Posted in Disc Reviews by Joshua Noyes
Smokey, aka Sheriff Buford T. Justice (Jackie Gleason), is the prospective father-in-law of unwilling bride Carrie (Sally Field). The Bandit (Burt Reynolds), a maverick racecar driver, makes an 80,000-dollar bet that he can transport a shipment of Coors beer from Texarkana, TX, to Atlanta within 28 hours. It’s important to note that in 1977, it was illegal to sell the Coors brand east of the Mississippi River without a permit; if we don’t note that, then the plot won’t make sense at times.
Already in dange… of arrest from redneck lawmen like Buford T. Justice, Bandit furthers his chances at a stiff jail term when he offers a ride to Carrie, who hopes to escape her unwanted wedding to Justice’s boy. The rest of the film is one long chase; not quite as subtle as a Road Runner/Coyote cartoon, not quite as restrained as a Three Stooges comedy. Universally panned by critics upon its first release, Smokey and the Bandit brought-in close to 50 million dollars at the box office and led to two sequels.
For this transfer Universal went with a VC-1 in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio. This transfer had good accuracy, but suffered from time to time in this area. In some of the outdoor scenes sometimes greens are vivid and at other times they are dull. I also noticed a fair amount of film debris in this transfer. The debris is most notable in brighter/outdoor scenes. At times this transfer really delivers though. In many scenes the actors appear sharp and almost three-dimensional. The action sequences also shinned from time to time with no macroblocking visible.
I watched this film using the English Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 option. I felt this film made good use of the center channel and the front lefts and rights, however it made virtually no use of the surrounds or the LFE. I guess to some extent this is to be expected from a movie from the 1970’s. I will say however the dialog was very clear and understandable. This is a nice improvement over the DVD of this film.
Extras on this release are for the most part are slim. We only get a taste of two things. The first is a section of the disc titled; “Loaded Up and Truckin’: The Making of Smokey and the Bandit.” This was an interesting piece on the making of SATB. It was actually quite enjoyable and I would recommend this one to watch. The second special feature is a silly piece titled, “Snowman, What’s Your 20?” This is essentially a real-life truck driver explaining various CB terms. I would skip this featurette unless this sort of thing floats your boat.
Although I was not blown away with this release with the new video transfer it is however a decent improvement over the DVD version. I enjoyed this movie, just not really the restoration to the print and audio. The film was filled with a lot of exciting chase scenes and action sequences. The video was very inconsistent and the sound was not used anywhere near its full potential. Also some decent extras could have helped as well. However if you are a fan of this film and feel letdown by the DVD version, I can confidently recommend this upgrade.
Special Features List
- Loaded Up and Truckin’: The Making of Smokey and the Bandit
- Snowman, What’s Your 20?