By Bo Durban
February 12, 2023
Smokey and the Bandit started filming on August 30, 1976. 2 days earlier, Universal Studios sent a "hatchet man" to Atlanta to inform Hal Needham that his budget was cut from $5.3 million to $4.3 million. That was a large percentage of the budget, especially considering that Burt Reynolds was to get $1 million of that.
There was a scramble to change parts of the movie and filming schedule to make it all work. One of the changes was to remove the "Weigh Station" scene and replace it with the "Motorcycle Cop" scene.
It would be hard to imagine the movie without Sally Field giving the finger to Sonny Shroyer which was the start of the grand final chase through Georgia back to the fairgrounds. The premise of the deleted "Weigh Station" scene was similar...Snowman was about to get his load inspected when Bandit rushes in to get law enforcement to chase him and take the attention off the load of Coors.
Here is an excerpt from the July 30, 1976 screenplay. The "Weigh Station" sequence starts at scene 305. According the filming schedule, this was to be filmed on Sept. 22, 1976. They even picked a filming location on I-20 in Conyers, GA. (see original map below)
Character cross reference:
- Bandit II = Cledus/Snowman
- Kate = Carrie/Frog
- Shelby Cobra (aka Mustang Cobra II) = Trans Am SE
A GEORGIA STATE WEIGHT STATION - LATE AFTERNOON
Two GEORGIA HIGHWAY PATROL CARS are parked at the Weight Station. Several TRUCKS move across the scales, down the ramp and back onto the highway.
CAMERA PANS BACK to Bandit I coming down the highway toward the Weight Station.
Bandit sees the scales, slows and pulls off to the side of the road. He lets his motor idle, waiting for Cledus.
KATE: Why are you stopping?
BANDIT: Weight Station.
He clicks over the crystal selector another two notches and keys the mike.
BANDIT: (into mike) Bandit II?
CLEDUS: (over CB) I'm here.
BANDIT: (into mike) You're coming up to the scale house.
CLEDUS: (over CB) I'm cucumber cool.
And Bandit II rolls past them, heading up the ramp toward the Weight Station.
INSIDE BANDIT II
Cledus waits, as an eighteen-wheeler, hauling mobile homes, rolls onto the scales.
Cledus glances over to the:
THE WEIGHT STATION SHACK - CLEDUS' VIEW
TWO WEIGHT STATION WORKERS are inside. One is checking the scales, the other is rapping with TWO GEORGIA HIGHWAY PATROLMEN.
BACK TO SCENE
as the eighteen-wheeler is weighed. Then:
WEIGHT STATION WORKER (over loudspeaker) Okay, you're clear to roll.
The Driver moves off the scales, back onto the highway. Cledus eases Bandit II into first and moves onto the scales.
CLOSE - CLEDUS
waiting. Takes off his gloves. Wipes his hands on his vest. A little nervous. He glances up at the Station house.
The Weight Station Worker is talking to the Georgia heat. The Worker then moves to the loudspeaker.
WEIGHT STATION WORKER: (over loudspeaker) Pull 'er ahead and park.
NEW ANGLE as Cledus leans across Fred and rolls down the window.
CLEDUS: (yelling through window) What's the problem?
The other WORKER starts out of the shack, followed by one of the Georgia Highway Patrolmen.
WEIGHT STATION WORKER: (over loudspeaker) Just pull it over, please. And have your manifest ready.
CLEDUS: (under his breath) Oh, Jesus...
Cledus pulls the big eighteen-wheeler off the scales and into the inspection area.
The other Weight Station Worker and the Georgia Cop approach the truck. Cledus hands them his manifest. The Weight Station Worker checks it out. The Highway Patrolman looks over his shoulder.
WEIGHT STATION WORKER: Paint, huh?
WEIGHT STATION WORKER: Paint ain't usually pulled independently.
CLEDUS: Hey, I'm a truckin' whore. They got the money, honey; I got the time.
The Weight Station Worker laughs. The Highway Patrolman doesn't.
HIGHWAY PATROLMAN: Wanna open her up?
CLEDUS: C'mon fella, this paint's due in Savannah yesterday.
HIGHWAY PATROLMAN: Word is some joker's running blocker for an illegal load. We're just spot checking.
Cledus notices the Weight Station Worker's name tag.
CLEDUS: C'mon, Ebersol... I've been through this chicken coop a hundred times...
But the Weight Station Worker and the Georgia Highway Patrolman have already started toward the rear of Bandit II.
The Weight Station Worker jumps up to unlatch Bandit II's back doors.
HIGHWAY PATROLMAN: (to Cledus) We're just gonna take a quick peek-see. You'll be outta here in no...
Before he can finish his sentence, the sound of SCREECHING TIRES whips his head around.
NEW ANGLE - WHAT HE SEES
Bandit I laying rubber all the way up the ramp, heading straight toward him.
The Highway Patrolman and the Weight Station Worker dive for cover, as Bandit I blasts past them, doing at least 90. Bandit whips the wheel to the right and the Shelby Cobra roars around the Weight Station Shack on two wheels -- tires screaming.
The Weight Station Worker and Georgia Highway Patrolman rush back toward the Shack, completely forgetting Cledus.
ANGLE - BANDIT II
Cledus casually eases the rig into first and rolls out of the parking area, onto the highway.
BACK TO SCENE
Nobody notices Cledus drive off, as Bandit I continues screaming around the Weight Station -- tires smoking.
BANDIT I - RACING ANGLE
Bandit sees Cledus has safely returned to the highway and whips around the Weight Station Shack for the final time and hits the highway on ramp doing 100.
ANGLE - THE WEIGHT STATION
The Two Georgia Highway Patrolmen race toward their cars, leap and take off after Bandit I -- lights and sirens blaring.
THE HIGHWAY - LATE AFTERNOON
Bandit I roars past Bandit II, the Two Highway Patrol Cars in hot pursuit.