Nobody’s chasin’ me, boy!
Gleason played a bumbling, but determined sheriff who is determined to catch the Bandit, a notorious truck driver who is smuggling contraband across state lines.
Gleason's performance as Sheriff Buford T. Justice was a masterclass in comedic timing and delivery. He brought a unique blend of humor and heart to the character, making him both hilarious and endearing to audiences. Gleason's portrayal of Justice was so memorable that it spawned two sequels, "Smokey and the Bandit II" and "Smokey and the Bandit Part 3," both of which featured Gleason reprising his role as the bumbling sheriff.
What made Gleason's performance so great was his ability to take a character that could have been one-dimensional and make him three-dimensional. While Sheriff Buford T. Justice was certainly a comedic character, he was also a relatable one. Gleason gave him a certain vulnerability that made audiences root for him, even as he was trying to catch the Bandit.
Gleason's comedic timing was impeccable, and his delivery of some of the film's most memorable lines, such as "What we're dealing with here is a complete lack of respect for the law," became instant classics. Gleason's performance as Sheriff Buford T. Justice was so iconic that it has become a cultural touchstone, and the character is still beloved by fans to this day.
In addition to his comedic chops, Gleason also brought a certain gravitas to the role. He was able to balance the humor with a certain seriousness that made Sheriff Buford T. Justice a believable character, rather than a caricature. Gleason's ability to convey both humor and heart is what made his performance so great, and it is what continues to make it a beloved part of film history.