Smokey and the Bandit appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a mostly appealing presentation.
Overall sharpness worked well. Occasional wider shots came across as a little soft, but the majority of the flick offered nice delineation.
No signs of jagged edges or moiré effects appeared, and edge haloes remained minimal. Grain seemed natural, and only a few small marks marred the image on rare occasion.
Bandit opted for a natural palette that held up well. The various hues came across as rich and vibrant through the film, so they developed into the transfer’s strength.
Blacks felt dark and deep, and most low-light shots worked fine. A couple of nighttime elements became thick, but the majority of these components looked well-rendered. Despite a few iffy spots, this was a generally solid image.
Similar thoughts greeted the mostly engaging DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack. Remixed from the original monaural – which also appears on the Blu-ray – the soundscape opened up in a satisfying way.
The soundfield lacked consistency, however. Music occasionally spread to the side channels – especially when we heard Jerry Reed’s theme song – but the score could also sound monaural at times.
This became a factor with effects as well. Given all the action on display, the mix boasted plenty of room for use of the side and surround channels, and it often utilized them in a broad, engaging manner, with pretty good movement and localization.
However, like the music, effects could feel strangely centered at times. These elements usually broadened around the spectrum, though, so the soundfield worked well, especially given the age of the film.
Audio quality also seemed mostly pleasing, though not without more ups and downs. Effects varied because the track occasionally used re-recorded material, and those pieces tended to mesh less than smoothly with the original stems.
Still, effects usually sounded pretty good, and the disconnected new material occurred infrequently enough that it didn’t become a real issue. Most of this auditory information seemed accurate and robust, with only a few instances of distortion.
Music acted as the most consistent aspect of the track. The songs and score always felt full and rich, without any notable issues.
Speech could show its age and display a little edginess/reediness, but the lines always remained intelligible, and they seemed fairly natural. Despite some inconsistencies, this still turned into a fairly positive mix for a 43-year-old movie.
We get a mix of extras here, and the main attraction comes from The Bandit, a one-hour, 24-minute, 23-second Country Music Channel documentary from 2013. It includes comments from stuntmen Gary Combs, Stan Barrett and Billy Burton, Hal Needham’s son David, Longesy Yard producer Al Ruddy, Bandit producers Robert L. Levy and Mort Engelberg, Hal Needham’s friend John Radewagen, writer/director/stuntman Hal Needham, NASCAR driver Tony Stewart, musicians Brad Paisley, John Rich and Toby Keith, and actors Burt Reynolds, Paul Williams and Linda McClure.
We also get some archival comments from Reynolds, Hal Needham, Reynolds’ father and actor Jackie Gleason.
“Bandit” mixes info about Burt Reynolds and Hal Needham with notes about the production of Smokey and the Bandit. With almost an hour and a half at its disposal, the show gets plenty of time to explore the movie and its main participants. It does so well to become a vivid and engaging documentary.
Two film-related featurettes follow, and Loaded Up and Truckin’ spans 19 minutes, 59 seconds. It brings notes from Needham, Reynolds, Gleason and Williams.
“Loaded” covers the film’s roots and development, casting, cars and stunts, music and the flick’s release. While enjoyable on its own, almost all the information found in “Loaded” already appears in the “Bandit” documentary, so you won’t find much novel material here.
Snowman, What’s Your 20? goes for eight minutes, 16 seconds and features Reynolds and trucker Steve “Big Dog” Cronin. “Snowman” provides a look at CB lingo and proves reasonably interesting, though Cronin gives Bandit too much credit for the 1970s CB craze, as CW McCall’s mega-hit 1976 song acted as the initial impetus for that.
In addition to the film’s trailer, we get two featurettes under the banner of 100 Years of Universal. “The ‘70s” goes for 11 minutes, one second as it provides notes from filmmakers Peter Berg, Steven Spielberg, John Landis, Peyton Reed, Amy Heckerling, Ron Howard, Judd Apatow, Hal Needham, Ivan Reitman, and Stephen Daldry, writers David S. Ward and Bob Gale, former Universal executive Edgar Bronfman, Jr., journalist Geoff Boecher, and actors Russell Crowe, Ted Danson, Paul Rudd, Dermot Mulroney, Danny DeVito, and John Krasinski.
In “The Lot”, we get a nine-minute, 27-second piece in which we hear from Spielberg, Rudd, Reed, Reitman, Berg, Landis, Howard, filmmakers Michael Mann, Phil Alden Robinson, and John Carpenter, NBC Universal Archives and Collections director Jeff Pirtle, Universal Studios Hollywood tour guide Molly Orr, and actors Dan Aykroyd and Meryl Streep.
“’70s” discusses The Sting, American Graffiti, The Jerk, Smokey and the Bandit, National Lampoon’s Animal House, and Jaws. “The Lot” takes us around the Universal Studios locations and tells us a little about movies made there.
As noted, we hear a little about Bandit in “’70s”, and some brief snippets appear in “Lot” as well. Despite the featurettes’ essential disconnect from Bandit, they’re both pretty fun. While they aim to promote the greatness that is Universal, they’re still light and likable.
One of 1977’s biggest hits, Smokey and the Bandit holds up surprisingly well across the decades. A loose mix of comedy and auto-based action, the flick manages to deliver 96 minutes of fun. The Blu-ray brings generally good picture and audio along with bonus materials led by a fine documentary. Bandit turns into an entertaining romp.