Burt Reynolds (1936-2018)
“My movies were the kind they show in prisons and airplanes, because nobody can leave.”
It’s not too often we here on the site lament the loss of a legend. Sure, we lost David Bowie, Christopher Lee, Gene Wilder, Carrie Fisher and Robert Z’Dar all within the last few years but Burt was one of the last late great bona fide movie legends. To me, he’s up there with Bogart, Brando, and Newman. He had a reputation and class all his own with machismo, charm and humor. He could be sauve but also at times, a redneck idiot. And he was probably all fine with that. He was one of the rare entertainers that could easily be self-deprecating. That was part of his charm!
Growing up in the 80s, Burt was already one of those big name stars that anyone at any age could enjoy. His movies didn’t have a demographic. And I, like most kids weren’t watching Pacino and DeNiro flicks back then. When we weren’t pretending to be Luke Skywalker we were pretending to be The Bandit. His movies weren’t kid-friendly per se, but they were apple pie, Americana family-friendly anyway. I mean, who else can make a movie with the word “Whorehouse” in the title and make it (somewhat) family-friendly? Funny thing is, I’m looking back at his filmography and he wasn’t in a lot of great movies really. But that’s the thing—he was such a star that the quality of his movies didn’t much matter. In today’s day and age, that’s unheard of. Except for maybe Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
And who didn’t want to hang out with Burt, on screen or off? He looked like he was one awesome companion to drink with, play football or just pal around with. Well maybe not canoeing down a river. And that laugh! He had one of the most memorable and infectious chuckles ever in recorded history. Second only to Richard Dreyfuss’ laugh.
It was a shame that his career careened off in his later years though. I was always hoping that his academy-award nominated role in Boogie Nights would’ve given his career a second-wind, but he ended up just making mediocre or downright awful flicks. Which is heartbreaking considering how great he was in the 70s and 80s. But while his death is of course sad, we can’t say that he didn’t have a great and fulfilling life.
Before I get to the greatest scenes and clips, I wanted to point out a weird coincidence regarding Burt. A few weeks back the Cartoon Network Adult Swim show, The Venture Brothers had their premiere that brought back a recurring gag regarding Sharky’s Machine and the song Street Life by The Crusaders. Since it was a recurring gag about the movie and song, me and Jim were having a laugh about it. It’s a great tune and movie—check them both out. Strangely enough, this past week’s Better Call Saul’s “Quite a Ride” episode had a montage also featuring Street Life. That episode aired Monday and Burt passed away Thursday. So from now on, Street Life will contend with “East Bound and Down” with Burt’s memory.