Looking back at the iconic Burt Reynolds in just a few of his comic and celebrated roles…
Remembering this charismatic actor in his defining roles as a sex symbol, centre-fold, action man and acting legend.
I was saddened to hear of the passing of the wonderful Burt Reynolds. A charming actor who lit up the screen in so many fantastic films and television shows. With much of his prolific acting career in the seventies and early eighties, he was one of the few non-Dallas stars I knew by name as a kid.
I watched many of his road trip films where Reynolds played one of his more celebrated characters such as The Cannonball Run (1981) and his first Smokey and the Bandit (1977) movie. These were both charismatic characters that I imagine weren’t that far from Reynolds own personality.
Reynolds was always remembered in movies with his moustache and that deep manly voice. For me, his moustache was remembered as quintessentially Reynolds in his on-screen appearances. His moustache – to me – meant Burt Reynolds didn’t really feel like Burt Reynolds without it.
I remember seeing him in a film without it once – possibly Deliverance (1972) – and I couldn’t get my head around this clean-shaven actor being the same man. Probably due to kiddy logic. Anyway here’s 5 of my magical memories of Reynolds, but of course there are so many more… and before you complain bitterly about the absence of The Cannonball Run, here it is… CLICK HERE.
Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982)
The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas Official Trailer #1 – Burt Reynolds Movie (1982), Movieclips Classic Trailers
In this musical comedy, Reynolds starred with Dolly Parton, an actress who always appears as genial and delightfully likeable as himself. So with this pairing, there was inevitably on-screen chemistry of one of the best kinds.
With Reynolds playing Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd and Dolly playing the local madam, Miss Mona Standing of the local brothel (named Chicken Ranch). Dodd turns a blind eye to her business, with the pair also lovers on the side. However, a goody goody TV presenter finds out about this illegal Texan whorehouse and declares it (in a song) and on television…
This a film version of the Broadway hit with the film famous for Reynolds singing a duet with Dolly, a Country and Western singer. Surprisingly in the same decade that brought you Fame (1982), it was the biggest box-office draw for a musical in the Eighties. The film also starring his Cannonball Run and Silent Movie friend Dom DeLuise, Charles Durning (who was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar) and Barry Corbin.
Songs included two from the pen of Parton. Her song Sneakin Around was one which she sang with Reynolds in the film. The other with a more touching and romantic version of her 1973 song, I Will Always Love You. This another soundtrack favourite when later covered by Whitney Houston in The Bodyguard (1992). I was amused to learn, that this film was seized by a certain branch of English police on its release on video, with the police believing it to be a video nasty.
Smokey and the Bandit (1977)
Smokey and the Bandit Official Trailer #1 – Burt Reynolds Movie (1977), Movieclips Classic Trailers
This road trip action comedy included Reynolds as the Bandit. With the Bandit, just one of those many characters Reynolds is always synonymous with. This time romantically paired with Sally Field. The film also starred Jackie Gleason and Jerry Reed.
The film is about a father and son looking for a trucker to transport a lorry load of beer illegally (as was the case back then). With the journey from Texas to Atlanta, and to be completed in 28 hours and by avoiding the police, highway patrollers and sheriffs along the way. (These men of the law the Smokey in the title).
So who better than good ol’ Reynolds as a legendary trucker Bo “Bandit” Darville to do the job. With the Bandit recruiting his buddy, Cledus “Snowman” Snow to help him. En route, the Bandit picks up a runaway bride Carrie (Sally Field), a woman whose jilted fiance pursues them, with his daddy in tow.
Daddy happens to be a Texan Sheriff. Carrie and the Bandit have great romantic chemistry from the start with him even calling her “Frog” because she is “kinda cute like a frog” (aw), she is “always hoppin’ around”. Cue mayhem and fun.
The film spawned two more feature films – with the first of these, Smokey and the Bandit II (1980) also starring Reynolds and Field – and then a number of TV Movies. Reportedly much of the film’s dialogue was improvised and the movie’s explicit language was cut out when it was shown by certain British TV Channels. This film was also immortalised by Archer.
