In 1977 Smokey and The Bandit was released. 1977 was a great year for movies featuring some of the classics we still love including Saturday Night Fever, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Happy Hooker Goes to Washington, and a little movie called Star Wars.
If it wasn’t for Star Wars, then Smokey and the Bandit would have been the top grossing movie for the year. I would have liked to seen the movies combined, so the Sheriff Buford T Justice looks the Bandit in the eye and says “Bandit, I am your father, you sumbitch”
The huge success of Smokey and The Bandit led to a sequel, Smokey and the Bandit II. Smokey and the Bandit II was poorly rated by movie goers.
Although I wanted to be the Bandit, I knew in my heart at a young age that I was more fitted to be the Snowman. Snowman was the trucker who was transporting the Coors beer illegally while The Bandit ran blocker to keep the police away.
At 5 years old I knew I was probably destined to be the Trucker and not the Bandit, but my 5 year old brain was confused on a few topics. Why was it illegal to transport Coors Beer? Why would Snowman want to use such an immature driver who wasn’t fully vested in the sanctity of the mission to deliver the Coors?
The details didn’t matter though, I was just looking to hash out some future career advice as I knew I’d be running the truck one day with my own blocker. But who could run blocker for me? My only friend was Nick. I called him Dodohead. Why? Not sure how it started, but I am honored that my first best friend had the nickname Dodohead. Dodhead definitely wasn’t able to be the bandit, so maybe I’d have to be the Bandit until I could find a good blocker.
I resigned myself at a young age to being the trucker. I wanted to be the Bandit, but I thought that it was “out of my league.” Then Smokey and the Bandit 3 came out. In Sookey and the Bandit 3 there was no Burt Reynolds except for a brief cameo at the end during the credits. When the movie came out people were saying stuff such as
“Whaaaat… Burt Reynolds isn’t in it and the Bandit is being played by the truck driver?!!”
“Yeah man it’s a real bad movie.”
“ Who drives the truck then?”
“I gotta watch it watch it then to see who drives the truck.”
I was expecting to be disappointed that Burt Reynolds wasn’t playing the Bandit. I really liked his character, but I discovered rapidly though that my expected place in life as the Snowman trucker, had now caused ME to become the Bandit. I knew right then that I could be the Bandit in my own way when I grew up. Snowman became the bandit. Yeah he wasn’t as cool as the original Bandit, but it was me this time. This was my show to run now.
I could also relate to the character of Cledus “Snowman” Snow more than Bo “Bandit” Darville. We know that Snowman has an impulsive angry side from driving over the motorcycles in the first movie, yet he loved his dog and led a cool life. As a young kid I couldn’t decide if I would rather be the Snowman/Bandit when I grew up or if Grizzly Adams style of living was more to my nature.
My only concern before seeing the movie was: “Does the new bandit get the girl?” Alas, Sally Fields wasn’t in it, but I held out hope. Snowman did a get a girl though named Dusty Trails.
In hindsight the movie Smokey and The Bandit 3 was a poor movie compared to the first one, but Jackie Gleason’s character playing the Sheriff kept it entertaining. Now days when I watch my annual viewing of the movie, I sometimes think, am I really supposed to be the Snowman in life, or is the Bandit more me?