Without 1977’s Smokey and the Bandit, we might not have had 1980’s The Blues Brothers. (We might not have had The Dukes of Hazzard either, but I don’t have to talk about that.) The over-the-top car stunt aesthetic which also informed 1980’s The Stunt Man took hold in the popular consciousness… oh, who am I kidding? I don’t wanna go all high-falutin’ talking about as fun a flick as Smokey and the Bandit, even though I’m an English major who’s good at overanalyzing stuff, so I’ll keep this simple.
I’ll admit, I didn’t get into the movie right off. For a bunch of reasons, it was an unusual choice for a KUFO Cort and Fatboy Late Night Movie, and we had not quite a sell-out crowd (Friday was a busy night for events), though the turnout was respectable. Sponsors included the odd choice of the U.S. Border Patrol, with one of its vehicles parked outside the Bagdad. (Law enforcement, outside of a film about flouting law enforcement. The Man, outside of a film about sticking it to The Man. I can’t get arrested for what’s in my blog, right? Right?) Somewhat more sense-making, the KUFO Street Team was giving out ’70s Coors paraphernalia (the movie’s about running an illicit truckload of Coors), though of course they weren’t giving out Coors. Was any on sale? A Coors is easier to make than White Russians, and for The Big Lebowski the theatre makes those. Oh God, so many questions, brain hurts, must just watch Burt Reynolds rock the mustache and speed in his Firebird…
And the film won me over. Won over the crowd, too; we hooted and hollered and woo-hooed as well as a sell-out crowd. There was almost no MST3K-ing, either: we didn’t comment much, but that meant there were very few LAME comments.
What there were plenty of were mustaches. Some were glued on. Some were Sharpie’d on. Some were grown. (I’d pondered dyeing mine for a Borat look. I’d pondered that for about one second.) This got people in for free. Two women showed up with mustaches but without the knowledge that they’d get in free, and they were all ready to pay until the ticket seller told them. I added “But thank you for being willing to wear them just for style.” When Fatboy described my one-weekend-only mustache as “like William H. Macy’s in Boogie Nights,” I felt the back of my head to confirm I still had one. A back of my head, that is. Others showed off not just facial hair but chest hair; hey, the Bandit may never have shown his chest hair in the movie, but Burt Reynolds did in real life, so chest hair must Represent!
Thank goodness Jackie Gleason didn’t Represent his chest hair. That is all.
Next month’s Late Night Movie: Ghostbusters. “Let’s all get slimed one more time.”
(Click here over at Culture Pulp to see Cort in his just-for-that-night white trash glory, photo c/o the gleeful Mike Russell.)