Long live the Bandit
The height of American road-trip films in the 70s saw such cult classics as Vanishing Point, Two-Lane Blacktop and Gone in 60 Seconds, but towards the close of this great decade of mediocre plots balanced with over the top action comedy, a certain mustachioed man took Hollywood by storm with a story composed of daring chases and cheesy one-liners. Burt Reynolds as Bandit in Smokey and the Bandit made the Pontiac Firebird a cult classic and a household name, long before The Fast and the Furious franchise made its billions.
Burt Reynolds passed away at the age of 82 on September 6, 2018, leaving behind a legacy of pure Americana as familiar as extra-large soft drinks and hanging out at the mall with your friends doing whatever was cool at the time. While Reynolds can claim to be a stellar actor with cult classics like Gator, The Cannonball Run and the TV show Hawk, his role as Bandit and his run-ins with the law (in the form of the brilliantly named Sheriff, Buford T Justice) are forever cemented in the hearts and minds of gearheads, especially for the wild stunts and lairy chases in the iconic gold-and-black Pontiac. Burt Reynolds' influence on more recent action film heroes is unmistakable—while only the original can rock the Burt-'stache, there are unmistakable traces of him left in the likes of Bruce Willis, Jason Statham and Vin Diesel.
For his role as Bandit and his involvement in other car-chase filled action films, Burt Reynolds takes his place in the list of actors who are revered equally by Americana geeks, cult classic B-movie lovers, as well as automotive enthusiasts. Rest in peace, Burt—but long live the Bandit.