Monday, May 11, 2015

Burt Reynolds talks "Smokey and the Bandit" and more

Many thanks to our fellow author Brian Lombard, who kindly shares his experience (and photo) with us after meeting Burt Reynolds at an appearance in Philadelphia this past weekend. Us fans of "The Dukes of Hazzard" know Reynolds for not only the references to him during the series' run but also his portrayal of Boss Hogg in the "Dukes" remake movie in 2005 ...

I went to his panel session and got to ask him a question. I asked him to clear up an urban legend regarding "Smokey and the Bandit" Part 3. The film, as released, features Jackie Gleason as Smokey, and Jerry Reed, a sidekick character in the first two movies, playing “The Bandit.” Reynolds did not appear in the film. The legend, though, is that the film was originally shot with Gleason playing BOTH title roles, Smokey and the Bandit, but that test audiences didn’t like it all. To this day, no one involved in the production will confirm this setup, possibly out of embarrassment, but there is enough evidence that has survived, including this trailer released a year before the movie came out. Note that it gives the title “Smokey IS the Bandit.”

So I asked Burt if the legend was true. I’m paraphrasing his reply:

“I didn’t want to do a third one. I had had enough of the series. And they couldn’t get Sally (Fields) to come back, either. She was doing other projects. But the studio wanted to do it. And whenever Jackie Gleason is in a scene with someone else, the other person isn’t really there anyway.”

I was about the third or fourth questioner, and no one had yet said anything about Boss Hogg. I started my question by first saying I loved him in the part, which got a round of applause from the audience.

During the panel, I also learned that his favorite film (why is that question ALWAYS asked?) is "Deliverance," but he also likes "Sharkey’s Machine," which he directed. His favorite person to work with was Frank Sinatra in "The Cannonball Run." One fan asked him about the film he did with Dolly Parton, “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.” The questioner asked, quite shockingly, where Reynolds came down on the issue of legalized prostitution. To say you could hear a pin drop in the room would be an understatement. Reynolds would only offer that he had mixed emotions on the subject, suggesting that he was in favor of it, but he wouldn’t definitively say one way or the other.

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