Tag Archives: Smokey and the Bandit

Our Week With Eric Church, Carole King, the Bandit and the Nashville Predators

30 May

It has been an eventful week in the SBI World, and we have spent a lot of time in the city 30 miles to the west. For those not up on local geography, that city is Nashville.

On Monday night, we had tickets for Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals in the National Hockey League. The Nashville Predators have been on a magical run through the playoffs and have taken over the city. Long time Predator fans are not happy with the bandwagon people, but we felt that Game 6 was a must-see event. They clinched the championship, and I got to High Five the country music star who sat in front of us. I have no idea who he was, but my wife was not happy that I got to touch him and she did not.

On Tuesday night, I was back in Nashville for a fundraiser. Cumberland University, where I work, is the home of the Martin Van Buren Papers, and a Nashville attorney hosted an event to assist with that project. He has an amazing collection of historic artifacts and opened his office for tours. People paid to see documents signed by George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Davy Crockett, King George III and various other people. It was interesting to see everything and to hear the stories of how the collection came together.

On Wednesday night, I went with my brother and my nephews to a truly cultural event. We went to the theater to see the 40th Anniversary screening of Smokey and the Bandit, a movie that I have seen a million times.

It was great to see the Bandit, Snowman and Buford T. Justice on the big screen, but it was also great to see people with their t-shirts. As bandit tells Snowman when they get to the warehouse full of Coors beer, it was “redneck heaven.” After it was over, I wanted to get a diablo sandwich and a Dr. Pepper.

On Friday night, it was back to Bridgestone Arena, home of the Predators. However, we were not there for a hockey game. We were there to see Eric Church in concert.

I do not know much about the singer, but we had already seen him at a Kris Kristofferson tribute concert. This one was more rocking and raucous. Eric Church is known for wearing sunglasses, and it was funny to see all of the guys in the crowd wearing sunglasses. I reckon that thought some female would mistake them for the performer.

On Sunday night, we went to the Tennessee Performing Arts Center to see Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. It was a great show about the life of a prolific songwriter who also creating on of the great albums of all time. Through professional success and personal tribulation, she wrote songs that became part of the soundtrack for a generation. Now, we have to see the real person in concert.

At some point, I made the statement that I was not going to go into the city for a while. However, I will it will happen because there is too much cool stuff there to do. This week was just a small sample of that.

The Cinematic Legacy of Jerry Reed

8 Mar

The other day, I told the story of our visit to the Country Music Hall of Fame. While writing it, another post came to mind.

Jerry Reed was featured in the museum’s latest exhibits on Nashville musicians. He was one of the greatest guitarists who ever came to town and played on a ton of albums. Chet Atkins thought that Jerry Reed was better than him. In addition to playing for other performers, Jerry Reed also had his own string of hits, and this video from The Porter Wagoner Show provides a good example of his talent.

With all of that being said, some people may know Jerry Reed more for his movies than for his guitar playing. That is why this post is not about his numerous songs. It is about the five movies that, in my opinion, are Jerry Reed’s best.image-8

There is no better time to start the list than now.

5. What Comes Around was released in 1985. It was not a great movie and probably cannot be found anywhere. However, it must make the list because part of it was filmed in my hometown. In the climatic scene, they blow up a building, and, in real life, that building was the original Cracker Barrel. A ton of people went out to watch the explosion.

By the way, they did not really blow up the building. It is still standing.

4. W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings was also filmed in this area. Released in 1975, it was Jerry’s first collaboration with Burt Reynolds, which would lead to the top movie on this list. The movie also starred other Country music performers. It is cool to watch and see some places in Nashville that no longer exist.

3. Gator came out in 1976 and also starred Burt Reynolds. In fact, it is a sequel to an earlier Reynolds movie. It is also different because Jerry played the bad guy. He was a criminal empire of drugs, gambling and prostitution. He also had a sidekick named Bones whose head stuck out of the sunroof of the car.

2. Bat 21 was released in 1988 and was a completely different movie from the other ones on the list. It is a true story that stars Gene Hackman as a pilot stuck behind enemy lines in Vietnam. I will not spoil the plot, but Hackman, Reed and Danny Glover find an ingenious way to get him out. If you have not seen it, then it is worth a watch.

1. Released in 1977, Smokey and the Bandit is one of the greatest movies of all time. If you do not think that, then you are wrong. That is just the way it is. Jerry plays Snowman, the truck driving sidekick of the Bandit, played by Burt Reynolds. Did I say that it is one of the greatest movies of all time? It was the second highest grossing movie of the year behind Star Wars. I really do not know what else to say. It is great.

Bonus

There is one more Jerry Reed appearance that I must mention. In 1972, he played himself in The New Scooby-Doo Movies. His performance of “Pretty Mary Sunlight” may be one of the greatest things that has ever been on animated television.

