Following the success of Smokey And The Bandit (1977), Burt Reynolds was, for a short time, the world’s leading box-office star. Here he once again partenered with stuntman-turned-director Hal Needham.
Sonny Hooper (Reynolds) is a middle-aged devil-may-care Hollywood stuntman who leads a freewheeling lifestyle with his girlfriend Gwen (Sally Field) and her father Jocko (Brian Keith), who was himself once a leading stuntman.
Sonny feels the heat when a young new hotshot stuntman named Ski (Jan Michael Vincent) appears on the scene and threatens to take his mantle. Sonny decides to pull off one final stunt so dangerous and outrageous that it will cement his place in legend.
Film-maker Roger Deal (Robert Klein) – who is making a James Bond-style adventure movie – offers Sonny just the stunt he is looking for – performing a record-breaking 325-foot leap across a collapsed bridge in a jet-fuelled sports car.
Sonny and Ski agree to do the jump together, even though everyone urges them to turn it down as the odds of performing it successfully seem almost impossible.
There’s not much of a story but just enough to get by.
Doubling for Burt Reynolds, stuntmaster A J Bakunas set a new world record for the highest jump without a parachute by throwing himself out of a helicopter onto an airbag 232 feet below. The following year, A J tried to go one better by leaping off a 300-foot construction site for 1979’s Steel.
The jump went fine, but the airbag split on impact, killing him instantly as his father looked on.
Delmore ‘Ski’ Shidski
Don ‘Red’ Barry
Laura Lizer Sommers