WORLD PREMIERE @ SxSW 2016
DIRECTOR: Jesse Moss (The Overnighters, Speedo)
EDITOR: Aaron Wickenden, ACE
As the biggest star in the world, Burt Reynolds wanted the best stunt double in the world. This film tells the story of Burt Reynolds and his best friend, roommate, and stunt-double Hal Needham. Together they conquered the heights of Hollywood and made one of the most successful films of the 1970s, Smokey and the Bandit. But beneath the swaggering machismo, mustache, and hair-raising stunts is a more complex story.
Featuring Burt Reynolds himself, and extraordinary archive material, including photographs, scrapbooks and footage drawn from Burt’s personal archive, as well as candid interviews with Hal Needham, and other close friends and key players, the film offers a kaleidoscopic perspective on their relationship, and tells an exhilarating and moving story about loyalty, friendship and creative risk.
"A sentimental bromance between lifelong scoundrel Reynolds and borderline maniac Needham. The Bandit is an intimate portrait of two good old boys, one badass automobile, and a $4.3 million-budgeted dark horse that ended up netting $300 million and counting. Now that’s some serious banditry right there." - Austin Chronicle
"Like a bootlegging run with the Bandit himself, The Bandit at times can be an exhilarating ride down a well-worn country road in your dad's old sports car he only takes out on special occasions these days: you've done it a million times, sure, but there's always a smile on your face when it's over." - KEYE TV
"Tough guy jock cowboys aren’t generally my speed. But there’s a purity to Needham’s underdog story of farmer to stuntman to top-grossing Hollywood director which, when edited together with superstar Reynolds’ ongoing struggles to be perceived as a legitimate actor, makes for hugely compelling documentary cinema. Visually dynamic, brimming with a machismo that’s somehow never off putting or patronising, and affirming the values of loyalty, friendship, and the quiet contributions of stunt people in Hollywood, The Bandit was among the very best screening experiences of SXSW 2016." - Cinapse
"Crashing cars, Southern babes, country roads, and Burt Reynolds in his iconic prime. Filmmaker Jesse Moss is on a lark after his depressing documentary masterpiece, The Overnighters. And a shout-out to editor Aaron Wickenden for figuring out how to piece together Smoky movie scenes, vintage interviews with the late Needham, and all varieties of video memorabilia stored in Reynolds’s Florida home." - The Arts Fuse
"With The Bandit, director Jesse Moss follows up his brilliant and weighty documentary The Overnighters with something a little lighter, but no less brilliant. We learn that Burt, who thought actors were "candy asses," really wanted to be Hal, and that Hal, who craved stardom and respect, wanted to be Burt, but neither man was as good as they were together." - Birth. Movies. Death.
"Even those who remain immune to the yee-haw appeal of the earlier film — which, it should be noted, still commands a loyal following of repeat viewers on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line — may be drawn to this gently probing documentary. The Bandit is so craftily constructed that, whatever your feelings about Reynolds’ trademark turn as the wisecracking showoff who keeps his pedal to the metal in his Trans-Am, you likely will find yourself appreciating the actor’s self-deprecating humor, and might even be tempted to take another (or a first) look at Smokey and the Bandit." - VARIETY
"It packs a meaty double whammy for anyone interested in mainstream Hollywood in the 1970s and 1980s." - Screen Daily