- Movie Rating -

Smokey and the Bandit Part 3 (1983)

| August 12, 1983

Burt Reynolds does not star in Smokey and the Bandit Part 3; he only appears in a short cameo at the end that I suspect was either by annuity or blackmail.  Yet, as much I would love to credit Reynolds for declining this wretched film, it is also notable that he decided to forego Terms of Endearment to star in Stroker Ace.  I think he needs new representation, or better friends.

Not fairing much better is Jackie Gleason who does appear in this film in the same year that he got roped into playing the role originated by Paul Newman in The Sting II.  This once-great comedy icon who had his own network TV show from 1952 to 1955, earned an Oscar nomination for The Hustler in 1962 and has his place in comedy history cemented as The Great One, here offers up comedy not fit to line the bottom of a birdcage.

And, let’s say as much about this series.  What was, at one time, a fun exercise in high-speed comedy nonsense has ballooned into a fading industry.  The good old boy comedies made into box office gold by Burt back in ’77 boosted largely by the brief upswing in country and western culture of the late 70s and early 80s didn’t exactly offer rising potential.  When you see one set of cars smashing into another set of cars at 120mph, you’ve pretty much seen it all.

The story here has the frustrated Texas sheriff Buford T. Justice (Gleason) at the edge of retirement, taking with him a long history of busting hippies and keeping the highways safe from scumbags and sum-bitches.  But he is challenged by duo Big Enos and Little Enos Burdette (Pat McCormick and Paul Williams) who say that his biggest legacy still eludes him – The Bandit, whose crime is illegally transporting beer across state lines.

The Burdettes put up $250,000 against Justice’s badge that he can’t transport a large amount of fish across the country.  He rejects them and retires.  After a crushingly unfunny montage in which he figures out that retirement is not his forte, he comes back out of retirement and takes the bet.  The rest of the movie is the Burdettes setting up a series of traps to stop Buford and his son Junior (Mike Henry) and even hiring the Bandit’s former sidekick Cletus (Jerry Reed, again) to act as the Bandit.

I don’t know, really, what happened after Cletus took up the mantel of The Bandit – I fell asleep and missed most of the movie.  I know there’s some connection with Colleen Camp, and I know there’s some interaction with the Ku Klux Klan – frankly I don’t want to know.  When I woke up, Buford was about to arrest Cletus before having a hallucination that he was the real Bandit.  That’s when we got the cameo by Burt who tried to sweet talk the sheriff into letting him go.  There was some nonsense about the two needing each other – two sides of the same coin and all that.  I left the movie where it lay, better for me and better for film history, I suppose.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1983) View IMDB Filed in: Comedy