Around 1983, Universal Pictures ordered a third installment in the popular Smokey and the Bandit car chase franchise. However, two of the principal stars of the film, Burt Reynolds and Sally Field declined to participate due to a contract dispute. Although co-star Jackie Gleason was still committed to the project, so the screenwriters tried a new approach, they would feature Gleason in a dual role, not only reprising his role of the loud, dimwitted Sherriff Buford T. Justice, but also taking on Reynolds role of the Bandit as well. So, shooting commenced under the title Smokey is the Bandit Part 3. Except that after the film was completed with this premise and shown to test audiences, it was reported that they were confused by the concept. So additional footage was shot with Jerry Reed's character Cledus filling in as the new Bandit, with Reynolds returning for a short cameo at the end.
The film's original premise circulated for years as part of Hollywood lore and was believed by many to simply be a myth. However, in 2010 a teaser trailer surfaced on YouTube for the original premise with the original title. Afterwards, a photo of Gleason in the Bandit costume found its way online. As of yet, the original alternate footage has never been seen by the public.
An online petition has been set-up to try and convince Universal Pictures to release the original version of the film.
- ↑ Online petition to have the original version of the film released. Retrieved 28 Jan '13.