Documentary Spotlight: The Bandit

Photo by Ken Wilson

By Ken The Critic @kenthecritic

Do you know how charming Burt Reynolds was in his heyday? Well, even at 80 years old, he still has his charisma and it was obvious when he attended SXSW for the screening of the World Premiere of The Bandit for the Documentary Spotlight category. A woman even threw her bra up on the stage for him.

Using interviews of the now departed Director and stuntman, Hal Needman, and archive footage, as well as new interviews of Burt today, this documentary lets you get to know Reynolds and Needman if you haven't already and what it took in making Smokey and The Bandit.

In The Bandit, you learn about how the industry loved Burt Reynolds because he was an actor that wanted to do his own stunts, which in turn saved them money. He always said that the jocks were the stuntmen and that's what he wanted to be. Eventually, he got a stuntman named Hal Needham and what began is one of the best bromances in history. Hal wanted to be an actor so he basically wanted to be Burt and Burt wanted to be him and they each had such a tremendous respect for each other.

Hal was going through some things and asked Burt if he could move in with him for a while. Burt was welcoming to it and Hal ended up staying for 10 years because they got along so well. While he was there, he started working on the script of Smokey and the Bandit and it hardly had any dialogue. Hal only knew how to be a stuntman so when he started directing, he would ask the actors to do a lot of improvisation, but what they had on their hands was a hit film. He goes into bringing in Jerry Reed and his style and singing that provided the soundtrack. He showed where the distributor wanted to change the music to an orchestra when the cars were racing and how it changed the whole tone like it was a Superman movie and Hal wouldn't let it happen. You can tell that the actors had a lot of fun making the film and you will have just as much fun watching The Bandit.

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