If you’re a fan of classic American comedy movies, Smokey and the Bandit Movies might be high on your watchlist. This action-packed film made its debut in 1977 and featured Burt Reynolds, Sally Field, and Jackie Gleason. It quickly became a cultural phenomenon and led to a series of movies that followed.
In this article, we’ll explore the number of Smokey and the Bandit movies and share some fascinating insights about this iconic franchise.
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Table of Contents
The Origins of “Smokey and the Bandit”
“Smokey and the Bandit” is a timeless 1977 action-comedy directed by Hal Needham. It stars Burt Reynolds as Bo “Bandit” Darville, a truck driver hired to smuggle Coors beer from Texas to Georgia while evading the relentless pursuit of Sheriff Buford T. Justice.
The film was an instant hit, ranking among the highest-grossing films of 1977. Its popularity sparked the creation of several sequels, each with its own captivating story and cast of characters.
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Exploring the Smokey and the Bandit Film Series
In total, there are seven “Smokey and the Bandit” movies. The first three are the original films, while the last four are made-for-television movies. Let’s take a closer look at each:
- Smokey and the Bandit Movies (1977): The movie that started it all. Bandit and his partner, Cledus Snow, embark on a journey to transport 400 cases of Coors beer from Texas to Georgia. Along the way, they pick up a runaway bride named Carrie (Sally Field) and face the relentless pursuit of Sheriff Buford T. Justice.
- Smokey and the Bandit Movies II (1980): In this sequel, Bandit and Cledus are hired to transport a pregnant elephant from Florida to Texas. Along the way, they encounter a new adversary, corrupt politician “Big Enos” Burdette, while Sheriff Buford T. Justice continues his chase.
- Smokey and the Bandit Movies Part 3 (1983): The third installment introduces a fresh storyline and characters. It follows a group of college students participating in a cross-country race from California to Georgia. They enlist the help of a truck driver named “The Bandit” (Jerry Reed), only to discover the race is rigged, and a corrupt sheriff is in pursuit.
- The TV Movie – Bandit Goes Country (1994): The first made-for-television movie introduces a new character, Michael Brooks, son of Bandit’s friend. Michael, a talented country singer, seeks protection from thugs as he travels to Nashville.
- The TV Movie – Bandit Bandit (1994): Michael Brooks, now a professional race car driver, returns in this installment. Bandit comes out of retirement to help Michael, who has been framed for a crime he didn’t commit.
- The TV Movie – Beauty and the Bandit (1994): A new character named Beth (Kathy Ireland), a fashion model, is pursued by kidnappers. Bandit steps in to protect Beth during her journey to safety.
- The TV Movie – Bandit’s Silver Angel (1994): Michael Brooks reprises his role as a stuntman pursued by criminals. Bandit once again agrees to help protect him during his perilous journey.
The Legacy of Smokey and the Bandit Movies
The “Smokey and the Bandit Movies” have left an indelible mark on popular culture and continue to be cherished by fans today.
These films not only catapulted the careers of Burt Reynolds and Sally Field but also inspired a generation of truck drivers and car enthusiasts.
The iconic black Trans Am driven by Bandit remains an enduring symbol and a sought-after collector’s item.
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The Historical Perspective
Following the success of the first film, Universal Pictures swiftly greenlit a sequel, “Smokey and the Bandit Movies II,” in 1980. This sequel retained most of the original cast and continued the adventures of Bandit and Cledus.
However, by the time “Smokey and the Bandit Part 3″ hit theaters in 1983, the series took a different direction, with Jerry Reed assuming the role of Bandit.
In 1994, four made-for-television movies were released under the “Bandit” banner. While they did not directly follow the original storyline and did not feature Burt Reynolds as Bandit, they added new dimensions to the franchise.
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Where to Watch Smokey and the Bandit?
For those eager to relive the excitement of “Smokey and the Bandit,” there are various options for viewing. Subscribers to HBO Max can stream the movie, while others can rent or purchase it on platforms like Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, iTunes, YouTube, and Vudu. Physical copies in the form of DVDs or Blu-rays are also available for purchase online.
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- Burt Reynolds portrayed Bandit in the first two films, with Jerry Reed taking on the role in “Smokey and the Bandit Movies Part 3.”
- The black Pontiac Trans Am driven by Bandit became an iconic symbol of the franchise and remains popular among car enthusiasts.
- Jackie Gleason consistently played the role of Sheriff Buford T. Justice throughout the original film series.
The “Smokey and the Bandit Movies ” franchise endures as a beloved part of American pop culture, blending high-speed car chases, comedic escapades, and memorable characters.
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From its inception in the 1970s to its continued influence on popular culture today, these movies offer an exhilarating ride that leaves a lasting impression, whether you’re a longtime fan or new to the world of Bandit and his crew.
How many “Smokey and the Bandit” movies are there in total?
There are a total of seven “Smokey and the Bandit” movies. The first three are the original films, while the last four are made-for-television movies.
Who played the character of Bandit in the “Smokey and the Bandit” film series?
Burt Reynolds portrayed Bandit in the first two films, while Jerry Reed took on the role in “Smokey and the Bandit Part 3.”
Where can I watch “Smokey and the Bandit” online?
You can stream “Smokey and the Bandit” on HBO Max if you’re a subscriber. Additionally, you can rent or purchase it on platforms like Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, iTunes, YouTube, and Vudu. Physical copies are also available for purchase in the form of DVDs or Blu-rays from online retailers.
What is the legacy of the “Smokey and the Bandit” movies in popular culture?
The “Smokey and the Bandit” movies have had a lasting impact on popular culture. They launched the careers of Burt Reynolds and Sally Field, inspired a generation of truck drivers and car enthusiasts, and made the iconic black Trans Am a cultural icon still sought after by collectors today.
Why did the “Smokey and the Bandit” film series take a different direction with “Smokey and the Bandit Part 3”?
“Smokey and the Bandit Part 3” introduced a new storyline and featured Jerry Reed as Bandit, with Burt Reynolds making a cameo appearance. This change in direction was a creative decision to bring a fresh perspective to the franchise.