Smokey is the Bandit (lost footage from original version of 'Smokey and the Bandit Part 3'; 1983)

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A rare photo of Gleason in the Bandit costume.

Status: Lost

Smokey and the Bandit Part 3, originally known as Smokey IS the Bandit Part 3, is the third installment in the popular Smokey and the Bandit car chase franchise released in 1983. Universal Pictures ordered a third installment, but two of the stars of the film, Burt Reynolds and Sally Field, declined to participate due to a contract dispute. Jackie Gleason, who normally played Sheriff Buford T. Justice, was tasked with taking on Reynolds role of the Bandit as well.

When the film was shown to test audiences, it was reported that they were confused by the concept, so some additional footage was shot with Jerry Reed's character Cledus filling in as the new Bandit.

The film's original premise circulated for years as part of Hollywood lore and was believed by many to simply be a myth.

Evidence of the Production

Articles and Teaser Trailer

Articles about the film's production were published during the time of filming [1]. It was also rumored that a print of the film existed with the Gleason estate[2]. It is also clear that, in the released version of the film, the stunt driver double for Jerry Reed is a heavy-set man (Gleason's double) in contrast to Reed's slim build.

In 2010, a teaser trailer surfaced on YouTube for the original premise with the original title. Afterward, a photo of Gleason in the Bandit costume found its way online. To date, the teaser trailer is the only film evidence of the original version of the film. None of the original alternate footage (besides the brief clips of the heavy set stunt driver) has been released officially or unofficially.

An online petition[3] was set-up to try and convince Universal Pictures to release the original version of the film.

Close up of scene from Smokey and the Bandit Part 3 featuring a stunt man in Jackie Gleeson's Bandit costume. Stunt scenes in the released cut kept the original shots of Gleeson's stunt double.

The Screenplay

On May 3, 2016, IMDB user "MovieMan-88" announced that he possessed a copy of the script that he was willing to share via PM.[4] The screenplay was titled Smokey Is The Bandit (no part 3 as with the teaser trailer) and was listed as a "Final Draft Screenplay" written by Stuart Birnbaum and David Dashey, complete with production code. It was 93 pages (rule of thumb for the film is 1 page equals 1 minute of screen time), although the released film was only 85 minutes.

The plotline is basically identical to the final version released to theaters, except of course for the character of Bo Darville who was now played by Jackie Gleason as well, which no one but Justice himself seems to notice. Only now, Darville is mute for most of the film, only occasionally imitating Reynolds' signature laugh, except at the film's conclusion, where he imitates Clark Gable's famous line as Rhett Butler from the classic film Gone with the Wind, "Frankly, Dusty, I don't give a damn.". The other main difference in the script is the character of Dusty Trails is a radio D.J. instead of working at a car dealership (like in the released film).


Rare teaser trailer for the film's original concept