Actor Burt Reynolds reckons 12 Pontiac Firebirds were destroyed during the making of Smokey and the Bandit, the car-chase/truck-chase movie of 40 years ago.
But the story goes that the head of Pontiac at the time didn’t mind because the brand’s stock price rose around 70 per cent after the film’s release. A stock standard Pontiac Firebird Trans Am back then cost around US$5500.
Reynolds was at Jonesboro, Georgia, last weekend to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the box office hit. It was a knees-up, too.
The city’s folk cooked BBQ and drank beer, re-enacted scenes from the movie, had a question and answer session with Reynolds and Susie Ewing, who played Hot Pants Hilliard in 1977, and finished with an outdoor screening of the movie.
But why Jonesboro, Georgia, when the story was about hauling a truck-load of Coors beer from Texarkana, Texas, to Atlanta, Georgia? Because much of the movie was filmed around Jonesboro.
And that’s where the story begins. Reynolds plays Bo ‘Bandit’ Darville and Jerry Reed plays Cledus ‘Snowman’ Snow. Together they play loud and loose with pursuing Texas Sherriff Buford T Justice (Jackie Gleeson).
Reynolds serves as the blocker, driving a Pontiac Firebird Trans Am to divert police attention away from the payload of beer in the Kenworth truck, driven by Reed. Along the way Reynolds picks up a runaway bride (Sally Fields) (above).
Reed was a country music great: singer, songwriter, standout storyteller, exceptional guitarist, occasional actor. He co-wrote and sang Eastbound and Down, the soundtrack to Smokey and the Bandit.
See the video below where Reed sings one of the great car songs, Lord, Mr Ford …