Silent Movie (1976)
Burt Reynolds, LittleSkullKid
This one of my favourite of Burt’s wee cameo roles playing himself, in this Mel Brooks movie. Silent Movie is about a director and his friends hoping to make a silent movie. And with a twist this a film without dialogue, apart from one line!
I’m not going to say from which actor from just to add to the suspense should you watch it. Reynolds starred with his oft acting partner Dom DeLuise. This time alongside Bernadette Peters, Marty Feldman and Mel Brooks himself.
In his scenes, the men want Burt Reynolds to join the cast of their film. Here Brooks and his buddies spot Burt’s house, and it’s easily recognisable with the giant portrait of Reynolds outside and his full name in huge lettering. Inside there are mirrors lining the staircase.
When they visit him, the actor is taking a shower and gazing at himself in a mirror as he washes. So the guys give him a hand. Despite this first unsuccessful visit, the friends are not deterred and revisit Reynolds. With better luck. This one of many films Reynolds starred in about making movies.
Archer meets Burt Reynolds, Qutmaster
In a more recent role again as himself, Reynolds stole Archer’s thunder in this pop cultured laden adult animation. A series where there’s been more than a few Burt Reynolds references. However, in his personal (cartoon) appearance, Reynolds voiced himself in an episode called The Man from Jupiter.
In this episode, after unsuccessfully chatting up a girl, super-spy Archer meets Burt Reynolds, his Hollywood idol at a bar. So after Archer extols his favourite films to Reynolds, Archer discovers that Burt Reynolds is dating Archer’s mother and boss, Mallory.
So Archer kidnaps Reynolds and then tries to break them up. This by writing a breakup letter where he writes it himself pretending to be “Burt” from “Tinseltown” and that he’s left her for a younger woman. But with some Cuban hitmen after Archer this all inevitably leading to more random Archer-style complications.
Reynolds helped co-write this episode and its a wonderful comic tribute to him and his career. It was wonderful hearing Reynolds with that deep masterful voice of his in this series. The episode was lovingly co-written by the show’s creator, Adam Reed.
Reed is a huge fan of Burt Reynolds films and this seen in this great episode. With Archer reporting how inspirational Reynolds is to his choice of career. Also included are more than a few fun sexual references from all Archers co- characters about Reynolds relationship with Mallory.
In another episode – and related to a running gag – the super-spy is looking for his father, with Reynolds one of the possible men. With Archer hoping it will be his idol, and an actor whose style he copied on many occasions during the series. For example on one Archer demands a Trans-am and a moustache.
In other wee remembrances, Reynolds as the sex symbol of the 70s Reynolds stripped off for a certain women’s publication posing on a rug. The actor was also mentioned in The Fall Guy (1981- 86) theme song and made appearances as himself in the series, Robot Chicken (1985). Reynolds also made a huge impact in the late 1990s with Striptease (1996) and in Boogie Nights (2005).
Films he could have acted in included Terms of Endearment (1983) in Nicholson’s role and Soapdish (1991) in Kevin Kline’s part. Reynolds also famously turned down the role of James Bond. As for me, I’ll always recall Burt Reynolds as he stole the scenes as the Bandit, drove the extra mile in the Cannonball Run and hit the target in Archer. In all his roles, I’ll remember this actor from Jupiter – and later from Tinseltown – both with and without that trademark ‘tache.’
Box Office Jocks Blogathon 2019,No 6
This post was added to For Dubsism and Return to the 80s Box Office Jocks Blogathon. Other posts with these casts include Burt Reynolds in posts on The Cannonball Run HERE and HERE. Sally Field also starred in Beyond the Poseidon Adventure and Surrender. Marty Feldman in Yellowbeard. Bernadette Peters in Pennies from Heaven. Judy Greer from Californication and Bryan Cranston in Rock of Ages. Charles Durning stars in Tootsie.