Dylan, Cash and the Nashville Cats

4 Mar

A few week ago, my wife and I visited the Country Music Hall of Fame, which we like to do when they have an interesting exhibit. This time, they had a couple of exhibits that I wanted to see. The first was about Sam Phillips and Sun Records. The second was about the friendship between Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash and the effect it had on the Nashville music scene.image-7

Nashville has always been known for Country music, but I have been more fascinated with the story of Nashville’s other music. For example, it has a deep Rhythm and Blues history and is where Jimi Hendrix got his start.

I have read about Dylan’s time in Nashville and was interested to see how the Country Music Hall of Fame would present it. They did better than I could have imagined and introduced me to facts that I did not know.

Obviously, Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash were the focus, but that was only the beginning. It covered the artists who were inspired by Dylan’s work in the city and followed him here. It was awesome to see the display on Paul McCartney and his time living in my hometown of Lebanon.image-9

The story of Paul McCartney’s time in town has gone down in local lore, but there were a ton of artists that I never knew recorded here. On the way out, I bought an album of songs that were highlighted in the exhibit, and it provides an example of some of those artists.

Gordon Lightfoot

The Byrds

The Monkees

Leonard Cohen

Country Joe McDonald

Simon and Garfunkel

George Harrison

Ringo Starr

Joan Baez

Neil Young

Derek and the Dominos

Those people are well-known in the history of music. However, this exhibit also highlighted the session musicians who played the music to which those people sang. These are the unsung heroes of Nashville and have become known as the Nashville Cats.

Several people had their own displays, but Jerry Reed was my favorite. Those who only know him as Snowman in Smokey and the Bandit or the football coach in The Waterboy may not realize that he was one of the greatest guitarists to ever play in Nashville. He was the heir apparent to Chet Atkins and had a distinctive style that other players have tried to duplicate.image-8

As always, the Country Music Hall of Fame did a fantastic job with the exhibit. Each time I go to the museum, I learn something new. If you ever make it to Nashville, then you will need to visit the place. Just remember that Country music is not the only music that has come out of this city.

Thoughts on a Funeral Procession

20 Dec

This afternoon, I was driving down the road when I saw blue lights up ahead. It was not a wreck. It was not a roadblock. It was a funeral procession. Like all of the other drivers, I came to a stop as a show of respect for the deceased and their family. While sitting still, a few thoughts crossed through my mind.

I wondered if stopping for a funeral procession is a southern tradition or if it happens in other parts of the country. Hopefully, some of you can answer that question. I just know that it is something people around here do automatically. In fact, I do not think highly of a person when I see them keep driving along.

I also thought about the job of law enforcement during a procession. Obviously, one leads the way. However, others block intersections and make sure no one pulls out in front of the oncoming cars.

Years ago, I was in a funeral procession, and we went through a four-way stop that did not have a police presence. A woman pulled out in front of us with her horn blowing. When she got in front of us, she flipped us off. Apparently, she had gotten mad at all of the people who were running the stop sign in front of her and decided to do something about it.

In recent years, there has become confusion about when the procession has completely passed. In the old days, drivers turned on their headlights as a sign of being part of the group. Now, the headlights of cars are on all the time. Which headlights are part of the procession and which ones are not? Having a squad car at the back might fix this problem.

After all of that, I thought about Sheriff Buford T. Justice. In Smokey and the Bandit, Jackie Gleason is chasing Burt Reynolds and gets caught up in a funeral procession. Like all good southerners, he stops out of respect. He does not know that the funeral director has slowed down the procession to help the Bandit.Buford

With hat in hand, Sheriff Justice proclaims, “If they’d a cremated the sum-bitch I could be kickin’ that Mr. Bandit’s ass around the moon by now.”

Burt Reynolds made another movie that ended with a funeral procession. In White Lightning, he played Gator McKlusky, a convict who goes undercover to expose a crooked sheriff. Of course, Burt wins and walks off as the hearse carrying the sheriff’s body goes by. Also, “Way Down Under” is playing over the entire affair.

Anyway, I go back to my original question. Do people in other parts of the country stop for funeral processions? If so, then what do you think about as you are sitting there?

The End

A Blogging Recalibration

4 Nov

My blogging anniversary came and went with little fanfare. I did not say anything about it, but I got one of those silver trophies from the WordPress folks. It is hard to believe that I have been blogging for all this time.

Through the years, I have learned a lot. I have learned that some people are interested in the mysteries of gas pumps, and other people want to know the deeper meanings of Smokey and the Bandit.

I have also learned that friends can be made through the Internet. There are people out the who I have come to know, respect and care about. Some of them have left the blogging community, but others are still typing away.

