Monday, June 5, 2017

Junesploitation Day 5: Burtsploitation!

He's hot on the track...and off!

69 comments:

  1. Danny Huston's THE MADDENING (1996, 96 min.) on YouTube for the first time.

    Yep, the same Danny Huston that you've seen crop in dozens of big supporting roles (including Ludendorff in this weekend's superhero epic "Wonder Woman") helmed this direct-to-video psychological thriller. Burt Reynolds plays Roy, patriarch of a dysfunctional "Texas Chainsaw Massacre"-lite Florida family that kidnaps a mother ("Ferris Bueller's" Mia Sara) and her young daughter when their '56 Chevy Thunderbird catches his attention. Through flashbacks, ramblings from Roy's crazy wife (Angie Dickinson) and brat stepdaughter, plus taunting monologues from his dead 'pa (William Hickey), we learn the powder keg of repressed anger that is boiling in the Scudder household is about to explode. Can Cassie's career-minded hubby (Brian Wimmer) and comic relief fat cop Chicky (Josh Mostel) get to them before it's too late?

    Burt wasn't known for playing bad guys, but for "The Maddening" he goes all out with a Junesploitation! hat trick: punching women, rape and baby killing... on camera! He's okay, but Angie Dickinson gets the acting MVP for committing to the role of a deranged woman who lives in her own world. Too bad after paying all these actors (including Reynolds family members performing stunts in the Burt-owned Florida ranch the film was shot at) Trimark had no budget left to hire a good musician. The shitty keyboard-heavy music (ULTRA-STEREO-SPLOITATION!) and bad pace make this 96 min. flick feel like it lasts two hours plus. Worth seeing to see how low Burt's career was at before he got his "Boogie Nights" career revival.

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    1. BTW, whoever came up with the idea of Burtsploitation! is a freaking genius. I went into a deep rabbit hole looking at options in Burt's filmography for this day, and there was so much to choose from I nearly lost my mind. There are James L. Brook-penned romantic (1979's "Starting Over") and cop-buddy comedies (1984's "City Heat"), Burt's non-vehicular directorial efforts (1978's "The End"), his pre-"Smokey" tough guy period (1969's "Sam Whiskey," co-starring "The Maddening's" Angie Dickinson), his post-"Boogie Man" star vehicles (two, count 'em, two "Universal Soldier" DTV sequels! :-P )... it goes on and on.

      In the same vein and spirit of Burtsploitation!, may I make a suggestion for next year's festivities? How about TRAVOLTASPLOITATION!? Looking at John's filmography, there are action pictures galore ("Broken Arrow," "Face-Off"), camp ("Staying Alive," "Hairspray," "Moment to Moment"), personal favorites ("Blow-Out" being Patrick's), genre-defining highlights ("Saturday Night Fever," "Pulp Fiction"), nasty stuff ("Battlefield Earth," "The General's Daughter," "Basic") and a boatload of in-between forgotten genre stuff ("The Experts," "Look Who's Talking," "Shout," "Perfect," etc.). What do you say Patrick? How about giving John Travolta the Junesploitation! bump next year along with 'hottie to be named later' day? :-)

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    2. I agree, it's a top name for a day, great work from the Boss man,

      ULTRA-STEREO-SPLOITATION! Is pretty great too

      And even I can't squeeze an Xtro joke I to Burt day no matter how hard I try, thpugh I bet Burt loved it

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    3. I'm so down for TRAVOLTASPLOITATION!

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    4. You're going to have another group of F-heads lobbying for Cagesploitation day if you guys persist with this idea. It'll be the Judean People's Front vs the People's Front of Judea all over again.

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    5. In that case, Nonnymouse, Patrick should play Donald Trump and bring together the Travolta-loving Jews and Palestinian-worshiping Cageheads into a FACE/OFFSPLOITATION! Day. One side brings their "Bangkok Dangerous," "Wicker Man" and/or "The Rock" while the other side counters with "Get Shorty," "Grease" and/or "Taking of Pelham 123." Two men get in, only one ends he day on top. Let the best Junesploitation! all-star win. ;-)

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    6. We'll have Travoltasploitation, and you can watch Face/Off. ;)

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    7. No, Daniel, we'll have Cagesploitation and you can watch Face/Off.

