Friday, December 6, 2013

Smokey and the Bandit

Smokey and the Bandit
seen on TV @ AMC

I talk a lot about the livable streets movement and how toxic America's car-centric culture is, but that doesn't necessarily mean I'm anti-car. I appreciate them; they're certainly important and they've helped me get around plenty of times in my life (when someone else is driving). I can appreciate a beautiful looking car. And a movie with a good car chase is always gonna be entertaining.

That said, I admit that I had never seen Smokey and the Bandit prior to yesterday. (Don't think I've ever seen Cannonball Run either.) No excuse other than that I just never got around to it... but damn if this isn't one helluva fun movie! It's the kind of film that I wish I could've seen - or been allowed to have seen - when I was much younger.

I used to watch The Dukes of Hazard as a kid, and I can see now that it was very directly inspired by this movie. If I were to watch it now, I imagine I'd be embarrassed by it, which is odd because I didn't feel that way about Smokey. (Well, I guess it was embarrassing enough to see that the beer of choice was Coors.) I guess context may have something to do with it; looking at the film as an adult as opposed to a kid.

I know CBs were a big deal in the 70s. My family never had one, so I never knew what that was like growing up, but seeing it here, it made me think that this must have been like a primitive version of Twitter: everyone's got an alias, there's a distinct vocabulary and language common to the medium, and there's a strong sense of community. I can see why CBs were as popular as they were.

I've only been in a truck once in my life, but unfortunately, I didn't go riding around in it much. I visited my friend Becky, who lives upstate, and she had a neighbor friend who drove a truck. The front part was parked outside his house, without the cargo part, and he took me for a brief ride up and down their rural street. I remember climbing into the seat and being intimidated by the size and the sheer power of the vehicle, and this was just the front part! Nothing quite like stepping into a bus.

In my links post last week I mentioned Retrospace's new movie podcast and their first subject, the film Convoy. One of the points they bring up in discussing that film is that truckers were little different from hippies in the sense that the ones in Convoy, at least, were "stickin' it to the man," and Smokey has that same spirit, even though you'd never confuse Burt Reynolds for a hippie. I'd imagine that ties very deeply into the independent spirit that drivers and especially truckers had back then (and maybe still do; I dunno).

Also, Sally Field is totally hot.

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