Snowman takes his turn

Spectacular stunts in search of a story

Published: Mar 20 2014, 01:01:am

Wednesday, August 17, 1983
SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT - PART 3. Written by Stuart Birnbaum and David Dashev. Music by Larry Cansler. Directed by Dick Lowry. Running time: 88 minutes. Mature entertainment with the B.C. Classifier's warning: some coarse language and swearing; occasional nudity and suggestive scenes.

SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT - Part 3. Even the Bandit decided to give this one a pass.
    It's not that Burt Reynolds, the original "Bandit" Beau Darvelle, is stuck up. A genuine good old boy, Reynolds answered the call when his long time good buddy Hal Needham asked him to be in Smokey and the Bandit II (1980).
     The first film had been a hoot. A superb combination of mood, music (composed and performed by Reynolds' co-star Jerry Reed), real romance and manageable scale, it was the second-biggest moneymaker of 1977. (No mean feat when you recall that that year's No. 1 picture was Star Wars.)
    The second film was your basic sequel, a cast reunion with the original's director. Bigger and more expensive than the original, it was also considerably less fun.
    There's no fun at all in Part 3. A collection of car stunts in search of a story, this mirthless country comedy is a barefaced attempt to take the money and run.
    Made-for-TV movie veteran Dick Lowry takes director Needham's once bright and timely concept and reduces it to crude caricature. Once again, we see the wealthy Burdettes, Big Enos (Pat McCormick) and Little Enos (Paul Williams), filling in their idle hours with silly wagers.
    They've bet retired Texas "county mountie" Buford T. Justice (Jackie Gleason) that he can't drive the 1,352 miles [2,176 km] from Miami to Austin in 24 hours. They then lure the Bandit out of retirement to enflame Buford's old obsession with hot pursuit.
    The "real" Bandit not being available, they bribe his old trucking partner "Snowman" Cledus Snow (Jerry Reed) into playing the role. "I'm going to be the Bandit!" Cledus chants, as he dances around his room. " . . . wear the hat, drive the car."
    Along the way Cledus picks up his own lippy runaway, TV pitchwoman Dusty Trails (Colleen Camp). Buford, as usual, is encumbered by his sweetly dim son, Junior (Mike Henry).
    It may be the old gang together again — even Reynolds makes a brief appearance — but it's just not the same. This is one old comedy clunker that never gets out of first gear.

The above is a restored version of a Province review by Michael Walsh originally published in 1983. For additional information on this archived material, please visit my FAQ.

Afterword: Genial, with a quick, easy smile, Jerry Reed was a good old boy with the emphasis on good. He made his feature film debut opposite Burt Reynolds in 1975's W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings. They became good buddies in real life. Of his 10 subsequent movie appearances, four would be in films where he played Reynolds' sidekick. In his one trip to Canada, Reed essentially reprised his Cledus Snow character (and provided a title tune) as Peter Fonda's sidekick in Toronto director Peter Carter's trucker drama High-Ballin' (1978). It was as a musician that Reed achieved top billings. A songwriter and distinctive guitar stylist, he had a 40-year-long career as a recording artist that included such memorable country hits as "When You're Hot, You're Hot" (1971), "Lord Mr. Ford" (1973), the Smokey and the Bandit theme song "East Bound and Down" (1977), "She Got the Goldmine" and "The Bird" (both 1982). Reed died in 2008 at the age of 71.