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Burt Reynolds is one of the most outstanding actors of his time, armed with a mustache and an electrifying grin than most of his peers in the industry can muster. For a better part of his career, the actor was greatly underrated but looking through some of the greatest Burt Reynolds movies, one cannot help but agree that he did serve some of the most memorable acts.
That said, he was still regarded as an ideal character of a Hollywood tough guy in the early 70s and 80s. He first made his mark through TV, with about 50 episodic appearances on the hit series “Gunsmoke”, and then went on to headline his own series, “Hawk” and “Dan August.”
1972 was the year that marked the beginning of his success story in acting, that was when he co-starred in director John Boorman’s classic “Deliverance.” He also featured in huge box office projects such as “The Longest Yard” and “Smiley and the Bandit.”
In the course of his acting career, Reynolds did achieve and recorded some milestones, winning accolades to his name. He got an Emmy Award for Best Actor for the role he played in the CBS sitcom “Evening Shade”. He also won his first Golden Globe and an Academy Award nomination for his performance in Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Boogie Nights”.
Greatest Burt Reynolds Movies
1. DELIVERANCE (1972)
This movie gave Reynolds the breakthrough in his acting career. He was brought in by director John Boorman to play the role of Lewis Medlock who decides to go on a rather psychologically and physically exhaustive journey alongside three other city fellows: Ed Gentry (Jon Voight), Bobby Trippe (Ned Beatty), and Drew Ballinger (Ronny Cox) down a river in Georgia.
Refusing to heed to early warnings from the locals, they would soon find themselves at the crossroads battling for survival. Now Bobby and Ed got separated from Lewis and Drew, two dangerous men with rifles emerged, tied up Ed and one of them raped Bobby. Lewis and Drew later came to the rescue and what was supposed to be an adventure of sweet memories turned to a nightmare.
The film was a major success with three Oscar and five Golden Globe awards nominations.
2. SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT (1977)
This is yet another fine display from the actor which also shows that Reynolds is a star of always. The 1977 action-packed-comedy saw him as Bo “Bandit” Darville who together with Cledus “Snowman” Snow (Jerry Reed), attempted to illegally pick up and transport 400 cases of Coors beer from Atlanta to Texarkana and back to Atlanta again in not more than 28 hours.
To successfully pull this stunt, they devised a plan in which Snow would drive the truck loaded with the beer, and Bandit would drive a Pontiac Trans Am to distract the cops and keep their attention away from Snow. In the course of their run, Texas County Sheriff, Buford T. Justice engages them in hot pursuit. The movie was a box office success with $300 million, becoming the 2nd highest-grossing domestic film of 1977.
3. THE LONGEST YARD (1974)
This is one of the movies that gave credence to sports movies in the industry. It is also the same movie that landed Reynolds his first-ever Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Actor because of his stellar performance in the movie.
The Robert Aldrich directed piece is adapted from a story by producer Albert S. Ruddy which follows the life of a former NFL player (Burt Reynolds) who recruited a group of prisoners to play football against their guards. It also featured real football stars like Ray Nitschke, a Green Bay Packers legend.
The film was remade three times; in 2001 as “Mean Machine”, in 2005 as “The Longest Yard”, and in 2015 as “Captain Masr”. The movie has an 81% rating on Rotten Tomatoes which is based on 32 reviews.
4. THE BOOGIE NIGHTS (1997)
Among other Burt Reynolds movies, this is one movie that has further proved the wits and caliber of the actor. He got an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the movie.
The piece is a historical drama, which centers on a young dishwasher at a nightclub and how he became a famous pornographic star in the golden era of porn; highlighting his rise to stardom and fall in the 70s and 80s. The movie garnered positive reviews, winning three academy awards which include Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Supporting Actor for Burt Reynolds. It got a 93% approval rating which is based on 70 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes.
5. SHARKY’S MACHINE (1981)
This movie follows the story of Sharky played by Burt Reynolds, an undercover police officer who made errors in an assignment and is pushed below the ranks down to a group of hellraisers who make life unbearable. In no distant time, he comes into contact with a prostitute Dominoe (Rachel Ward) who faces danger following her interaction with some thugs.
He decides he must protect her with a series of security measures he puts in place, but things become a little bit awkward as he begins to develop feelings for her. The movie was well-received as Reynolds proves that he is a valuable asset both behind and in front of the camera.
6. STARTING OVER (1979)
Devastated by his wife’s decision to leave him and go after a career in music, Phil Potter who is portrayed by Burt Reynolds finds himself in a state of confusion and so he leaves home and decides to spend some time with close relatives. He becomes a member of a support group that consisted of divorced men seeking consolation.
On her part, his wife Jessica (Candice Bergen) wakes up to the realization that regardless of how attractive one looks physically, to be a singer one must know how to sing. Sadly enough, singing is not for her as she is without any talent, hence, she wants back her husband who is already seeing Marilyn Holmberg (Jil Clayburg), a good and gentle schoolteacher. But then, seeing that his wife is back, he leaves Marilyn and runs back home only to realize his heart is already in Boston with Marilyn.
The film made over $35 million in Box office from a budget of $10 million and it also received slightly more than average in reviews.
7. PUPS (1999)
The film focuses on two young adolescents Stevie (Cameron Van Hoy) and his girlfriend Rocky (Mischa Barton) and how they robbed a bank on their way to school. On citing the cops and no means of escape, they take customers inside the bank as a hostage. Now FBI negotiator Daniel Bender (Burt Reynolds) was sent to the crime scene and it becomes clear to him that the two kids were just pulling a prank that turns too serious and the situation is dicey because they are armed.
It was premiered at the 1999 Los Angeles Independent Film Festival which was just two days before a high school shooting incident involving two armed high school students who went on a killing rampage in Littleton, CO. The movie received a warm welcome and currently has a 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
8. CANNONBALL RUN (1981)
The Hal Needham directed film is a comedy piece starring Burt Reynolds, Roger Moore, Dom DeLuise, and Farrah Fawcett. It is based on the 1979 real cross-country outlaw road race which began in Connecticut and ended in California.
The movie was a box office success in terms of cash with a $100 million on a production budget of not less than $18 million, becoming one of the most successful films of 1981. In spite of its hits at the box office, it was negatively criticized with a 30% approval rating which is based on 33 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes.
9. THE MAN WHO LOVED WOMEN (1983)
The movie follows the story of a successful sculptor David Fowler (Burt Reynolds) who leads a loose and dirty love life. This soon takes a negative turn when his addiction to women renders him impotent as his social life also rapidly deteriorates. He meets a beautiful psychiatrist, Marianna (Julie Andrews), to whom he must tell the truth about his different escapades with several women. Now he falls in love with Marianna, who must stop seeing him as a patient to get involved with him. However, things don’t go as easy as that.
It was a commercial and financial flop, grossing $10.1 million in the box office on a production budget of $12 million. It got negative reviews as Reynolds was regarded as better than the whole film.
10. SEMI TOUGH (1977)
This is one of the most interesting Burt Reynolds movies. It is packed with comedy and romance. Based on a novel of the same title by Dan Jenkins, the movie centers on two pro football pals, Billy Clyde Puckett (Burt Reynolds) and Marvin “Shake” Tiller (Kriss Kristofferson) who both fall in love with Barbara Jane Bookman (Jil Clayburg), the daughter of their club owner. The two men come up with strategies on how to win her heart.
The film got mixed reviews; meanwhile, some appraised its use of the parody of the EST training, others criticized the scripting and directing, decrying the film’s deviation from the original story which deals with more of football than the new age movement.