Here at CHARGE!, we take our hat off for one thing, and one thing only… Okay, we may not be as smooth as the Bandit, so we actually take our hat off for Burt Reynolds marathons, just like the one airing here on the network this Father’s Day. What a better way to spend a Sunday, than BBQing and partaking in some of the deeper Reynolds cuts. As a primer for the marathon, let’s explore the man, the myth: the Reynolds.
There are few people in the world that can conjure the same mystique that Reynolds’ reputation seems to carry. In fact, short of Bill Murray or David Hasselhoff, I’m hard-pressed to think of an actor from the 70’s and 80’s who can hold a candle to the notoriety of the Reynolds persona.
While we could never forget his memorable turn as the Bandit or his ragtag team of fellow inmates in The Longest Yard, did you know that he was once a part-owner of a USFL pro-football team based out of Tampa Bay? Or that he once was offered the role of James Bond and turned it down? Reynolds has had quite a few memorable off-screen moments that have heightened his own folklore.
Here are just a few of note:
Ask Me What I Am
Let’s start with Burt Reynolds’ turn as a musician. Before Bruce Willis became Bruno, before Eddie Murphy reminded us that his girl liked to Party All the Time, Reynolds tried his hand at the 1970’s country cowboy music craze. “Flying kites. Pillow fights. Lay me down to sleep nights,” kicks off the auto-biographical 1973 musical album. A nostalgic beat poem about his childhood followed by a spoken word story of getting into trouble and learning lessons. Serenading the woman to whom he eventually would lose his virginity. Settling down and realizing he can’t shake the world and coming to grips with his mortality. Interestingly enough, his memoir is almost a response to this album entitled, “But Enough About Me.” You can pick up the full album for a few bucks on vinyl. Or give it a listen on YouTube as you read the rest of this article.
My memories of Cannonball Run as a film are few and far between. It’s been quite a while since I’ve watched the film from start to finish. But my memory of the blooper/gag reel, which ran alongside the end credits, is absolutely as crystal clear as recalling my ABCs. Frequently I still refer to necklaces as “bleeds” to blank stares from those not as familiar with the reel. The blooper reel was and still is notorious. Reynolds particularly wasn’t a fan of the film. And there was a slew of production issues that plagued the film behind the scenes. But watching this gag reel gives the illusion that Cannonball was one of the most entertaining film sets. Even if there are undercurrents of frustration between Reynolds and Dom DeLuise accentuated by over-foley sound effect slaps.
I Double Dare You To Hit Me
(Credit: Marc Summers Productions:)
One of the Burt Reynolds moments that has vexed me for years is his fight with Marc Summers on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in October of 1994. Was it staged? Was it real? Truth be told, it’s a little suspect that the stagehands had banana cream pies at the ready. Summers recollected the event in 2017 suggesting that it was all unplanned, and a result of Reynolds being in a funk from his book tour and divorce. Was there bad blood between the two of them that boiled over in front of a live audience? Or was it the result of two large personalities colliding? Upon rewatching, it seems as if Reynolds is standoffish toward Summers right from the start. Be the judge yourself and watch the tale of the tape below.
The Bandit Special Edition Trans Am
Unveiled at the 2016 New York Auto Show, The Bandit’s famous Trans Am made a brief and very limited comeback just in time for Smokey and the Bandit’s 30th Anniversary. Only 77 of the special edition cars were made, each of them signature editions featuring Reynolds’ John Hancock on the dash. But the return of the Black Trans Am is not what’s notable. No, that’s reserved for the amazing featurette created to announce the cars by builder Trans Am Depot. Reynolds growls and grunts at the top of the short promo piece which unveils the car in several sexy beauty shots. The co-founders and builders of SE Trans Am speak from the heart. While Reynolds’ poetic soundbites almost sound like they’re from an interview completed for something unrelated. Quipping things like, “Well, you got it. Whether you want it or not.” And lamenting how much trouble he got in because he was, “a little more than frisky.” The last thirty seconds are trademark Burt Reynolds. They’re not to be missed.
Behind the Wheel of Another Classic Movie Car
Reynolds might be most identifiably coupled with his 1977 Pontiac Trans Am from Smokey and the Bandit. However, in 1987, the film Malone (airing during the Father’s Day marathon here on CHARGE!, which I personally am excited to watch) an attempt was made to marry Reynolds with another classic: a 1969 Ford Mustang. In the opening sequence of the film, Reynolds’ character is fleeing from his old life in the classic car. He eventually runs out of fuel and is forced to push it into a refueling station. And, while the car didn’t have the same effect on Reynolds fans as the Trans Am did, it certainly made a mark elsewhere in film history, being the car of choice for Keanu Reeves’ John Wick, Ice Cube in xXx: Return of Xander Cage, John Cusack and Thomas Jane in Drive Hard, and almost every notable television show of the 1970s.
Of course, this moment isn’t actually Reynolds himself, but the heightened caricature developed by Norm MacDonald. In 1999’s Saturday Night Live parody of Celebrity Jeopardy, MacDonald returned to cameo on the show that had infamously let him go. MacDonald enhanced Reynolds’ quirks like his penchant for smacking on gum, talking tersely and irreverently, and forever ingrained the nonsensical name Turd Ferguson into all our pop culture brains. It was one of the few impressions that MacDonald performed while on SNL. In fact, according to MacDonald in a Howard Stern interview, he created the Celebrity Jeopardy sketch three years earlier, just to get his impression of Reynolds on the air.
Get a bang out of Father’s Day with THE BURT REYNOLDS MOVIE MARATHON! Five movies with Burt Freakin Reynolds!
Oh yeah! Starting Sunday at 12/11 C on CHARGE!