Thursday, July 14, 2016

Smokey and the Bandit II

Directed by Hal Needham and screenplay Jerry Belson and Brock Yates from a story by Michael Kane, Smokey and the Bandit II is the sequel to the 1977 film in which the Bandit and the Snowman are asked to transport an elephant to the GOP National Convention in Texas from Miami with the aid of Frog as they’re once again pursued by Buford T. Justice aka Smokey. The film is another adventure of fun and car chases in the South where the Bandit tries to go for another ride as well as deal with some issues as Burt Reynolds reprises his role of the Bandit and Jackie Gleason once again playing Smokey. Also starring Sally Field, Jerry Reed, Mike Henry, David Huddleston, Pat McCormick, Paul Williams, and Dom DeLuise. Smokey and the Bandit II is a wild yet adventurous film from Hal Needham.

The film is sort of a rehash of the first film where the Bandit is being asked to transport an elephant to the GOP National Convention in Texas where he will be paid lots of money as he also has to endure the pursuit of Smokey and his dim-witted son Junior (Mike Henry). Yet, the situation is different as it relates to Big Enos Burdette (Pat McCormick) trying to run for governor of Texas with help from his son Little Enos (Paul Williams) as they deal with their rival candidate John Coen (David Huddleston) where things had gotten ugly. The Burdettes are trying to get the Bandit to help them but the Bandit has become a drunken, washed-up mess who is dealing with heartbreak and the downside of fame. The film’s script doesn’t just explore the Bandit trying to get back in the game with help from his friend Cledus aka Snowman (Jerry Reed) and ex-girlfriend Carrie aka Frog (Sally Field).

Once they learn what they have to transport and get some help from an Italian doctor in Doc Carlucci (Dom DeLuise), the stakes get much higher as it adds to the Bandit thinking more about himself rather than this elephant. The Bandit’s selfishness lead to some tension but also some issues that relates to the Bandit who is still trying to coast on his fame without really thinking about the fact that not everyone likes him. It is a harsh reality that the Bandit has to face while knowing that he is still being pursued by Smokey who has called on some help from his brothers Reggie and Gaylord (both played by Jackie Gleason) for a wild climax.

Hal Needham’s direction is quite lavish for its big action sequences and moments that are quite spectacular as it includes a massive climax involving lots of police cars and trucks. Yet, the film is more grounded where even though Needham uses a lot of wide and medium shots for many of the film’s locations as much of it is set in Florida with a few shots in Texas and Georgia. Needham’s usage of close-ups and some of the medium shots to focus on the characters where they would rest for a while would really be the meat of the film as it showcased characters coping with their situations. Even as there’s a scene where a gas station attendant thinks the Bandit is an asshole as the Bandit takes offense to that as it does add to some of the reality in the film. Needham does manage to balance that reality with some humor where some of it is lowbrow from the opening sequence the Burdettes and their rival do outlandish things to humiliate each other. It all plays into some of the hilarity that occurs throughout the film as it is all about a chase and a trooper trying to get some revenge. Overall, Needham creates a fun and exhilarating film about a trooper trying to catch a trucker.

Cinematographer Michael Butler does excellent work with the film‘s cinematography as it is colorful as it plays into the vibrancy of the locations in Florida along with some unique lighting for some of the scenes at night and in some of the interiors in the truck. Editors Donn Cambern and William Gordean do nice work with the editing as it is straightforward with some stylish rhythmic cuts to play into the humor and action. Production designer Henry Bumstead, with set decorator Richard J. DeCinces and art director Bernie Cutler, does fantastic work with the look of the truck interior as well as some of the places the characters go to.

Carrie’s costumes designed by Bob Mackie are amazing from the wedding dress she wears to some of the stylish clothes she would wear during her trip as it play to her sense of style as opposed to the more cowboy look of the Bandit. Sound editor Gordon Davidson does terrific work with the sound as it is natural with some sound effects that help play into the action. Snuff Garrett does wonderful work with the film’s soundtrack that includes a few country-inspired score pieces by Garrett as well as a lot of country music from Jerry Reed, the Statler Brothers, Tanya Tucker, Mel Tillis, Burt Reynolds, Brenda Lee, and Don Williams.

The film’s superb cast include cameo appearances from Brenda Lee as woman attending the wedding, the Statler Brothers and Don Williams as themselves, Chuck Yeager as a party guest, Mel Tillis as a fairgrounds owner, and football legends “Mean Joe” Greene and Terry Bradshaw as themselves helping out the Bandit. John Anderson is terrific as the Texas governor who is angry over the mud-slinging between Coen and the Burdettes while David Huddleston is fantastic as the Burdettes’ opponent in John Coen who decides to humiliate them in the worst way. Mike Henry is wonderful as Justice’s dim-witted son Junior who is once again left in the altar by Carrie as he would say some dumb-ass things. Pat McCormick and Paul Williams are excellent in their respective roles as Big and Little Enos Burdette as the father-son duo where the former is trying to run for governor and pay off the Bandit and Snowman money to do a job for them in three days.

Dom DeLuise is hilarious as Doc Carlucci as an Italian doctor who is asked to help watch over the elephant Charlotte as he provides some nice comical moments that is fun to watch. Jerry Reed is brilliant as the Snowman who would convince the Bandit to do the job as he would name the elephant as he becomes fond of her where he realizes there is much more at stake instead of money. Sally Field is amazing as Carrie aka Frog as the Bandit’s former flame who joins the job for money while she tries to understand what is wrong with the Bandit while becoming concerned for the elephant Charlotte where she gives the Bandit a hard dose of reality. Jackie Gleason is phenomenal in a trio of roles as Buford T. Justice aka Smokey as well as his brothers in the effeminate Gaylord and the opera-loving Mountie Reginald where Gleason provides a lot of humor and hilarious comments as it’s one of his finest performances. Finally, there’s Burt Reynolds in a marvelous performance as the Bandit as the trucker who is dealing with heartbreak as he copes with doing his job but also attain that status as an icon not knowing that not everyone likes him where it’s a performance that has Reynolds be funny but also display some humility.

Smokey and the Bandit II is an excellent film from Hal Needham. Though it isn’t entirely original as it sort of rehashes everything. It is a film that is all about a lot of fun as it involves elephants, big chases, and all sorts of crazy shit. In the end, Smokey and the Bandit II is a superb film from Hal Needham.

Hal Needham Films: Smokey and the Bandit - (Hooper) - (The Villain (1979 film)) - (Death Car on the Freeway) - (The Cannonball Run) - (Megaforce) - (Stroker Ace) - (Cannonball Run II) - (Rad) - (Body Slam)

Related: Smokey and the Bandit Part 3

© thevoid99 2016


Dell said...

Wow. I remember watching this one and the original often back in the day and having a blast each time. Such fun flicks these are. That third one, though, ugh.

thevoid99 said...

These are films that don't require a lot of thinking as that is what I love about them. They're just good fun and being from the South, it feels like a film shot in my backyard. I miss Old Hickory House.

keith71_98 said...

I can hear that Burt Reynolds laugh in my head right now. I'm from the South as well and there is something about how this movies feel at right at home.

thevoid99 said...

@keith71_98-I know. It feels like you know these people and you hang out with them. And plus, this was when country music was actually tolerable. Though I'm not a fan of country music, there are moments where some of the music is good. What they call country today is shit.