A friend said it best: “Smokey and the Bandit harks back to a time when gas prices were so low that a man could afford to take both a Trans Am and a fucking semi across an entire state as fast as he and his buddy and his dog could drive for the sole purpose of picking up some beer!” Damn straight. Of course, Bandit (Burt Reynolds) and his 18-wheelin’ sidekick, Cledus, a.k.a. Snowman (Jerry Reed), cross more than one state, tearing through the heart of what is now Bush country — Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas and parts of Texas — on a bootlegging run from Atlanta to Texarkana to pick up 400 cases of Coors. There’s more to Smokey, however, than gas-price porn. A redneck car-chase flick written and directed by a former stuntman, Hal Needham, the movie doubles as a red state–blue state love story (“Do you like Elton John?” inquires Sally Field’s runaway bride) while casting a fledgling CB culture as a multiracial, populist paradise where everyone has a “handle” and gets to play outlaw. It’s like the Internet but with trucks. To make this egalitarian fantasy possible, the uglier side of the South is displaced onto the amply oversize performance of Jackie Gleason as Texas lawman Sheriff Buford T. Justice, a largely improvised thing of raunchy beauty. Released by Universal on DVD, Smokey and the Bandit comes equipped with a “making of” documentary and a feature titled “Snowman, What’s Your 20? — The Smokey and the Bandit CB Tutorial.” Yee haw.
Other recommended new releases: The Bette Davis Collection, Vol. 2: Jezebel, Marked Woman, Old Acquaintance, The Man Who Came to Dinner, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? Two-Disc Special Edition (DVD). Also released this week: DVD: Agatha Christie’s Poirot: Classic Crimes Collection; Alf: Season 3; Avatar: The Last Airbender: Book 1: Water, Vol. 3; The Backyardigans: Surf’s Up!; Clare et Moi; Dark Shadows Collection, Vol. 24; Date Movie: Unrated Edition; Dead Man’s Bluff; The Doris Day Show: Season 3; The Doris Day Special; The Dukes of Hazzard: The Complete Sixth Season; Freedomland; Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex: Season 2, Vol. 5; Joey: The Complete First Season; John Wayne: An American Icon Collection: The Conqueror, Jet Pilot, Pittsburgh, Seven Sinners, The Shepherd of the Hills; Lifespan; Lovesick; The Marilyn Monroe 80th Birthday Celebration Collection; Numb3rs: The Complete First Season; Ozzie; Platoon: 20th Anniversary Collector’s Edition; Queer as Folk: The Final (Fifth) Season; Rough Riders; The Sacketts; Singapore Sling; Stalingrad; Starfest: The Stars Salute Public Television; Stephen Tobolowsky’s Birthday Party; The Valerio Zurlini Box Set: Violent Summer, Girl With a Suitcase; The Venture Bros.: Season 1; A Visit to Ali Farka Touré; Will & Grace: Series Finale; You Know My Name.