by Bo Durban - September 17, 2023
On September 17, 1976, on the 16th day of the Filming Schedule, the production crew relocated their operations to Lithonia, GA. This pivotal day saw the First Unit setting up near Redan Community Cemetery to film the Funeral Procession scenes, while the Second Unit was strategically positioned at Redan Park, a mere 8/10ths of a mile to the south. Their mission was to skillfully capture the leap onto the Football Field.
On this filming day, we captured a range of scenes, specifically scenes 163, 169-170, and 171-A. In the final cut of the film, these scenes run concurrently, creating an intriguing narrative dynamic. Notably, scenes 164 thru 168, in which Bandit and Carrie attempt to switch seats, have been strategically moved to an earlier point in the movie to enhance its pacing and storytelling flow.
The first scenes filmed were the Hearse rounding the corner as Trans Am #1 comes flying in to cut in front of the procession. The Trans Am comes in so hard it lifts the left rear tire off the ground.
One standout element of these scenes is the remarkable ad-libbed dialogue delivered by the legendary Jackie Gleason. This unscripted performance adds an extraordinary layer of authenticity and charisma to the scene, solidifying Gleason's well-deserved title as 'The Great One' in the world of entertainment.
Here are excerpts from the Final Draft Screenplay dated 9/2/76:
Several shots were seamlessly inserted into the main scene, enriching the narrative by providing essential context. These shots were filmed separately, at distinct times and locations from the main scene, but expertly integrated to enhance the storytelling.
The Chase - Ojai, CA
The exterior shots of the Trans Am and LeMans interspersed with the Hearse were filmed in Ojai, CA on El Paseo Road. Just a block away from the Shell Station we saw earlier in the film. These scenes were filmed in the 3rd week of December. Just a couple of days before Christmas.
Grave Robber - Close-up
The close up of Grave Robber and the driver were filmed in a studio. I am not sure when or where, but likely in California in December, 1976.
I do recognize the microphone Grave Robber is using. It is a Pace dynamic microphone that came with either the Pace CB166 or Pace CB145 model CB radios.
Bandit and Frog - Close-up
The close ups of Burt and Sally in the Trans Am were filmed using Trans Am #2. The timing would be the 3rd or 4th week of filming. The location would be Georgia. I am not sure of the exact location, but they obviously passed by a McDonalds.
We recognize Trans Am #2 because it has a lose thread on the drivers seat.
The Funeral Procession was filmed in Lithonia, GA in front of the Redan Community Cemetary.
Google Maps - Phillips Road and S Stone Mountain Lithonia Road
You can see the street signs in one of the scenes.
This Google Street View of the intersection is easily recognizable compared to the shot from the movie.
Special thanks to the following people who helped research this scene:
- Tyler Hambrick
- Nikolas Worden
- David Eichelbaum
- Dewey Durban