Monday, October 16th 2023
Just about every good car movie has a jump scene. We here at On Screen Cars are big fans of car acrobatics. Through our series Famous Jumps, we explore some of the best of vehicles going airborne. This week we commemorate another fine display of automotive volley. The bridge jump scene from the first Smokey and the Bandit movie. You know the one! But in case you're unsure or haven't seen it. Warning spoilers ahead.
The scene takes place toward the middle of the movie. While traveling through Arkansas, Bandit runs up on a roadblock setup by the local county sheriff's department. Bandit quickly diverts down a dirt road and the officers jump in their cars and chase after him. Sheriff Branford and his associate lead the chase. The young deputy is excited to say the least. Branford confidently tells the deputy not to worry too much about losing him. Because they're approaching the recently dismantled Mulberry Bridge at the end of the road. They think they have the Bandit right in their grip. There's no escape! But little to their surprise the Bandit doesn't go down easy. The Bandit and Frog leap through the air, clearing the bridge. Frog cheers and can't believe they've made it. Now she's on cloud nine with her Bo, wanting to jump more stuff.
It's unclear how long the jump is. But legendary stunt man Hal Needham setup the shot and made Bandit look so good. If you pay close attention you can see sand or red dirt flying through the air. Even as soft was the red dirt may have been I'm sure the stunt driver was rattled and the stunt car never drove again. In an interview with Motor Trend, Hal talks about how they used a special modified Trans Am for this scene. Hal asked his NASCAR race team to send him a 750+ horsepower motor and stick shift version of the SE Trans Am. As you may have noticed the car lands level. Chances are additional weight (often concrete) must have been added to the rear. Between all that and a well built ramp, Hal's team got the money shot we've all grown know and love.
I would like to sperate the fact from the fiction. According to the scene in the movie, they're in Arkansas. However the scene was actually shot in Jonesboro, Georgia. For those interested, the address is 365 Flint River Road, Jonesboro, GA 30238. This will take you a bridge over the Flint River that may have replaced the bridge jumped in the film. Several YouTubers have made videos about visiting the site. Only a few pillars of the bridge remain. But with a bit of imagination you can piece it together. Near the landing site, appears now be a storage center. Amazing how things change and develop. The road in the film was much wider and seemed longer. Nature sure has taken back the road less traveled. Speaking of the road less traveled, it's time for us to hit the dusty trail. Till then, keep your wheels spinning and your beavers grinning. Whatever that means. *wink*
Categories: Famous Jumps