TailSlate Recasts One of the Biggest Hits of 1977

We recast the classic, 'Smokey and the Bandit'
We recast the classic, ‘Smokey and the Bandit’

Four decades ago, a movie hit theaters that soared past the $100 million box office mark.  It spawned sequels in 1980 and 1983 that did well at the box office between them.  No, not Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope.  It was Smokey and the Bandit, which finished #2 at the box office in 1977, well behind Star Wars.  And in truth, while the first sequel was a box office success, the third and final (thus far) Smokey and the Bandit film did very poorly.

The film’s premise stemmed from the fact that at that time Coors beer was not available anywhere in the U.S., east of Texas.  A New York Times article from 1975 explains why it was so highly prized in those states where it wasn’t sold.  “But it is not so much the product as the mystique surrounding it that is fascinating. It seems to have won a reputation as the elixir of beers, the brew of Presidents, a prize to be smuggled into the East the way Americans abroad used to smuggle in contraband copies of Henry Miller’s novels. Paul Newman, the king of beer‐drinking actors, is said to require Coors on ice at all his movie sets. Henry Kissinger regularly brought cases back to Washington each time he made a trip to California.”

In 1976 while shooting Gator in Georgia, Hal Needham received a gift of a few cases of Coors.  After he discovered the hotel maid was stealing bottles of the brew from his hotel refrigerator, he was inspired to come up with the story that became the film he would direct.

So, let’s recast this very fast-paced chase film.

Burt Reynolds played “Bo Darville” a legendary truck driver known as the “Bandit.”

Burt Reynolds as the “Bandit”

We’ve chosen Hugh Jackman to take the wheel of that incredibly powerful Pontiac Trans-Am.

Hugh Jackman with cowboy hat in place, ready to become the “Bandit”

The term “smokey” was a Citizens Band (CB) radio slang term for any law enforcement officer.  The titular “Smokey” in this film was “Sheriff Buford T. Justice” portrayed by the legendary showman, Jackie Gleason.  Best known for his work on the smash hit TV comedy, “The Honeymooners,” Gleason had some serious dramatic acting chops.  He was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for 1961’s The Hustler.

Jackie Gleason as the titular “Smokey”

We have chosen the very talented Jim Belushi for this role, although he’ll need some padding to fit into the custom-made size 64 uniforms required for Mr. Gleason.

Jim Belushi will make a fine Sheriff Buford T. Justice

When Hal Needham started working on the idea, he planned to do it on a low-budget with country singing star Jerry Reed as the Bandit.  But once Burt Reynolds read the first draft of the script (written longhand on legal pads no less), things changed.  Reed wound up as the driver of the truck, “Cledus ‘The Snowman’ Snow.”

Jerry Reed as “The Snowman”

We decided on a successful country singer who has also had an acting career.  Tim McGraw.

Tim McGraw will play “Cledus Snow”

Smokey and the Bandit was the film that brought Burt Reynolds and Sally Field together romantically.  Two years later she would star in Norma Rae, bringing her the first of her two acting Oscar wins.

Sally Field as “Carrie ‘Frog'” in ‘Smokey and the Bandit’

Who better to play the love interest of a character who lives to drive fast than Olivia Wilde, who did the same in Rush, as the wife of James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth).

Olivia Wilde and Chris Hemsworth in ‘Rush’

Don’t forget, when Sally Field first appears on screen in Smokey and the Bandit, she is wearing a wedding dress.

“Big Enos Burdette” (Pat McCormick, a 6’7″ stand-up comic) and “Little Enos Burdette” (the very talented Paul Williams) are the reason that the Bandit and the Snowman are trying to bring all that Coors beer to Georgia.

Pat McCormick and Paul Williams in ‘Smokey and the Bandit’

There is only actor/comedian with the stature to replace Pat McCormick.  6’8.5″ Brad Garrett

Brad Garrett in ‘The Pacifier’

We’re going to let you choose which of the following two actors should take on the role of “Little Enos”

Verne Troyer in ‘Austin Powers: Goldmember’

Or

Peter Dinklage in ‘The Boss’

Last, but certainly not least, we must find someone to fill the big shoes of Mike Henry.  The former NFL star, who appeared in The Longest Yard and Soylent Green, played “Junior Justice” the man left at the altar by “Frog.”

Mike Henry as “Junior Justice” in ‘Smokey and the Bandit’

We’re going in a different direction this time around.

Jason Biggs in 1999’s ‘American Pie’

Brian Milinsky

Brian Milinsky has served in the military, been an FM D.J. and an award-winning radio news reporter/anchor/writer/editor. He is presently a screenwriter and currently lives in Los Angeles.

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