“The Bandit” tells the Story of 70s superstar Burt Reynolds and his Stunt-Double Hal Needham

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29 July 2016
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The Bandit
Courtesy of CMT
"The Bandit"
Premieres Saturday, August 6 at 10 PM ET/PT on CMT
 
          “The Bandit,” is an original documentary about 70s superstar Burt Reynolds, his best friend, roommate and stunt-double Hal Needham, and the making of their unlikely smash hit “Smokey & The Bandit.” The film tells the action-packed story of the making of the iconic film, while tracing the vivid personal journeys of Reynolds and Needham from obscurity to stardom and highlighting one of the most extraordinary relationships in Hollywood history. Featuring new interviews with Reynolds, rare archive material, including footage from Reynold’s personal archive, as well as candid interviews with the late Hal Needham, the documentary tells an exhilarating and moving story about loyalty, friendship and creative risk.

          In the 1970s Burt Reynolds was one of American’s biggest movie stars. He lit up the decade like a comet, from his breakout dramatic role in “Deliverance” (1972) through a string of Good Ol’ Boy pictures, and the box office smash hit “Smokey and the Bandit,” (1977) which became one of the most successful films of the decade.  But beneath the swaggering machismo, mustache, and hair-raising stunts is a more complex story told in this feature-length documentary.

 

          Reynolds admired Needham and was drawn to the close-knit community of stuntmen that gathered around him. As one friend describes it, “Burt wanted to be doing what Hal was doing.' Needham hungered for stardom in his own right, but lived in Reynolds’ shadow. In 1976, Needham approached Reynolds with a script he’d written, “Smokey and The Bandit.” A modern moonshine picture about smuggling Coors beer across state-lines, it was admittedly poorly written. Burt was conflicted.  After appearing in a string of similar pictures, he hungered for more serious dramatic roles, but he was intensely loyal to his friend. His decision to act in his best friend’s film not only changed both of their lives forever, but created a legendary character and a movie that is still revered today, forty years later.

         Featuring new interviews with Reynolds, rare and never-before-seen archive material, including photographs, and footage from Reynolds’ personal archive, as well as candid interviews with the late Hal Needham, and other close friends and key players, the documentary offers a kaleidoscopic perspective on their relationship, and tells an exhilarating and moving story about loyalty, friendship and creative risk.


 
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