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September 06, 2018

Burt Reynolds Dead at 82

Another 70s icon passes.

My three favorite Burt Reynolds movies are...

(The first two are kind of obvious, the last one, maybe less so.)

1. The Longest Yard -- a very cynical movie about sports and prison and dirty, dirty criminals. Also funny. I always felt weird watching this as a kid, because it made you root for killers and rapists. I'll never forget the lightbulb trap.

2. Deliverance. Obviously. They pull a Rian Johnson Subvert-Your-Expectations thing with the Burt Reynolds character but he's good in it and the film, obviously, is legendary. Primal and potent.

3. My absolute favorite movie from the early eighties -- Sharky's Machine. Man, I was just thinking about this movie the other day. I wonder if it holds up. All I know is I watched it about 300 times as a kid and it held up through all of those watchings.

Apparently he directed it.

If you don't know the movie: It's a gritty, realistic crime drama with little of the usual Burt Reynolds swagger or silly humor (though there is some more restrained humor here).

Reynolds plays a Narcotics cop named Sharky who causes a civilian to be shot during a drug bust and gets demoted to the shittiest department in the Atlanta police force, Vice, which is where, apparently, all the oddballs and incompetents are assigned.

But he gets interested in a case involving a nasty pimp and trafficker in underaged sex slaves, and he leads the Bad News Bears of law enforcement into becoming a halfway decent unit -- the "Sharky's Machine" of the title.

Rachel Ward's in it and there is some Brief Nudity of highest quality. And note: Brief Nudity isn't brief if you just pause the videotape for half an hour or so.

Also, you know when action movies have a torture scene and it's always the sort of bullshit like electric shocks that cause no permanent damage or even damage that can't be shaken off by the next scene?

Yeah, Sharky's Machine doesn't play that way. This movie's idea of torture is actual torture, the kind that makes you turn away.

Also: Great, moody final confrontation.

Also: Henry Silva as a deranged psychotic assassin. But playing it really well here.

Also: The "Bad News Bears" of the Vice squad are actually pretty funny and there are some really good character actors in there, giving them all a lot of presence despite not giving them that many lines.

Also: I'm 99% sure that Shane Black was directly inspired to write Lethal Weapon by Sharky's Machine. There are a lot points of similarity.


A lot of people might remember Bernie Casey's passion for Zen meditation and his belief he can "ghost" out of bad situations just by emptying his mind. Beware, past the first clip, the video jumps right to the ending scenes with lots of spoiler material.

I'm definitely going to have to rent this one again.

Early Open Thread.

You guys have any favorite Reynolds movies?

Bonus: Although Stick wasn't a great movie, it had one of the most innovative stunts ever.

That was pre-CGI. The beginning of the stunt is real. He really falls without a net. (Later they switch to a dummy.)

How they did it:

Dar Robinson, a major stuntman (who also did the stunts in Sharky's Machine), was cast as the albino villain, so he could do the stunt in character, and you could see his face as he fell.

Robinson invented a special piece of equipment for the gag, a decelerator with a thin steel cable attached to his ankle I think, which let him fall at normal g-force acceleration for 30 or 40 feet before it began slowly and safely decelerating him to slower speeds and finally to a safe stop.


One of the problems with the stunt is that you kinda can't believe it's real so you just assume there's a greenscreen or some other fakery being used. But no, it's mostly real.

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posted by Ace of Spades at 06:41 PM

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