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*
I think everyone can agree that National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation is a Christmas Classic. I know my brother and I watch it every year. My office co-workers and I are constantly referencing the movie during the holidays. But one scene in the movie I think that is often over-looked is the car chase and big jump during the beginning of the movie. It could be that we're too busy getting settled in with our drinks and snacks to take note. But not this year! We want to commemorate the big jump scene as an OnScreenCars.com "Famous Jump." With that let's explore the scene.
The opening scene is set in rural Illinois. The Griswolds are on their way to find that perfect Christmas Tree. However according to the filming locations reference on IMDB. The scene was shot in Summit County Colorado near Breckenridge. I have to say. It does makes sense. I don't recall rocky mountains in rural Illinois. In the picture above you can see the rockies in the background. That's the magic of Hollywood isn't it? Now for a little background on the car.
The family car in this film unlike it's predecessor is not a custom creation of George Barris. The simulated woodgrain on the side of the body was more than likely was added on. The Ford Taurus Wagon either did not come with this feature or it was extremely limited in production. However it did come on the Ford Country Squire Wagon being sold at the same time. I have a belief that the producers had the woodgrain on the car to pay tribute to the orignal Wagon Queen Family Truckster. I like to think of it as an updated Family Truckster.
According to the commentary Dick Ziker was a stunt coordinator and stunt-driver that drove the car under the truck. He also did the jump. From the commentary it sounds like the jump was challenge because the car was front-wheel drive. You have to remember the 80's were the beginning of mass-production of front-wheel drive cars. A front-wheel drive is heavier in the front and less balanced as a real wheel drive car. They director said the car kept wanting to nose dive as the car came down from the jump. I'm glad they brought it up and that the jump was in fact real. No special effects. So there we have it. Another Famous Jump! Besure to check out our great links to Amazon Christmas Vacation goodies! Happy Holidays Folks!
Pretty much every college student has taken a road trip some where. I was guilty of taking a few myself. But I can't say I jumped a car over a bridge like the guys in the movie Road Trip. A movie about four guys on a quest to drive half away across the country to prevent one of their girlfriends from seeing a explicit video tape. Along the way they're dealt a series of wild challenges and obstacles. The crew talk one of their nerdy friends, Kyle Edwards into borrowing their car (a 1991 Ford Taurus) for the 1800 mile trip from Ithaca, New York to Austin, Texas.
Things go wrong fairly early in the journey. They start off taking shortcuts that lead them to a bridge that's out of commission. Faced with the choice of either turning back and losing valuable time or going Dukes of Hazard style over the short gap in the bridge. As you can imagine the group chooses the later. Working out the physics of the car jump they predict they can clear the gap by approaching the bridge at 60 miles an hour. Nervous car owner Kyle reluctantly gets climbs into the backseat and puts on a crash helmet.
They back the car up and take off down the dirt road leading up to the bridge. They all brace for impact and the car hits the bridge. Like pure movie magic they clear the bridge and come to a hard landing. The grill and front bumper shatters on contact. They're all celebrating until all four wheels fall off and the air bag deploys. Thinking they've met the worst of the incident the car bursts into flame destroying the car and their stuff. Awesome!
Of course now they've gotta figure out what to do next. But we'll let that be for now. Don't wanta ruin the story for ya. But what about some of serious goofs we're seeing here? Could a 1991 Ford Taurus really jump a bridge? I'm sure the SHO package would help drastically! Well I guess you can jump anything that far with the right kinda power and if you hit it right. I did a little bit of research and I found a interesting article where someone talks about the physics behind the jump. Pretty interesting stuff. But the goof that stuck out the most to me was the misrepresentation of the actual weight of the car.
A 1991 Ford Taurus curb weight is roughly 3100 pounds. Sorry guys 1500 pounds is more like a sport car. Another site notes that the front wheels lift up unnaturally during the jump. I haven't been able to find any technical information about the jump yet. But I'm fairly sure this feat was pure movie magic. But none the less if it wasn't, I wouldn't be surprised if the car didn't end up like the one in the movie. But I felt this jump is worth mention. Road Trip is and always will be one of my favorite college movies. Till next time, don't go sending out video tapes that you wouldn't want anyone else seeing!
Not always, but usually where there is a car chase, there is a car jump. The Gone in Sixty Seconds bridge jump is no exception. The film comes to a climax as Memphis Rains nears his delivery deadline. After being chased through town by Castlebeck and the LAPD, Memphis is confronted with what looks like a dead end. A car crash on the Vincent Thomas Bridge.
Memphis stops for a second to look for a way out. Memphis will do anything to save his baby brother. Ahead he spots a roll-back tow vehicle with the bed down. Perfect! A jump ramp. He jumps back into Eleanor to back up and prepare for jump. Castle Beck pulls up from behind thinking he's got his mouse. Memphis floors the GT 500 and bangs through the gears. The camera shows several angles, including a speedo shot approaching 100 mph. Memphis flys through the air and clears the crash scene while scraping the top of an ambulance. Memphis lands with a swerve or two. But he quickly gains control. How did they do it?
If I were Castlebeck, I would have given up at this point. Memphis seems to be nearly unstoppable. The jump is amazing. Granted there's a quite bit of movie magic going on. The whole jump staged in three pieces. But it's still some what believable (at heart). At least three Eleanors were used for this jump alone. Not to mention a Computer Generated Graphics (CGI) version as well. Two cars were completely destroyed. One was loss in the initial part of the jump on the ramp. The second was lost on a long jump during the landing. A third car was suspended by wires for the in-flight shots. The CGI car filled in the gaps. All of the stunts performed in the film were coordinated by Johnny Martin . Johnny also did stunt work in films Live Free Die Hard, The Italian Job, and The Matrix Reloaded.
Vincent Thomas Bridge - Scene Site
Even though the jump is some what fake. I totally enjoyed it. I think it deserves mention in our Famous Jumps section. It will live on in the hearts of movie car fans every where. Even if it's cheesy. I did find a great remake someone did in Grand Theif Auto IV on YouTube. Take a look at the clip below. Muztang2 did a great job of putting this together. By the way. A piece of trivia for ya. The Vincent Thomas Bridge was also used in the filming of the original Gone in Sixty Seconds. Your job is to find where and when in the film. Comment to us your best answer. Till next time. Keep your Mustangs on the ground! See ya next time at OnScreenCars.com
Not always, but in some cases where there are tv/movie cars, jumps are sure to follow. The Dukes of Hazzard show is no exception. We've decided to include a new segment on our blog about famous car jumps in tv and movies. We've entitled this feature "Famous Jumps." What better way to kick off this new series than the Dukes of Hazzard! Our first jump pays tribute to the famous flight of the General Lee, LEE 1. You may remember our "First Look" post on the General Lee, LEE 1. One of the first General Lees used in the production of the show.
This jump was made on November 11, 1978 on the college campus of Oxford College (now part of Emory University) in the town of Covington, GA. The building in the background this Seney Hall. If you look closely at the General Lee you can distinctly tell it's the LEE 1 by the chrome rocker panels. This is the only General Lee to have the chrome rockers. The same jump was part of the first episode and also part the show's opening credits.
The same jump was also repeated on the original site for the 2005 production of the Dukes of Hazzard movie. Near the end of the first clip you can see how that jump went. Could you imagine going to school there and getting to see it take place all over again? I would have skipped classes that day to see it! It's amazing how Hollywood does these jumps. It takes a team of skilled stunt people and engineers to pull this stuff off. But to you and I, it's looks like a bunch of rednecks just taking chances. Gotta love jumps! Be sure to jump in here another time for On Screen Cars!