For us growing up in the 70’s and the 80’s, Burt Reynolds was an absolute icon. He was everywhere, every talk show, every magazine, and always seemed to have a movie out. I can’t imagine what kind of life he would have had in the social media age. By the time I was old enough to watch his films he was already a superstar. I saw Deliverance for the first time far into adulthood. He was completely different than the films I had previously seen him in. He was so good. I will also admit I have never seen the Smokey and The Bandit films and probably should. It always bummed me out that his career seemed to go off a cliff until his huge comeback in Boogie Nights. I know he had a TV career too, Evening Shade, Gunsmoke, Dan August, etc…I heard his most recent film The Last Movie Star was good and had wanted to check it out. The last thing I saw him in was an episode of King of Queens and he still had his star charm. His film choices weren’t always good and the man himself may have been flawed but he was a star. Here are three of my favorite performances.
The Longest Yard (1974)
Burt was a former athlete so it’s fitting that he is fantastic in The Longest Yard. It’s miles ahead of the Adam Sandler remake. The cast is incredible including Richard “Jaws” Kiel.
Sharkey’s Machine (1981)
Burt is a narcotics cop in probably his most violent film. This film is a forgotten gem but it’s a great 80’s action film. Burt also directed.
MG: Bonus tidbit: If I’m not mistaken, this film held the record for longest stunt fall in a film.
The Cannonball Run I and II (1981,1984)
I know these films aren’t cinematic masterpieces but I saw both in the theater with my father and we thought they were a riot. Burt and Dom Deluise working together was comedy magic including their outtakes. An honorable mention for their pairing is the black comedy The End which is probably a better film.
MG: Nice write-up again DJ. You have a knack for writing these. I can’t say I was ever a big Burt Reynolds fan, although I was well aware of his stardom throughout my childhood. He was huge tabloid fodder, but he never seemed to mind it. When I finally did get around to watching Deliverance, his performance was a revelation. It was in such contrast to the goofy, mustache-sporting persona I was used to. His intensity in that film, and his younger looks sans facial hair, reminded me of a young Brando.