|Jan 31 2022
He's a two-fisted loner who sometimes has to work outside the law. But he still could use a good script.
Burt Reynolds: unacknowledged acting genius? Absolutely—and we'll fight anyone who says differently. He debuted in television in 1958, but wasn't a movie star until a decade later. He was brilliant in serious roles such as Deliverance and The Longest Yard, but also had an easy flair for comedy. Shamus, which premiered today in 1973 and for which you see a U.S. three-sheet above, is a typical Reynolds effort, an action-drama with humor sprinkled throughout. In terms of sheer performing, this is a lay-up for him. He handles the drama with no problem and charms his way through the upbeat sections with the help of equally affable foil Dyan Cannon. As a bonus, he also performs several impressive stunts we can't imagine a modern actor attempting.
Reynolds' detective character Shamus McCoy is a tribute to Humphrey Bogart’s Philip Marlowe in 1946's The Big Sleep, with two scenes lifted almost wholesale from that film—one in which he seduces a buxom bookstore clerk, and one in which he meets his client in a refrigerated office (instead of a hothouse). He's hired to solve a murder/jewel heist that turns out to be connected to arms dealing, but the caper is flat from beginning to end, failing to build much interest or momentum. Reynolds, who made several smarmy action-comedies like Smokey and the Bandit and Hooper, was not shy when assessing his own abilities. He said he was as good in those lightweight films as it was possible for an actor to be. We agree, but even Burt can't make Shamus good.
ShamusSmokey and the BanditHooperDeliveranceThe Longest YardBurt ReynoldsDyan Cannonposter artcinemamovie review