Many of you know that this blog started in a therapy session. My therapist felt that I needed to release some mental frustrations and suggested a diary of some sort. I felt that a diary would not properly release the tension because I would be the only one reading it. The internal noise needed to be released in a different way. Hence, this blog was born.

Those early days were full of caustic writing that was sarcastic and, at times, mean-spirited. In fact, my first comment was negative and came from someone who I knew. The blog was anonymous, and I have still not figured out how they found it.

Getting that comment was also surprising because hardly anyone read the blog. The first month saw an average of two readers a day. However, I kept writing because that was two readers more than there would be if I did not write.

At some point, I began to focus on the statistics. More readers found their way to this place. As the content grew, the readership grew. However, I wanted more and decided to publicize the blog on Twitter.

Honestly, that may have been a mistake. I had to delete some early posts because I did not want people in my real life to read them. Of course, it was impossible to get rid of everything that came pouring out of my mine, and some people close to me were hurt by the words they found.

Publicizing the blog also transformed my writing. A lot of the thoughts inside my mind had to stay there because not everyone needs to know what goes on in there. I decided to stay away from controversial subjects and go with more entertaining stuff. At least, topics that I think are entertaining.

Along the way, the blog kept growing. I was lucky enough to be Freshly Pressed. Although, I still do not understand how a post that included Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man caught the attention of those who decide what is worthy of being Freshly Pressed.

Getting Freshly Pressed created another goal. I wanted to reach the same numbers in another month that I got in the Freshly Pressed month, and that finally happened earlier this year.

I write all of that to write the following. Statistics have become more important than the writing. I have put bad posts out there just for the sake of publishing posts. This means that I have veered completely away from what this blog is supposed to be.

I started the blog to get words out of my head. In a lot of instances, those words were not nice. When I began to publicize the blog, the words changed, but the goal of the blog did not. I was still getting words out of my head. When statistics became the focus, I was typing words that were not really in my head. At least, they were not in there for long.Recalibration

As of today, I am going to recalibrate the blog. I am not going to publish posts just for the sake of numbers. I am going to write when something needs to be written. In other words, when something needs to come out of my mind. That means that I will not be writing as often, and the numbers will probably decrease. However, I hope the quality of the blog will improve.

If These Movies Are On Television, Then I Will Watch Them

30 Jul

The other day, I wrote a post about the BBC and its list of the 100 best American films, and a commenter said that I should provide my own list of top movies. Unfortunately, I am not a movie critic and cannot delve into the intricacies of acting and directing. I only know what movies I like and do not like.

With that in mind, I decided to take this challenge into a different direction. When I am scrolling through the guide, there are some things that I will automatically click on and watch for a while. This includes a few movies with different levels of quality. If I cannot make a list of the greatest movies of all time, then I can make a list of the 10 movies I will always watch if I see them on the television guide.

They are coming at you in the order that I thought of them.

Manhunter (1986) – This was on last night and led me to write this post. It is the first movie about Hannibal Lecter and is directed by Michael Mann. In other words, it is Silence of the Lambs meets Miami Vice. You may have seen its remake, Red Dragon, but this one is a lot more entertaining.

Flash Gordon (1980) – Let Dino de Laurentiis try to capitalize on the Star Wars phenomenon, and this is what you get. It has some great actors and some not-so-great actors, but they are all having a good time. It would have been awesome to been in the room when Flash attacked Ming’s guards by playing football. On top of that, Ornella Muti is there in all her glory.Ornella

Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man (1991) – Two stars of the 1980s, Don Johnson and Mickey Rourke, try to make their transition into the next decade. They ride motorcycles. They go after drug dealers. They act cool. Well, acting might be too strong of a word. I have already written about this one and will move on down the line.

The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976) – When I become king, a new law will make its way across the land. As a testament to its greatness, everyone must watch this movie. Clint Eastwood is awesome, and it is filled with awesome quotes. I should know because I have them all memorized. In the early days of this blog, I wrote an extensive post about this one.

Smokey and the Bandit (1977) – As with the previous movies, I have already written about this one. Burt Reynolds is at his peak. Jackie Gleason is hilarious. I saw it five times when it was in release and can never watch it too many times. The only problem is that television cleans up the language and, in the process, destroys a lot of the laughs.

El Dorado (1966) – I could have listed a ton of John Wayne movies, but I think I click on this one more than any other. It could be because this one is on regularly. Anyway, it is a script that was filmed several times, but it never gets old. Oh yeah, there is one other thing. As I have written before, it is a poetic movie.

The Legend of the Lone Ranger (1981) – This is a terrible movie. Klinton Spilsbury never made another movie. Heck, he did not really make this one. James Keach was brought in to dub his lines. However, it has some redeeming qualities. Merle Haggard sings the theme song, and part of it was filmed in Monument Valley.

