Similar to how Smokey and the Bandit is held together by the friendship between Bandit and Snowman, the film’s production was made possible by the bond between star Burt Reynolds and director Hal Needham.
In an exclusive clip from The Bandit, the upcoming documentary about the making of the iconic 1977 film, Reynolds talks about his close relationship with Needham, who died in 2013.
“If he’d been a woman, we’d have had a great marriage,” Reynolds, now 80, says of his best friend, roommate and stunt double.
Other interviewees speak about Needham’s dedication to the low-budget film, which served as his directorial debut after a career as a stunt man.
“They had no faith in Hal as a director,” one interviewee says, as another adds, “He put his reputation on the line to get Smokey done.”
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The preview, like the rest of the documentary, also features memorable clips from the classic film, behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with the movie’s stars and production team.
“You know, in the South, they think of Smokey and the Bandit as a documentary,” Reynolds notes.
Another voice-over reveals that the inspiration for the movie was fairly simple: “Maybe we should make a trucking movie with beers and fast cars.”
That’s what the film essentially came to be about. As Reynolds jokes, “I couldn’t tell you what the story is of Smokey and the Bandit if you put a gun to my head.”
The Bandit airs Aug. 6 at 10 p.m. ET on CMT.