      Oh god, the schism has begun.

      See what you've done, J.M. Vargas? This is exactly how the Byzantine Empire fell.

      Join me, fellow F/Cageheads, in our warrior cry: "Release the baby!"

      The filthy Travoltraitors will be placed in plastic bubbles and forced to watch Moment By Moment from 1978 until they repent.

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    8. I know where my loyalties lie.

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  2. Sharky's Machine (1981, dir. Burt Reynolds)
    I really did not feel like watching a Burt Reynolds movie, but this was fantastic, and I'm grateful I was forced to have a reason to. Burt holds no natural appeal to me, and the smell of "I'll show 'em all I'm to be taken seriously!"- Burt Reynolds, Director, positively saturates this movie; but boy oh boy, does some exciting, crazy, and impressive shit happen in this movie. The cast is fucking outstanding: Charles Durning, Bernie Casey, Brian Keith, John Fiedler, and especially Henry Silva, going allllll out and taking his typically villainous stock persona up to horror movie monster levels. There are some martial arts moments that rival Pieces's. Because we know it's Burt behind the camera, there's an impulse to sniff out a sense of pretension on my part, but I think if this had been credited to a Michael Mann or a Don Siegel, without a frame of it being any different, we'd be touting it as a forgotten masterpiece.

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    1. That's why I like being made to watch these. You never know when you're going to find something you love.

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    2. Smokey and the Bandit (1977, dir. Hal Needham)
      Well, I feel like a possum's pecker. I guess I love Burt Reynolds now. This is a new, uncomfortable feeling. :|

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    3. Sharky took me by surprise too. The humor works when it's supposed to without taking away from the main plot. The moments of Burt being charming fall mostly in line with the story, but doesn't overly become self indulgent. A few lulls here and there (mostly the middle section). I like the Mann comparison.

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  3. Smokey and the Bandit (1977)

    I was expect the goofy, I wasn't expecting it to be delightful.

    Oh the Reynolds laugh.

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  4. The Best Little Whore House in Texas (1982)

    The one person more charismatic than Burt Reynolds in the early 80s has to be Dolly Parton, and for me she is the heart of this movie. You can see even Reynolds stepping back and giving her space for her glorious Mae West swagger. And yes, I have always prefered her version of I Will Always Love You. Even though the tone actually feels out of place within the context of the movie, Dolly makes it work.

    Over all the movie won me over, I giggled a lot through Dom Deluise's introduction and Charles Durnings musical number is pretty spectacular, with the whole turning in the hat thing.

    Best Little Whore House is the perfect sunday arvo movie, it's a happy and silly movie.

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    1. Yeah, the hat thing. Durning's musical number is a delight. Watching that scene never fails to cheer me up when I'm down.

      Youtube: Sidestep - Charles Durning - The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas

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  5. Paternity (1981)

    Mr. Reynolds wants a baby but not a wife. No sirry. He's going to pick someone and it will be totally plutonic. They will definitely not end up falling in love. Nope. Don't you even think about it. Mustached. 3 out of 10.

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  6. Striptease (1996). First view

    The strip scenes are where this movie drags the most (all 153 strip scenes). The movie just halts any time Demi Moore (fake boobs nonwithstanding) is on screen. Everybody else seems to understand that they are in a comedy however, and Burt is delightful playing the dirty old man part.

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    1. Is it that movie where he's walking around with Vaseline in his boots? My first intro to Burt was through this and Boogie Nights.

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    2. And I think I have to two chatacters muddled in my head.

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    3. Yeah, there's a scene in Striptease where Burt's character has covered himself in vaseline and is wearing cowboy boots and little else.

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    4. Now I want to see a Toy Story sequel in which a new toy voiced by Burt Reynolds shows up and when the string on his back is pulled he says, "There's petroleum jelly in my boots."