Logan’s Run (1976) – I am a big fan of dystopian movies, and this is one of my favorites. How can post-apocalyptic life be bad with scantily clad women everywhere? On top of that, a push of a button can make one of the scantily clad women appear instantly in your apartment. The only thing that could go wrong is that Carrousel ride at the age of 30. On second thought, it would probably be better to live with a bunch of cats in a destroyed Washington, D.C.Cats

For Love of the Game (1999) – This is a movie that used to hit me on a deep emotional level. As the years pass, it does not have the same effect. Despite that, it is still a good movie. Kevin Costner has made a bunch of sports movies, but this is my favorite one. It could be because Vin Scully is calling the game.

Legends of the Fall (1994) – This is another movie that reaches me on an emotional level, but it is also interesting in a historical sense. Obviously, it is about a family that goes through years of heartache. However, it is also about rum-running during Prohibition. They talk about the Volstead Act and smuggling alcohol across the Canadian border. I could go deeper into a historical analysis, but I may need that for another post.

Now, let us analyze the list by decade.

1960s – 1

1970s – 3

1980s – 3

1990s – 3

Interestingly, nothing made in the past 16 years has knocked a movie off this list. I wonder what that means.

Then, there is this. Over half of the list was filmed between 1976 and 1986. Those must have been formative movie years for me.

Anyway, those are the movies that I will always watch if I find them on television. What are a few of the movies that would make your list?

John Wayne’s Worst

3 Mar

The other day, there was an interesting comment on one of my posts. Andrew Petcher, who has a great blog, asked my opinion about John Wayne movies. Simply, which is the best, and which is the worst? I have given this question some thought and come to a conclusion

It is easier to pick the worst because there are a bunch of great ones. With that in mind, this post is about the movie that I think is John Wayne’s worst.

Of course, there have to be some rules. First, I must have seen the movie. After all, I have not seen all of the Duke’s films, and there must be some clunkers that I have missed (stuff like B Movies and The Conqueror). Second, John Wayne needs to make more than a cameo appearance (stuff like How the West Was Won and The Greatest Story Ever Told).

Now that the rules have been established, I am going to get to the point. In my opinion, the worst to star John Wayne is Rio Lobo, which was released in 1970. This could be your favorite movie, and you might be asking why. Well, the reasons are as follows.Rio Lobo

1. It is like one person wanted to make a Civil War movie and another person wanted to make a Western. Instead of making a decision, they decided to mash both together.

As a historian of the American West, I know that people went westward after the Civil War. However, this movie jars the viewer with a sudden transition. In one scene, John Wayne is a cavalry officer. In the next, he is his old gunslinging self.

2. It is the third time this script is filmed, and it is the worst of the bunch. There is no way that it compares to Rio Bravo and El Dorado. The third time is not the charm when you are telling the same story. Oh yeah, the story. It goes like this.

The bad guy is trying to control all of the land around the town.

The bad guy, or someone related to the bad guy, gets arrested.

The good guys realize that they have to barricade themselves in the jail until help arrives.

One of the good guys gets captured.

There is a prisoner swap, which will give the bad guy freedom to do what he wants.

During the final showdown, something surprising happens to give the good guys the advantage.

There is a sidekick who provides comic relief.

The is also a drunk on the side of the good guys.

On the side of the good guys is a young man with a cool name. In Rio Bravo and El Dorado, they are, respectively, Colorado and Mississippi. In Rio Lobo, they skip the states and go with Tuscarora.

I could go on, but you get the point.

3. The supporting cast leaves a lot to be desired. Although, I am probably being unfair in this point because the actors took later roles that hinder my judgement.

The big bad guy is played by Victor French. Honestly, I cannot get out of my mind that he is Chief Roy Mobey on Carter Country. “Handle it! Handle it!”Carter Country

The crooked sheriff is played by Mike Henry, who would go on to play Junior in Smokey and the Bandit. “Put the evidence in the car!”Junior

Heck, Jack Elam, who played the crazy old drunk guy, was not even a good choice. He was ten years younger than John Wayne.

Luckily, this is not a movie where John Wayne, like in the first two, ends up with a girl who is too young for him. Instead of falling in love with him, they tell him that he is comfortable. However, there is an interesting story about one of the young actresses in Rio Lobo.

Sherry Lansing plays Amelita, who has her face slashed by the sheriff. In the final scene, she kills him. Yep, she shot Junior.Amelita

However, that is not the interesting part. In later years, she became the first woman to head a Hollywood Studio.

Anyway, these are a few of the reasons why I think Rio Lobo is John Wayne’s worst movie. Now, I have a question for all of the fans of the Duke. What do you think is his worst movie? Of course, you might be such a fan that you do not think any of them are bad.