Smokey and the Bandit [1977]

It's easy to assume this is just another dumb redneck comedy from Burt Reynolds's years of underachievement. But it's not bad as a dumb redneck comedy at all. Directed by career stuntman Hal Needham, Smokey and the Bandit is just a goofy chase starring a bunch of Reynolds's Hollywood cronies. New to the job as film boss, Needham brings a silly but energized sensibility to the production and an action man's need to see things moving. But he also has a distinctive feeling for relationships, and he's good with a joke. Put all that together, and Smokey is, at the very least (and unlike its sequels), a simple and original pleasure. --Tom Keogh

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