Burt Reynolds, whose career began on television in the 1960’s and who would become one of the biggest box office attractions for five-years in a row sadly passed away on Thursday at the age of 82.
In 1972 John Boorman’s thriller “Deliverance,” cast Reynolds as ‘Lewis Medlock’ whose love of the outdoors would catapult Reynolds movie career. Reynolds would call “Deliverance,” his best film.
“I thought maybe this film is more important in a lot of ways than we’ve given it credit for. It was the only time I saw men get up, sick, and walk out of a theater. I’ve seen women do that before, but not men.” Referring to the movie’s rape scene that may have given the public a better understanding of the horrors of sexual assaults, including men.
The Longest Yard in 1974 would see Reynolds play an ex-football player Paul “Wrecking” Crewe who lands in prison and recruits a group of prisoners to play a game against the prison guards.
But it was his role as Bo Darville or “Bandit” in the 1977 movie “Smokey and the Bandit” that Reynolds would become best known for. “Sheriff Buford T. Justice” a Texas County Mounty played by Jackie Gleason was the Smokey who would chase Reynolds character across the south.
In 1997 Reynolds would play “Jack Horner” in the movie Boogie Nights. The role would earn Reynolds a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
Those are just some of the roles were all so familiar with, but what about the roles Reynolds didn’t take? Reynolds through out his career turned down some roles you might not be aware he was offered that turned out to be some of the biggest in the history of Hollywood.
Could you have seen Burt Reynolds as a suave British spy drinking martinis that were shaken not stirred? That’s right, Reynolds was offered the role of James Bond. Reynolds was also offered the role of “Han Solo” in George Lucas’s 1977 Star Wars. Can you imagine Reynolds giving up a speedy car to run blocker for the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy?
Reynolds was also one of Paramount’s top choices to play ‘Michael Corleone’ in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1972 “The Godfather.”
Sally Field who co-starred in four movies with Burt Reynolds and dated for five years released a statement on the passing of Reynolds, saying.
“There are times in your life that are so indelible, they never fade away, they stay alive, even 40 years later. My years with Burt never leave my mind. He will be in my history and my heart, for as long as I live. Rest, Buddy.”
When Burt Reynolds was at the height of his movie career in the 1970’s and early 80’s I was just a kid and not old enough to watch a lot them at the time, but as I grew older several of Reynolds movies have become some of my all time favorites.
The Longest Yard, Smokey and the Bandit, The Cannonball Run, Hooper, and Gator are just some of the movies that I’ve enjoyed and include as part of my own movie library.
The one movie that I obviously watch the most is ‘Smokey and the Bandit’. It’s my all time favorite and one of a handful of movies not named Star Wars that I can watch over and over again and never get tired of it. If Arnold Schwarzenegger was considered the action star of the 1980’s, Burt Reynolds was the King of the 1970’s.