Drop everything and get to a theater.

By Melissa Locker
December 06, 2019
Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

Smokey and the Bandit, one of the greatest Southern road trip movies ever made, is about to celebrate its 40th Anniversary. To mark the occasion, the classic film is returning to theaters on Wednesday May 24th so fans can watch Burt Reynolds try to outwit the law on his high-speed race from Atlanta to Texas.

The film came from the mind of​ Academy Award winning stuntman-turned-writer/director Hal Needham and it's in his honor that the film is returning to theaters. The action-packed movie follows Bo "Bandit" Darville (Reynolds) and his trucker buddy Cledus "Snowman" Snow (Jerry Reed) and his adorable basset hound Fred on their mission to smuggle some 400 cases of Coors beer from Texarkana, Texas, to Atlanta. They had to smuggle Coors, because back in the 1970s, Coors was unavailable east of the Mississippi. Bringing it from Texas was basically bootlegging, which Southerners may know a thing or two about.

While the movie's main plot doesn't age particularly well (after all Coors is available everywhere these days), it's still a fun romp involving trouble-making tycoons, Jackie Gleason as a Texas lawman on a mission, an Arkansas Diablo sandwich in a star-making turn, a sweet T-Top Trans Am, and Sally Field as a runaway bride thrilled to join Bandit in his spree.

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The movie also featured some laugh-out-loud worthy lines (many of which were ad libs) and jaw-dropping car stunts courtesy of Needham's past as a stuntman on TV shows like Rawhide and Mission: Impossible. Plus, there's an incredible musical soundtrack provided by Jerry Reed. Don't be surprised if you find yourself humming "Eastbound and Down" days later.

In its original 1977 release Smokey was bested at the box office by a little film called Star Wars (…perhaps you've heard of it?) but if we all go see the movie tomorrow, perhaps we can take it to the top of the box office where it belongs.

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