by Bo Durban - September 13, 2023
Among the many captivating sequences in "Smokey and the Bandit," the Mississippi roadblock stands out as particularly intriguing. These scenes were skillfully captured on September 13, 1976, marking Day 12 of the Filming Schedule. What adds to the allure of these scenes is the ingenious use of local businesses and a remote highway tucked away in picturesque Helen, GA. According to the script, this pivotal segment of the narrative symbolizes a desperate final attempt to thwart Bandit's entry into Alabama, adding an extra layer of tension to the story.
The scenes filmed here were 213 thru 214.
Please take note that in the screenplay, scenes 210 thru 212 and scenes 215 thru 230 are conspicuously marked as "OMITTED." In scenes 210 thru 212, the Sheriff delivers a crucial warning to the Mississippi Highway Patrol, alerting them to Bandit's imminent arrival and his clever license plate change, although the latter detail was also omitted. Scenes 215 thru 230 encompassed a significantly more elaborate series of chase and crash sequences involving the Highway Patrol. It is widely believed that these scenes fell victim to last-minute budget cuts, ultimately leading to their exclusion from the final production.
Here is an exceprt from the early screenplay dated 7/30/76. Bandit drives a Cobra II Mustang in this early version.
Trans Am Slides To A Stop
This stunt was filmed using 2 cars. The in-camera car is Trans Am # 3, the "insert car". It is identified by the "G" logo on the windshield. The exterior Trans Am shot is Trans Am #4, the stunt car. It is identified by the roll bar, the missing fuel tank and custom inboard shock absorbers.
Pushing Patrol Car Into The Creek
This stunt was filmed in 3 parts over 3 days and in 3 different locations.
Part 1 was filmed in front of the Furniture store next to the Rock Shop. We only see a second of this stunt in the movie. This scene was filmed on either 9/13/76 or 9/14/76
Here are some behind the scenes photos of this part of the stunt being filmed. Courtesy of Stunts Unlimited.
Part 2 was filmed 1.3 miles south on GA-75. The same location as the Pond Hopping scene. It appears the same 2 Plymouth Furys were used for this stunt. This scene was filmed on 9/14/76.
Part 3 was filmed several days later in Jonesboro, GA. They must not have liked this stunt, as they re-shot Part 1. This is where we see the 2 patrol cars replaced with a LeMans and Ford Custom
Location - Helen, GA
The roadblock scene was captured right in front of a quaint furniture store, which now happens to be situated next door to the famous Rock Shop. Visiting this filming location is a personal favorite of mine. Remarkably, it remains nearly untouched and retains its authentic charm from the time of the original shoot.
Google Maps - Rock Shop - Helen, GA
The Close Up scene with Burt and Sally was filmed a few day later in Jonesboro, GA. Thanks to this behind the scenes photo, we were able to determine the location and approx date.
Location - Jonesboro, GA
Fascinatingly, the intimate scenes featuring Burt and Sally were actually shot a few days later in Jonesboro, GA. It's in this iconic scene that Burt famously inquires, "Are you ready, Roy?" Remarkably, this location is the very same as the one where the memorable sequence, Fred Goes For A Swim, unfolded. We managed to unearth this intriguing tidbit thanks to a behind-the-scenes photograph. An eagle-eyed detail to note is the absence of the shaft on the CB antenna, which serves as a key identifier for yet another scene filmed at a later time.
Google Maps - Pond - Jonesboro, GA
Thanks to the following people who helped with research for this article:
- Nikolas Worden
- Sabrina Grant
- David Eichelbaum
- Gordon Brown
- Mark An Stephanie Haynes