Friday, September 7, 2018

Rambling thoughts on Burt Reynolds

I do a piece on Burt's serious films and I post a silly picture- why doesn't that surprise me?
Probably the best thing and the worst thing that ever happened to Burt Reynolds was the success of SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT. The good ol’boy mega hit that kind of rivaled STAR WARS for box office supremacy for a while both cemented him as a box office champ, but also as a smiling nice guy who was a kind of a goof ball. Never mind that he played tough gritty characters in films like DELIVERANCE (which many people have argued correctly should have gotten him at the very least an Oscar nomination) , after SMOKEY he was never going to really be allowed to be the great actor that he really was. (And the CANNONBALL RUN movies ultimately sealed the deal).

To be certain Reynolds was a great comedic actor. His smile allowed him to get away with murder , but it was his dark intensity, often hiding behind the smile that made me love him. When I was growing up Reynolds was an action star. He was so big that he seriously being considered for James Bond. It was his action and darker films that made me love him.

Yes there is DELIVERENCE but there was also:

THE LONGEST YARD which mixed hard action with humor and is a classic (I think I broke his freaking neck)

WHITE LIGHTNING AND GATOR  were the two intense action films where I first noticed him

LUCKY LADY the comedy drama about bootlegging that was light until it wasn’t

NICKELODEON is an under-appreciated charmer about the early days of the movies

FUZZ and SHAMUS two detective films that worked to various degrees

SHARKY'S MACHINE an ugly raw action film that tried to do for action films what the CANNONBALL RUN films did for comedy.

And his late 80’s attempts at being grittier to off-set all the lighter TV roles which kind of worked and kind of didn’t

And the serious comedies:

And we have the late career small films like BOOGIE NIGHTS (his only Oscar nomination) and the recent LAST MOVIE STAR where he worked with filmmakers who knew how fucking awesome he could be and let him show it- even though most of them seemed to get lost.

(And this is without even going into his serious TV work like Gunsmoke, Hawk and Twilight Zone.)

The most amazing thing is that is only the tip of the iceberg- he made so many films and TV shows- most of them enjoyable if not great it’s a sin that Hollywood never took him as seriously as they should have.

I love Burt.

What are my favorite films?

THE LONGEST YARD, the GATOR films,  SHARKY’s MACHINE, SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT. I have a nostalgic fondness for LUCKY LADY because it was in heavy cable rotation growing up.

And I absolutely love ROUGHCUT the caper film set in England which is just a delight on any number of levels

He will be missed.

Mr Burt it has been a pleasure. Thank you for the smile and thrills.

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