Burt Reynolds dies at 82

Burt Reynolds and the cast of Hooper in the film’s final scene

Burt Reynolds, who had a long career and was a big movie star in the 1970s and ’80s, has died at 82, according to The Hollywood Reporter, citing his manager.

In the ’70s, Reynolds’ name came up as a possible James Bond. Director Guy Hamilton was keen on the idea after seeing the actor on television. But nothing came of it.

Reynolds had acting credits extending back to the late 1950s. He was half-Comanche Quint Asper, a sidekick to James Arness’ Marshal Matt Dillon in 50 episodes of Gunsmoke from 1962 to 1965. He also was the star of a short-lived police series, Hawk, in 1966.

Burt Reynolds in the main titles to Dan August (1970-71)

Another police drama, Dan August, paved the way for Reynolds to be a star. Not because the show was a hit (it only lasted one season, 1970-71).

Instead, as noted in the book Quinn Martin, Producer, Reynolds used the show’s blooper reel during appearances on talk shows. For the first time, according to author Jonathan Etter, audiences had an opportunity to witness the actor’s sense of humor.

In the ’70s, Reynolds broke out and became a film star. He was helped by doing a centerfold-style photo shoot for Cosmopolitan, though he’d later say he regretted doing it.

His 1970s credits included the likes of Deliverance, The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing and The Longest Yard (he’d play a different part in a 2005 remake starring Adam Sandler) and, most memorably, Smokey and the Bandit.

Dean Martin, Roger Moore and Burt Reynolds in The Cannonball Run.

Reynolds also had a chance to (sort of) revisit 007 territory in 1978’s Hooper, directed by former stuntman Hal Needham, who had directed Smokey and the Bandit.

In Hooper, the actor played the film’s title character, an aging stunt man working on a James Bond-type film being directed by an “auteur” style director, Roger Deal (Robert Klein). It almost predicted the 21st century 007 films Skyfall and SPECTRE, directed by Sam Mendes.

Another Reynolds comedy, 1981’s The Cannonball Run, included Roger Moore as Seymour, who thinks he’s Roger Moore.

Reynolds’ stardom faded, but he plugged away into the new century. He also extended into directing and producing (including the 1990s television series Evening Shade, where he starred).

Roger Moore double features in LA in August

Roger Moore in a 1980s publicity still

The New Beverly Cinema, a Los Angeles revival movie house owned by Quentin Tarantino, has scheduled Roger Moore double features in August.

According to the theater’s schedule, it is showing:

–Aug. 1: The Cannonball Run, a Burt Reynolds comedy with Moore playing a character who thinks he’s Roger Moore, and Mission: Monte Carlo, a movie that’s re-edited from two episodes of  The Persuaders! television show.

–Aug. 2-3: Ffolkes and The Wild Geese, two non-Bond action films with the actor. Both were directed by Andrew V. McLagen (1920-2014).

–Aug. 18-19: The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker, Moore’s third and fourth films as James Bond.

According to the theater’s website, it only shows film prints.

Thanks to @jamesbondlive, the Twitter feed of the James Bond MI6 website for the tip.

Hal Needham, director of Hooper, dies

Burt Reynolds and the cast of Hooper in the film's final scene

Burt Reynolds and the cast of Hooper in the film’s final scene

Hal Needham, a veteran Hollywood stuntman and director of action comedies such as 1978’s Hooper, has died at the age of 82 according to AN OBITUARY IN THE LOS ANGELES TIMES.

As a director, Hooper, starring Burt Reynolds as an aging stuntman, is arguably Needham’s best work. The movie looks at the stunt work being done on a James Bond-like film by an A-list Hollywood director.

The movie has its origins in an earlier film, 1976’s Nickelodeon. It was directed by Peter Bogdanovich, with Reynolds as one of the stars and Needham as stunt coordinator.

When Hooper came out two years later, there were reviews posing the question whether Needham and Reynolds were getting a little payback. Whether that’s true or not, Hooper wasn’t just played for jokes.

The title character played by Reynolds is getting old for to be a stuntman and knows it; his next major injury could paralyze or kill him. What’s more, Hooper is being pushed by a younger rival stuntman (Jan-Michael Vincent). All of this is happening on a movie directed by egotistic director Roger Deal (Robert Klein) that resembles a James Bond film (starring, as it turns out, Adam West).

Needham also directed 1981’s The Cannonball Run, another Reynolds comedy, with a cast including Roger Moore, playing somebody who thinks he’s Roger Moore.

Here’s part of the climatic sequence of Hooper (as long as it doesn’t get yanked by YouTube):