JOKEY & THE BANDIT: Some say Joker’s hat and orange shirt are Nicholson’s nod to Burt


Unless you were at least in your preteen double digits and living in America circa 1977, it’s probably going to be difficult to wrap your mind around just how big of a movie star Burt Reynolds was at the time.

When SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT hit theaters that year, Burt’s career catapulted into the stratosphere. As the Bandit, Burt plays straight man to Jackie Gleason’s unhinged gusto as Sheriff Buford T. Justice. While Gleason gives a comedic scorched earth performance, Reynolds maximizes his natural good ol’ boy charm to hold down his end of the picture. The fact he does it while spending 80% of his screen time on the lamb behind the wheel of a Trans Am is nothing short of brilliant.

A key to Burt’s success was his laugh. laugh. It’s a rallying call that says friends, rednecks, and hillbillies to lend their beers! Some say Burt’s bray can summon a Yeti. Others swear it cures hangovers.

This Is How We Meet The Bandit (Burt Reynolds) in SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT

Basically, what laughing is to Burt Reynolds, smirking is to Bruce Willis. Except Burt being the more judicious of the two. He’s never been an entire movie laughing his ass off. Bruce Willis however smirks off through every frame of HUDSON HAWK.

Just how iconic was Burt’s laugh? Let’s put it this way: can you name another actor ever to have their signature trait customized into the opening logo of a major movie making studio… say like Universal Pictures?

The Universal Pictures opening logo featuring the most famous laugh in the history of movies. Ever.

Even when Reynolds wasn’t doing another Smokey and the Bandit for Universal, his trademark laugh went with him. When he did CANNONBALL RUN with 20th Century Fox, the studio also customized their opening logo with Burt’s laugh. Reynolds is the only actor to ever to accomplish this. That’s how iconic his laugh is.

The Burt Reynolds laugh was so iconic, not one, but TWO movie studios customized their logos with it

So when the word began to circulate Tim Burton was making BATMAN for the big screen, all eyes were on Burton’s casting choices. The mop topped director had already gotten a taste of fan backlash over signing Michael Keaton as Gotham City’s Dark Knight. What Burton needed next was a slam dunk for arguably the most popular comic book villain in super hero history.


“Wait until they get a load of me…” [INSERT BURT REYNOLDS LAUGH]

Who better to play Batman’s arch nemesis known for his maliciously merry laughter than the actor known worldwide for his iconic laugh? For Reynolds, it was the lifeline needed to rescue him from Movie Star Jail after three strikes at the box office. On paper the match-up between actor and role had to be a total no brainer for both Burt and Burton. What could go wrong?

In short, just about everything. The whole debacle was kept from the public in order to avoid any negativity surrounding the movie. While Burt’s early departure was chalked up to the ever reliable “creative differences” an inside source gave Tinseltown Takedown word on some of the deal breaking demands made by Reynolds.

  1. Citing Cesar Romero’s Joker from the television series, Burt refused to shave his mustache.
  2. He wanted pal Jerry Reed to replace Prince for the movie’s theme song.
  3. Joker should drive a tricked out Trans Am.
  4. Burt felt the movie needed more villains by suggesting Jerry Reed as Mr. Freeze, Dom Deluise as Bane and Sally Field as Catwoman.

By now we all know how it ended. Burt got the boot. Jack got the act. The rest, as they say, is… something something.

Yet the story doesn’t end there, true readers. Thanks to some sketchy connections and a season pass to Jimmy’s Shimmy Shake Gentleman’s Club feast your peepers on this TINSELTOWN TAKEDOWN EXCLUSIVE: the only footage shot of Burt Reynolds as Joker.

Is it legit, you ask? What are you some kind a narc?

A Tinseltown Takedown EXCLUSIVE: Burt Reynolds going full Joker in Tim Burton’s BATMAN

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