The cinema world lost a legend last month when Burt Reynolds passed on to that great soundstage in the sky. The ubiquitous star of so many popular films during the 70s and 80s, it was always a shock to me as a kid when I would watch a movie that he didn’t appear in. The cool cars, hats, mustaches and the end-credit blooper reel almost guaranteed a good time would be had even if the script was sub-par. Here’s a couple or three of his best-loved movies.
Smokey And The Bandit (1977)
Starring Reynolds with partner in crime Jerry Reed as renegade freighters of bootleg beer from Texarkana to Atlanta. Along for the ride is Jackie Gleason as “Smokey” in hot pursuit and attempting to arrest Bandit for speeding, burn-outs and amazing stunt-jumps all designed to divert attention from the illegal cargo they are transporting. It may seem like just another hare-brained high-jinks movie, but “The Bandit” was a small budget filmed that has grossed over $300 million spawning spoofs, imitators, toys, lunch boxes and of course two crummy sequels.
Cannonball Run (1981)
Directed by former stunt-man Hal Needham, this goofball comedy film features just about every celebrity at the time - from Dom DeLuise to Burt Convy to a young Jackie Chan. It’s another high speed chase movie in the vein of the Bandit franchise but the comedy and slapstick has been taken to the extreme. It was essentially an opportunity to get a bunch of stars of the past 25 years in front of the camera and have fun. Yes, there was also a not-so-great sequel made.
This weirdly dark film about four men canoeing down a river in Georgia is considered by some critics as one of the best films of 1972. Featuring crazy stunts and an infamous banjo soundtrack. Ned Beatty and John Voight also star.