You probably know that screen legend Burt Reynolds recently passed away. We trust that you know that he was one of Hollywood’s brightest stars, in particular if starring in “car movies” was part of the criteria. Active in movies for over four decades, Reynolds was an actor idolized by an entire generation for what he represented; freedom and automotive nirvana. Reynolds himself said he starred in over 100 movies, some of which featured some of the wildest car chases and jumps ever to grace the silver screen. In this article, we will look at the top five Burt Reynolds automotive moments.
Smokey and the Bandit
Released in 1977, Smokey And the Bandit is the quintessential car jumping movie. Produced with a budget of $4.3 million, Smokey & the Bandit posted an astounding worldwide gross of more than $300 million. Featuring a star-studded cast, a key scene in the movie is when Burt Reynolds and Sally Field sail over a broken Georgia bridge in 1977 Pontiac Trans Am as hapless cops pile up behind. Often referred to as the Mulberry Bridge Jump, Waseca Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Waseca, MN says it has been recreated many times to commemorate various anniversaries of the film’s release. Rumor has it that the Smokey and the Bandit movie was directly responsible for over 100,000 additional Pontiac Trans-Am sales.
The Longest Yard
If you thought Burt’s vehicular occupation related purely to American muscle cars, you need to see 1974’s The Longest Yard. The premise of the film sees a disgraced American footballer wind up behind bars for stealing his lover’s Citroën SM. The car chase mayhem features J-turns and carnage before the SM takes a plunge into the sea. Reynolds nailed piloting the Citroën with such skill that he looks like he is a professional stunt driver.
Deliverance was Reynolds’ breakthrough role, and while the film makes for uncomfortable watching, there is at least some car action. Driving a 1970 International Harvester Scout, Burt Reynolds and Jon Voigt traverse through the dense swamplands of the Deep South. The automotive scenes are not back projected, the driving is real and you feel as though you are in the cabin with them. Apparently, the Scout driven in the movie is the very vehicle Reynolds used to travel back and forth from local airport to the Chattoga river during filming. It was reportedly left at the airport and never seen again.
Based around an ex-con teaming up with federal agents to assist breaking up a moonshine ring, White Lightning packed in more car action than had ever previously made it to the big screen. Reynolds’ car was a 1971 Ford LTD Galaxie 500. The vehicle is like a main character in the motion picture, climaxing with a chase sequence that ends with Reynolds’ car sailing from a river bank onto a barge.
The Cannonball Run
We don’t have to tell you much about this one. This movie is about a cross-country car race with Reynolds earning $5 million for four weeks work; this made him the best paid actor in the business. It’s difficult to pick Reynolds’ best moment in the film but when trying to figure out which car to take on the Cannonball rally, he quips: “We could get a black Trans Am,” before answering his own question with “Nah. That’s been done.”