‘Smokey and the Bandit’ to Return to Theaters for 45th Anniversary Celebration

by Caitlin Berard

Forty-five years ago, Smokey and the Bandit hit the big screen, starring Burt Reynolds, Jackie Gleason, Sally Field, and Jerry Reed. In celebration of the milestone anniversary of the iconic film, Fathom Events and Turner Classic Movies are bringing it back to select theaters across the country.

From May 29 to June 2, more than 650 American theaters will include Smokey and the Bandit in their nightly lineup. Those who attend these special showings will also get exclusive access to behind-the-scenes footage and background information on the making of the movie.

In a statement released by Fathom Events, the entertainment company shared its excitement for the coming event. “Gear up for huge laughs, pedal-to-the-metal action, and some of the wildest car crashes ever filmed!” they said. You can see the official teaser for the event from Turner Classic Movies below:

In addition to the Smokey and the Bandit showings, this year’s TCM Big Screen Classics Series will include other beloved films such as To Kill a Mockingbird (November 13-16) and It’s a Wonderful Life (December 18-21).

Burt Reynolds on the Creation of ‘Smokey and the Bandit’

It’s not unusual for movies to fade into the abyss that is Hollywood history. As it turns out, however, high-speed chases and modern-day cowboys never go out of style. In a 2011 interview ahead of TCM’s Road to Hollywood screening of the film, Burt Reynolds talked about bringing the timeless film to life.

“I was roommates with the highest-paid stuntman in the world—the best stuntman in the world—Hal Needham,” Reynolds explained. “And he said, ‘Roomie, I’ve written this movie’. And I thought, the thing you don’t want to hear from your roommate is, ‘I wrote a movie and about 90-percent of it takes place in a car.'”

“I read it and I said, ‘Hal, this is the worst script that I’ve ever read. But there’s a way to make this work. And that is we get the really outrageous people that know how to improv.'”

In addition to the star-studded cast, Smokey and the Bandit also includes some truly death-defying stunts. It is, after all, the story of a retired trucker bootlegging 400 cases of Coors beer from Texas to Georgia. Believe it or not, many of the film’s wildest stunts came from a desire to impress the director, according to Reynolds.

“When you have Hal Needham as a director, every stuntman wants to outdo himself,” Reynolds said. “He doesn’t want to just do a stunt. He wants to do the most death-defying stunt ever done for the movie because he wants to impress Hal. And Hal is not impressed. He’s moved on to the next shot. He’s seen it all, heard it all, done it all.”