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    5. Yes Lindsay, this is the movie. Burt is pretty over the top in this. Contrasted against Moore playing it very seriously, the movie is too jarring in tone to work. I would have loved it more as a horny teenager back in 96 (boobies!). Now, not so much.

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  7. Physical Evidence (1989)

    Directed by Michael Crichton although he isn't credited as a writer at all. Burt is a former Police Officer set up for murder and Theresa Russell is the public defender assigned to take his case. There's a lot of cliché dialogue, Ted McGinley as a whiny boyfriend and an eventual romance between Burt and Russell that doesn't feel earned. The movie meanders around a bit but overall it's fine.

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    1. Bonus movie: Citizen Ruth (1996)

      My initial pick for today, it didn't work out too well. Despite the fact on at least one box cover I had seen Burt's name was listed prominently, he was in the movie for maybe 6-7 minutes total, all near the end.

      That said it's an interesting "comedy" that stars Laura Dern as a paint huffing screw-up who gets pregnant and ends up as a pawn on both sides in a conflict between a pro-life group and a pro-choice group. To the film's credit it doesn't try to paint either side as being the "right" one and there's a fitting lack of any real resolution here given that twenty years later this film could be remade without having to change anything. Maybe not the best Burtsploitation but it's damn good Dernsploitation.

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  8. Sharky's Machine (1981)

    I ended up renting this after E.S.A.D.D's review. It surprised me as well, especially after watching Smokey, and Whorehouse where is turning on the charm to 11. Burt feels much more paired back and natural. I like how each different cast member is allowed to be their own thing and not just a foil for Burt to lean on. It's just a really soild movie.

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  9. White Lightning (1973)

    "If You Haven't Seen "White Lightning" You Haven't Seen Burt Reynolds"

    The tag line was obviously written pre-moe. Watching this was like watching a hairless cat walking on its hind legs, smooth talking the ladies and bringing the smack down on anyone that gets its way.
    If this is what Burt's like when his manliness is at half mast, I fear for the South when his is at Full-Burt.
    Bring on Gator!

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  10. Malone (1987, dir. Harley Cokeliss) on Amazon Channels/Starz

    Didn't enjoy this one as much as I anticipated I would. Don't get me wrong, its a competently made "bad" action/drama flick, yet I felt a bit detached from the proceedings.

    Eager to see if Stick (1985) will set my Burtsploitation! course right. #80sBurt

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  11. Heat (1986)

    It's...fine. The main problem is, Burt is supposed to be playing an ex merc with a gambling addiction, living in the worst place in the world for someone with that problem - Las Vegas. He's just too smooth and laid back to convincingly play such a role. For contrast, consider Philip Seymour Hofmann in Owning Mahoney. He nails both the false bravado and white knuckle desperation of a compulsive gambler. Burt is still entertaining to watch, and gets a couple of good action scenes.

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  12. Striptease (1996, dir. Andrew Bergman)

    Since I already saw a '70s Burt movie yesterday, today I went for latter day Burt. Certain scenes of this movie made a lasting impression on me two decades ago I but hadn't seen it since. Maybe I should've kept is as a fond memory.

    Burt is excellent in his goofy role ("Just the touch of your hand sets my pecker on fire"), as is Ving Rhames. Demi Moore is in a much more serious movie than everyone else here. There's a few good laughs here and there, but the 115-minute runtime feels twice as long. I mean it's not like the writing or direction here offers anything special. Or coherent.

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    1. Bonus: The X-Files S9E13: Improbable (2002, dir. Chris Carter)

      A fun little story (if you can call a serial killer story "fun") involving numerology and symmetry, with Burt clearly having fun playing a mysterious (yet goofy) character. Carter directs it with grace, carefully choreographing and meticulously shooting scenes that in ordinary episodes would look mundane. It's not the best of the comedy episodes (that would be Bad Blood), but still a welcome respite from season nine's floundering, Mulderless main story.

      (I just realized I watched a Burt/Robert Patrick double bill. Coincidence? Yes.)

