside from famously playing Bandit’s sidekick, Jerry Reed’s claim to fame revolved around his career as an American country music singer and composer. Because of this, Director Hal Needham tasked Reed to compose a song for the film he starred in.

Despite being on short notice, Reed performed the film’s main theme song, “East Bound and Down,” after writing it in just one night. Reed impressed Needham so much he left the director speechless. Needham also refused to change a single note or line from Reed’s original version of the song.

Burt Reynolds never got to enjoy the brand-new Pontiac Firebird Trans Am promised to him.

Pontiac Firebird Trans Am
Source: Ali Moharami on Unsplash

Due to Smokey and the Bandit’s success, fans flocked shops to buy the Trans Am featured on the film. Pontiac expressed their gratitude by following Hal Needham’s demands on the film sequel.

General Motors, on the other hand,  extended their thanks to the movie’s lead actor. Because of the car’s boost in sales, an executive from General Motors promised to gift Burt Reynolds his own brand-new Trans Am.

Keeping the executive’s promise to heart, Reynolds attempted to collect a brand-new Trans Am from General Motors but failed. Turns out, the said executive retired before he could fulfill his promise to the actor. Sadly, the new management refused to honor the former executive’s vow to Reynolds.

Jackie Gleason always asked for "hamburgers" while shooting "Smokey and the Bandit."

Sheriff Justice, Jackie Gleason
Source: Universal Pictures on YouTube

This entry in our list of Smokey and the Bandit facts centers on Jackie Gleason’s love for alcohol. Despite his old age, Gleason refused to give up drinking.

Burt Reynolds fondly recalled how Gleason asked his assistant for “hamburgers” while working on the set of the movie. The code meant the actor wanted a glass of vodka, or any type of alcohol, between takes. Actually, Gleason loved to give nicknames or codes for the different types of alcohol he consumed regularly.

Aside from his alcoholism, Gleason partook in various vices such as smoking cigarettes and eating. Now, when we say “eating,” we don’t mean the usual three meals a day. The famous actor devoured several meals in one sitting. He also finished a half-gallon of ice cream before enjoying a glass of his “cream bun on ice,” or whisky.

Smokey and the Bandit outshined Star Wars during its release.

It may sound far-fetched, but film buffs understood why Smokey and the Bandit attracted a larger audience than the first Star Wars film. As mentioned, Burt Reynolds already made a name for himself by the time he took on the role of Bo “The Bandit” Darville. Star Wars star Harrison Ford, on the other hand, failed to instantly attract a large following in 1977.

Fans argued about the real recipe of the Diablo Sandwich.

Junior, Mike Henry, Sheriff Justice, Jackie Gleason
Source: Universal Pictures on YouTube

If you’ve watched Smokey and the Bandit, you probably wondered why Sheriff Buford T. Justice decided to pause his pursuit of Bandit to enjoy a Diablo sandwich.

Despite being in a rush, Jackie Gleason’s Sherriff Justice spared a few minutes in a restaurant in Arkansas to enjoy the delicious-looking sandwich. What made him relish the meal that distracted him from realizing that Bandit hid right under his nose?

In popular culture, the Diablo sandwich sparked various debates between fans and film buffs. The scrumptious film reference left people wondering about the recipe of the sandwich. Unfortunately, no one managed to find the real recipe used in the film. However, this didn’t stop food lovers from cooking up their own recipes that look similar to the popular Diablo sandwich.

A quick Google search can lead you to different sites featuring their respective renditions of the Diablo Sandwich. Most recipes receive mixed reviews, however.

To this day, no one knows if any of the Diablo Sandwich recipes found online can match the one from the iconic film.

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