All hail the late, once-great Burt Reynolds, who passed this morning at age 82. Reynolds enjoyed a 13-year run at the top from ’72 to ’84 or thereabouts, and kept plugging away over the next 34 years (and who tasted a brief comeback after his porn-producer performance in Paul Thomas Anderson‘s Boogie Nights). But now he’s gone, a physical being no more, floating in the clouds…a spirit flooring a ghostly Trans Am through the bayou with a wailing bubble-gum police car chasing his ass.
Deliverance, Shamus, The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing, The Longest Yard, At Long Last Love, Hustle, Gator, Nickelodeon, Semi-Tough, Smokey and the Bandit, The End, Hooper, Starting Over, Rough Cut, The Cannonball Run, Paternity, Sharky’s Machine, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Best Friends, The Man Who Loved Women and Boogie Nights.
“Another Reynolds Assessment,” posted on 3.26.18: “‘Be kind’ means you can lightly allude to Reynolds having messed up his acting career by making one arrogant, bone-headed move after another after another, etc. Those fast-car movies. Blowing his post-Boogie Nights momentum. Getting bad plastic surgery, wearing those terrible rugs. But you can’t actually mention it.
Posted on 8.4.14: “Reynolds initiated his demise by making all those stupid shitkicker paycheck movies with the yokelish Hal Needham. Reynolds had a pretty good run at the top (’72 to ’84), and then he was done.
“Reynolds-the-actor (as opposed to Reynolds-the-box-office-attraction) was great in Deliverance, half-good in Shamus, The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing, At Long Last Love, regrettable in Lucky Lady and Hustle, good in Semi-Tough, very good in Starting Over, good in Sharky’s Machine and Best Friends, decent in The Man Who Loved Women…and that was it until he played an older thief in Bill Forsyth‘s Breaking In (’89). And then nothing came of that. And then along came Paul Thomas Anderson‘s Boogie Nights (’97) and Reynolds called it shit and fired his agent, etc.
Good old Burt. His usual, familiar smoothie self — cool and collected, deadpan humor, mellow vibe. But with a beard and tinted shades. The audience was laughing, applauding, in love. Burt’s legs are on the frail, shaky side but he walked out without a cane — good fellow. Here’s an mp3 of the whole thing. The interviewer was Rolling Stone critic David Fear.
A longtime resident of Jupiter, Florida, Reynolds teaches an acting class every Friday, he said, for students ranging “from ages 18 to 88.” He’s recently acted in a couple of smallish films (I didn’t write the titles down but he described one as kid-friendly with a feel-good vibe) and he’s got another couple of roles coming up.
I was sitting in the front row and raised my hand right away when Fear asked for questions. HE: “If you could do it over again would you still turn down Jack Nicholson‘s role in Terms of Endearment (’83)?” Reynolds: “I’ve done a lot of dumb things in my time, but that was one of the dumbest…no, I’d do it.” He actually may not have said the word “dumbest” (I haven’t transcribed the recording) but the thrust of his response was basically “yeah, I fucked up.”
After the half-hour chat ended Reynolds stood up, leaned over and began speaking to a good-looking little blonde boy (maybe six years old) who was sitting with his family in the second row. “Wow, you’re really gorgeous,” Reynold said, and then cautioned the kid to be careful and use his head. It’s a good thing David Ehrlich wasn’t there. He would have been enormously upset by this, a reminder that sometimes attractiveness really does help in certain ways.
Again, the mp3.