The world lost a cinematic legend on September 6, 2018. I was in California when a friend called and told me the news about Burt Reynolds’ passing at the age of 82. “Smokey and the Bandit” is a staple of classic cinema in the South, an area that loves racing, drinking beer and the occupation of driving semis. My first introduction with Burt was in middle school when I watched a double feature of “Days of Thunder” and “Smokey and the Bandit”. The latter was a film that was on constant rotation throughout college, every road trip playlist included “East Bound and Down”. It was just last year I went with some friends to see to “Smokey and the Bandit” for its 40th anniversary, a nearly sold out theater for a Sunday afternoon showing. The Alamo Drafthouse had a special screening on September 16th in honor of Mr. Reynolds. Even though Hurricane Florence was pouring heavy rain around the area, the screening was sold out, a testament to the love of Reynolds.
Mr. Reynolds’ filmography is something I have neglected for years, with a lot of his major work, the work that started his career such as “White Lightning”, “Deliverance” and “The Longest Yard” always on the peripheral of films to watch. I’ve caught up on that deficit in my cinema shame over the past few weeks, watching some of those classics and even some of his more recent work. I knocked off “Deliverance”, “White Lightning”, “The Longest Yard”, “Cannonball Run”, and a release from last year “The Last Movie Star”. Each one having various aspects of quality, but the one constant is Burt’s magical charm shining through, even in “The Last Movie Star” that beautiful smile is still there.
I think the best way to celebrate Burt’s life is to share his work with others. I’m hoping my discussion of his work can maybe persuade to watch his work. I know James Patrick is working on an episode discussing Reynolds and I cannot wait for it to be online. If you haven’t had a chance to read his obituary in The New York Times: (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/06/obituaries/burt-reynolds-dead.html) I highly recommend taking the time to read it. It is elegantly written, presenting the whole picture of Burt; the positives and negatives, the lows and highs.
If you have the chance please join us and share your thoughts on Burt Reynolds and raise a Coors to toast the legend.