I was never a huge Burt Reynolds fan. Most of the films released during his peak years were largely crap, and yes, I’m including “Smoky and the Bandit” in with those films. They were largely films built entirely around Reynolds’ massive personality and charisma.
And that was really the key to those peak years of white-hot fame in the 1970′s – that Burt Reynolds charisma. He defined masculine swagger in that decade, that devil-may-care Alpha rogue personality that informed some of what eventually became Han Solo (in fact, Reynolds was offered that part and turned it down). The hairy chest, the mustache, the easy, winking smile … these traits all became part of the blueprint for seventies Men who weren’t gays in tight-fitting polyester suits while dancing to disco. Reynolds was a Man’s Man.
There are only two Burt Reynolds films I really love. One is “Deliverance,” and not just for the infamous rape scene. Reynolds gives a real Alpha performance in this fairly shocking film early in his career.
But my favorite Burt Reynolds film is “Boogie Nights.” It’s not only a great film in its own right, but Reynolds also gives a layered, nuanced performance that I consider his career best.