Editor’s Update: We’ve recently learned this car-crashin’ classic will receive a hard media reissue via Dark Force Entertainment. Learn more with their January 2022 Facebook post.
While it’s not an official sequel, car aficionados and ’70s drive-in connoisseurs consider this rebel-rousing Smokey and the Bandit ripoff as a “sequel” to 1974’s Gone in 60 Seconds, as result of most of the cast and crew — Jack Vacek in particular, who serves as writer and director — from Gone appearing-working on this film; when Burt Reynolds broke box office records in his Pontiac Trans Am infomercial, this was re-released to drive-ins as Split-Second Smokey.
If you’re familiar with the plot and action of Gone in 60 Seconds, then you’re up to speed and ready to enjoy this loose hicksplotation entry in the drive-in derby. This time, instead of a professional car thief . . . Smokey is the bandit, aka car theif, as two highway patrolmen (Jack Vacek and Ed Abrams from Gone) who pick up extra cash repossessing cars . . . and come to realize they’re working for a car theft ring. They, of course, spring into action to break up the ring and stay out of the slammer.
Is it dumb and pointless? Yep. But it’s also a lot of fun and the amateur Vacek and Abrams actually make an affable screen duo and the comedy is well-written and executed. Vacek went on to work with H.B Halicki on his own follow ups to Gone: The Junkman and Deadline Auto Theft.
Vacek’s second and final film is the even more obscure and hard-to-find 1988 Dirty Harry knockoff Deadly Addiction (that made it onto home video as Rock House), starring Vacek and his wife, Trice Schubert, from Double Nickels.
To say this film has fans is an understatement. You can find a wealth of extended clips centered on the car chases and crashes — with at ’72 Plymouth Satellite and ’68 Chevy Chevelle going head-to-head, among others — as well as uploads of the film, on You Tube.
From the Phantom 309 files: In addition to the film trivia assist (see the comments, below) with Double Nickels, the Phantom schooled us on a Smokey Bites the Dust and Escape to Witch Mountain connection. No, really! Who knew?
About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.
Another Double Nickels actor who appeared in Gone In 60 Seconds was stuntdriver Butch Stockton. In the earlier movie he was the stakeout detective driving “One Baker Eleven” (the 1970 Mercury Montego). You’ll see him in Double Nickels as the Sheriff who chases the Norton motorbike in a 1972 Plymouth Satellite and crashes into a car moments after the chase is ordered to be called off.