Director Jesse Moss dives into the making of one of the biggest movies of the 1970s, 'Smokey and the Bandit,' and how it sealed Burt Reynolds' legendary...
Burt Reynolds, left, and "Smokey and the Bandit" director Hal Needham. CMT
There’s nothing better for a filmmaker than when they're given the green light to make a movie. But as with everything in Hollywood, there’s a catch.
For director Jesse Moss ("The Overnighters"), the only way he could make a documentary about the classic 1970s movie “Smokey and the Bandit” was to also have its star involved.
“But I had never met Burt Reynolds,” Moss recently told Business Insider.
This led Moss to Jupiter, Florida, to find the reclusive 80-year-old legend and convince him to be in his movie.
However, Moss didn’t just nab Reynolds. He also stumbled upon an archive that turned his film into much more than a documentary about a famous movie.
“The Bandit,” premiering on CMT Saturday, August 6, does give a behind-the-scenes look at one of the most improbable hit movies of the late 1970s, but thanks to incredible archival footage, it also takes us inside the life of Reynolds, who at the time was the biggest movie star on the planet.
Burt Reynolds, left, and "The Bandit" director Jesse Moss. Mike WIndle/Getty
“There was such a rich archive. I thought let’s let these guys tell the story in their own words,” Moss said. “And, as you hope happens with an archive film, live in the period.”
Moss’ treasure trove was located deep inside Reynolds’ estate in Jupiter. After Reynolds came on board the project, he opened his doors to Moss, including a room dedicated to his achievements over the decades.
“We’re at his house doing the first interview with him and afterwards I ask him if he has old photos we can use, and he said, ‘Yeah, look in there,’” Moss recalled. “He has an entire room that’s a personal archive of things untouched since 1974. Scrapbooks that his mother kept. Copies of television appearances. For a filmmaker it was like that scene in 'Indiana Jones' where you see this vast warehouse of archived boxes.”
For a month Moss’ image researcher and coproducer spent their days in the room, scanning 6,000 images and shipping many of the tapes, which included rarely seen Reynolds appearances and footage of his short-lived talk show, back to New York to be transferred from video to digital for the movie.
“I was really flattered that they wanted to do it,” Reynolds told Business Insider. Smokey and the Bandit "was some kind of strange little miracle in a way, for the fact that it made so much damn money and it was so much fun to do.”
But there became a point when Moss was overwhelmed by the material.
Your browser does not support the video tag. UniversalThe success of the movie (which had a worldwide gross of over $300 million on a $5.3 million budget), the stardom of Reynolds, the movie giving a spotlight to the South, even the popularity of being a trucker — there could be multiple movies dedicated to the “Smokey and the Bandit” phenomenon.
“And early on I was trying to put them all in one movie,” Moss said.
But taking a step back, he got to the core of the story: a buddy movie between Reynolds and his good friend “Smokey and the Bandit” director Hal Needham, who was Reynolds' former stunt double before becoming a director. (Needham passed away in 2013.)
“The film is an elegy to [Reynolds] and his career and his relationship with Hal,” Moss said. “When we started the project, someone who knew Hal really well said he hated documentaries because he thought they were boring, so I set a goal for myself to make a documentary that was fast and funny and had heart.”
“The Bandit” is certainly all those things.
Here’s a clip from “The Bandit.”
- Toronto International Film Festival 2016: The Top 10 Movies You Need to See
- 18 Toronto Film Festival Premieres We're Looking Forward To
- Canadian movie makers at Toronto film fest making 'bold moves,' say organizers
- Mel Brooks to intro Young Frankenstein and talk about Gene Wilder
- TIFF 2016: Canadian movie makers pushing creative boundaries
- Shia LaBeouf almost starred in “Suicide Squad”
- 'Epidemic of invisibility' for women and minorities in film, TV cited in new study
- Hollywood is 'epicentre of cultural inequality', according to new study
- Mel Gibson calls 'Batman v Superman' a 'piece of sh-t'
- Steven Spielberg turns Birmingham into a dystopian city as he shoots new film Ready Player One
- King Ange: How Postecoglou rules the roost
- Joyce grilled on Rinehart donation
You might also like
- 'It's like a second Christmas': Montreal tourism booming
- Do I really need that? Confessions of a Rio-bound over-packer
- Montreal teen with prosthetic leg overcomes obstacles at Spartan Race
- Moose and deer poachers were fined $130K
- Simona Halep triumphs over Keys in Rogers Cup final
- Are Quebec's rivers getting too loud for belugas?
