Universal Pictures, I need your greatest shame to give me life…


I just became hipped to the existence of something that I didn’t know was there….

Or at least, I feel like I had heard of it once maybe…but the cylinders didn’t click. 

Dear congregation….how familiar are you with the Smokey and the Bandit franchise?

Well strap in, this gets stupid.

The first one was made as a lark by Burt Reynolds’ best friend and stuntman Hal Needham (for more this relationship, see Once Upon A Time In Hollywood). Burt wasn’t originally supposed to star (Jerry Reed was supposed to play the eponymous Bandit, but more on this later), but he figured he had something in the script, and got it made for him. 

With Burt’s backing, they got some money and made an insane, extremely southern, car chase movie about bootlegging. And it made a FUCK TON of money. Was the second highest grossing movie of that year (second only to Star Wars). 

So of course they made a sequel. It did…well enough (almost $70M on a $20M budget, no where near close to the first film). Despite having the same director (Hal Needham) and cast, it just didn’t work. I can’t confirm this, but it really feels like no one wanted to be there. That this was a cash grab. Sure it has some strong ass shit shit. But it just…doesn’t work…

Which leads us to the reason for the blog today. There isn’t much out there (and I may end up getting a hold of Jackie Gleason’s autobiography to see if they talk about it), but for whatever reason, Universal decided to make another one. 

Pretty much all the important people were out. Burt Reynolds, Sally Field, Hal Needham. But, Jackie was in….

I kind of wonder if this was a Jackie Gleason vanity project….especially considering their first pass…. 

I also don’t know whose idea this was, but the first pitch was called “Smokey IS the Bandit.” And it was going to have Jackie Gleason in both parts. This stupid fucking idea was apparently FILMED. We only know this because of people who actually saw test screenings of that film, and reported back. We also have this…

Look at THIS SHIT. Just fucking look at it.

The test screenings were so fucking bad, that Universal took some extra money, paid Jerry Reed to come back and actually play the Snowman getting to be The Bandit. And then made, what became, the actual released version of Smokey and the Bandit 3. Which is a hot mess of a movie. 

Its basically the first movie, just like recut and shit. With titties in it and jerry reed kind of stuffed in the middle. It did extremely poorly, and fell into great VHS obscurity. And that was the end of the franchise. 

I have SO MANY questions. Is the film’s plot basically the same, but with Jerry Reed just saying the dialogue? Are there whole other scenes that had to be filmed to try to make this continuous as a narrative? Did they actually get Jackie Gleason back for the reshoots? Does the film actually make MORE sense with Jackie Gleason as the Bandit?

Of course, other than that trailer….no footage of the original has released…which takes me to my point.

Universal Studios, Comcast, whoever, I hope you are listening. I am begging you. FUCKING BEGGING you. Release this movie. Put it on a special blu ray edition with those shitty TV specials. I would easily pay for all of it. 

Realistically, there are two ways I can see ever getting to see any of this:

1. The Erik Stoltz Method

Universal, you did it already for Back to the Future


Now, I certainly want the full fucking movie. But, if you are only ok shoving out random clips, I will take what I can get. I want to see fuckin Jackie Gleason in the outfit driving the fucking car. Just have some studio stooge slap together a Bandit franchise documentary for whatever anniversary. I can even wait 7 more years for the 50th. Just make the documentary and shove the Smokey Is The Bandit footage in there. No one will know.

Of course there is the other method….

2. The Trey Parker and Matt Stone Method.

Someone who works there, fucking leak it. Get the reels out of the studio, have someone scan them. It can be shitty. And just fucking leak it. This is how we have Your Studio and You. 

You would be a fucking hero to me. Now I know you would “lose your job for smokey is the fucking bandit.” But let me counter-argue. You would lose your job for SMOKEY IS THE FUCKING BANDIT. Come on, this is 100% worth. This level of cultural importance would only be rivaled by The Day the Clown Cried

I will close with this. Its 2020. Everything is fucking shitty. The world has gone to hell, and its about to get a whole fucking lot worse. In these dark times, we need something to give us a glimmer of hope. This would be hope….

If you don’t like that argument, how about this one: This could be your snyder-cut. Make it a Peacock exclusive. Fucking the released Smokey and the Bandit 3 is already on there. 

Just do it. I need this. I need this in 2020. Give me this fucking movie. 


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