The Downside of Loyalty

The once-legendary Burt Reynolds, 80, is being honored tonight at the Key West Film Festival. A 6pm screening of Jesse Moss‘s Bandit, a tribute doc about the relationship between Reynolds and director Hal Needham, will kick things off, followed by a q & a between Reynolds and Moss, and then a reception at the Truman Little White House.

From my 8.6.16 piece titled “I Love Ya, Buddy — Now Kill My Career”: “Reynolds’ Achilles heel was his loyalty to Needham, a pal since the ’50s and a one-time roommate. His decision to star in a string of atrocious (if financially bountiful) Needham-directed drive-in flicks from the mid ’70s to mid ’80s cast a shitkicker pall over Reynolds’ image. It wasn’t all Needham’s fault, granted, but by ’85 or ’86 Reynolds’ heyday had come to an end.”

Reynolds’ heyday lasted for about 12 years, or from Deliverance (’72) to Cannonball Run II (’84). Between that high and low point he can be proud of his performance in the following: (1) Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (’72). (2) The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing, (3) The Longest Yard, (4) At Long Last Love, (5) Hustle, (6) Nickelodeon, (7) Smokey and the Bandit, (8) Semi-Tough, (9) The End, (10) Hooper, (11) Starting Over, (12) Sharky’s Machine, (13) The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, (14) Best Friends and The Man Who Loved Women.

  • TheHey

    No love for Lucky Lady?

    • Yeecchhh! Have you ever watched it?

      • TheHey

        Actually not since childhood although I remember enjoying it but I’m sure if I saw it again I would gag especially knowing now that Willard Huyck & Gloria Katz “wrote” the screenplay.

  • blake011

    Its still kind of too bad that one of the best films he was ever in, Boogie Nights, he hates.

  • Stewart Klein

    How can one stop being legendary? Once one becomes legendary that’s generally it. right? unless you’re Bill Cosby and then you become legendary for something else.

    • He’s a memory now. The brand lapsed 30 years ago.

      • Stewart Klein

        I don’t think anyone who sees Deliverance will ever think so.

  • kevin stewart

    I wonder what goes through Burt’s mind when he thinks about Jack Nicholson. He turned down CUCKOO’S NEST and Jack won the Oscar, he turned down TERMS OF ENDEARMENT and Jack won the Oscar, and the year he lost Supporting Actor, guess who won Best Actor later that night.

    • Dr. Bob

      Burt would not have won the Oscar. Jack is on another plane so there is no point in playing what-ifs.

    • YCo

      Nicholson was iconic, but I think Burt would have been great in his own way..

  • brenkilco

    The good ole boy persona he loved so much really predates Needham. (White lightening, Gator). And even at his height, his track record was spotty. Cat Dancing, Long Last Love, Nicholodeon, Hustle and Semi Tough all bombs. And he was trying hard in most of them. He was serious and vulnerable and low key in starting over. And boy did nobody care. Only the smirk seemed to work. And when he finally made the cover of Time Magazine, alongside the infinitely more durable Clint Eastwood, he was “Good Ole Burt”

    You left out Shamus. A good natured, convoluted Chandler knockoff with Reynolds as a private eye. Caught it as a kid and still love it. But I may be the only one.

  • Hud+Homer+Alma+Lonnie

    THE END is pretty cute as death-comedies go, as I remember it.

    (IMDB browse… )

    Don’t remember all these notable supporting actors in there… Myrna Loy! Carl Reiner, Robby Benson, Norman Fell, Pat O’Brian, Kristy McNicol, Joanne Woodward, Strother Martin, David Steinberg…

    • Raygo

      I recall that THE END was supposed to be a career defining moment for Reynolds, and the supporting cast was hailed as proof that Burt was an actor. It didn’t really pan out that way, but it’s an interesting misfire.

  • YCo

    I was watching Sharkey’s Machine last week. I remember it fondly from my childhood and the days of early cable TV and I must have seen it a dozen times throughout the years. But something struck me this time.. I was watching that scene where Burt is slapping the crap out of Rachel Ward because she won’t spill info on her pimp, and in the next scene, she’s gazing at him forelornly and longingly. WTF!
    For the life of me I didn’t remember that scene like that. I don’t remember it at all. For the first time, it startled me as a female. I don’t remember having that reaction before and violence against women was not something I normalized, not ever. And yet, watching it last week, it was distasteful to me. What does that say about our changing attitudes toward violence in film? Anyway, that was a random epiphany I had last week and was just waiting for the opportunity to share it..
    And yet, I still love Burt.

    • Terry McCarty

      Nowadays, the scene of Burt staring at an unconscious Loni Anderson in STROKER ACE is a bit unsettling.