- 3rd annual Fundy Mawew draws American tourists
- Moncton nightclub evacuated after 'bear spray' incident
- Carleton Martello Tower hosts 'Victory Drive'
- People in Dorchester hopeful penitentiary gets back prison farm
- 'It's a pleasure for me to be here,' says PM Justin Trudeau from Vancouver's Pride Parade
- 3 'armed and dangerous' individuals sought after Newfoundland death, home invasion
- Powerful South Carolina political consultant implicated in indictments of a veteran state senator
- Will Donald Trump get a second Supreme Court nomination?
- "Hazing" rituals await Supreme Court's "junior justice" Neil Gorsuch
- The hunt is on for Planet Nine. Here's how to join it
- Trump approves controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline
- Trump praises 'Fox & Friends,' renews old feuds in early morning tweets
- Rex Tillerson finally answers question from NBC News' Andrea Mitchell
- First Read's Morning Clips: The Latest in the Russia Investigation
- Spicer: 'I've let the president down'
- Russian President Vladimir Putin met with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday
- OMB Diriector Mick Mulvaney: Washington's 'a lot more broken' than Trump thought
- Trump attacks conservatives over failure of health care bill
- A very consequential week didn't go well for President Trump
- Health Care Showdown: Republicans look to go big or go home
- No deal on health care bill after conservatives meet with Trump
- CA gov on those supporting health bill: 'Their name is going to be mud'
- Give it to me straight, doc: Is Obamacare dying?
- First Read's Morning Clips: Waiting for CBO
- 14 People Share What's It's Really Like to Have An Ex Who Is Now Their In-Law
- The Internet Is Freaking Out About The Way This Chef Cuts Pizza
- Angels manager Mike Scioscia rethinks the use of his closer in tight games
- Chemistry onstage makes Faith Hill and Tim McGraw a top tour
- I’m Taking A Break From Social Activism And OMG I Need Like Everyone I Know To Read About This
- 5 'Fate Of The Furious' Moments So Unnecessary, They're Necessary
- Noah Cyrus Reveals Her Next Tattoo & Dishes On Her Famous Family
- The Lonely Island Tell The Story Of How 'Dear Sister' Came To 'SNL'
- 'Marketplace' is America's most popular business show. Now it has ambitious plans to expand
- United fiasco shows airlines' power over passengers — and how it might change
- 'I really did it for my daughters': L.A. radio host Wendy Walsh on why she spoke out against Bill O'Reilly
- Trump backs Fox News host Bill O'Reilly, but advertisers keep fleeing
- IFC swings for the comedy fences with Funny or Die's 'Brockmire'
- MGM to spend $1 billion for full control of the Epix movie service
- YouTube TV launches today. It has some cool features and some big drawbacks
- 'Boss Baby' to sack 'Smurfs,' and other box office predictions
- Meet the new faces aboard 'Mystery Science Theater 3000's' Satellite of Love
- Werner Herzog wouldn't live anyplace other than Los Angeles, 'the city with the most substance'
- 'A blemish on America': The arts world reacts to proposed cuts in Trump's budget
- Brian Grazer and Ron Howard's Imagine Entertainment is getting into the booming, competitive animation business
- Fox News faces another sexual harassment claim as Mercedes and Hyundai pull ads from 'O'Reilly Factor'
- Roman Polanski is denied latest bid to resolve 40-year-old statutory rape case