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    2. I love "Improbable," one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dreary period for "X-Files" fans. I have the Italian song used in this episode's final musical number in my MP3 player. So much fun. :-)

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    3. Burt had so many ridiculous one liners. He was the best part, but I thought Ving Rhames was great too.

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  13. White Lightning (1973) (First Time Viewing):

    Burt giggles his way through a tale of country-style revenge. I love that his go-to move in a fight is to punch someone right in the stomach. You don’t see enough of that. Ned Beatty steals the show as a corrupt racist cop. Spoiler: I could not stop laughing when in the final moment Ned Beatty drives into a lake, and instead of trying to escape his car, he simply sits motionless and instantly drowns. This is an awesome movie. I agree w/ Brad L., Bring on Gator!

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  14. Sharky's Machine (1981):

    Sad Burt is Sad.

    Kidding. This movie's good.

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  15. Stick (1985)

    Burt directs himself in an adaptation of a Florida noir by Elmore Leonard (who cowrote the script). The results are moderately entertaining, but pretty far from the finest hour of either of those people. Then again, you get Charles Durning as a pill-addled gangster with a penchant for terrible Hawaiian shirts, so there's some stuff worth seeing.

    Burt plays Ernest "Stick" Stickley, an ex-con getting himself mixed up in drug deals, murder, and other assorted illegal activities. He is (not surprisingly) a badass who remains cool under any pressure, and we know he has balls because every other character is constantly telling him what balls he has. There's a solid supporting cast, including Candice Bergen as the love interest (who falls for him due to the sheer power of his Burtitude) and George Segal (redlining the obnoxious-meter) as the mob-connected Hollywood producer he ends up working for. A bit undercooked, but worth a look if you enjoy Florida crime stories.

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  16. BOOGIE NIGHTS (1997)

    To my surprise, there was absolutely no dancing in this. Someone made it clear to me that they do a lot of the horizontal mambo, but that's it. Either way, I really really enjoyed this because it turned out to be something completely different than what I had expected, even once I knew this wasn't a Saturday Night Fever spin-off, but I mean that in the best way possible

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    1. There absolutely IS dancing in this! In fact, one of my favorite sequences is Mark/Dirk doing a Travolta at the club (during his "rise to the top" montage).

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  17. The Longest Yard (1974)

    Burt plays an ex-football star in prison who is pressured by the warden to start a football team out of the convicts. Burt and his team use the opportunity to get back at the asshole guards and reclaim their manhood! I had a great time with this one. Burt is a badass, but he's also playing a real character with real flaws. His performance is top notch. I love his total inability to be intimidated. Really, all the acting is terrific. And that warden is one sad, pathetic weakling.

    "How'd you get so tough?"
    "Just comes natural I guess."

    Hell yeah it does, Burt.

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    1. The Longest Yard (1974): This makes me want to watch the original, Daniel. The remake is on British Netflix so I picked that one. I am very mixed. I have huuuge issues with this movie.

      This is possibly the most homophobic thing I have seen lately, which is not fun on rainbow month! (Side note: This is saying something because I watched a reporter saying to Kate McKinnon that he thinks it is 'interesting' she is gay as she is beautiful and attractive?! She was very polite and charming, as ever, I wouldn't have blamed her for telling him to shove his microphone up his arse.)
      The movie manages to add a bit of sexism in one sub-plot involving estrogen, charming. There are some very likeable people in it though, Burt being one of them. Nelly being another (not being sarcastic). I really tried to get past the homophobia and then they shoved that cheer-leading thing in my face. I thought the playing in the wet mud scene was really sweet though, and liked the forming of friendships and acceptance that was shown at certain points. I really wish this was a bit more true to that message though in the other aspects of the movie where they completely forget about that to make a really bad, stupid joke. I wanted more Burt too. There was not enough Burt!
      Another side note: I really do not understand American football. Maybe this is another reason why I liked the mud scene, it looked more like rugby. They would have really been able to have at those arse guards if they had played rugby!

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    2. I haven't seen the remake, but I didn't have any desire to watch it before anyway. Check out the original! Lots of Burt and lots of fun.

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  18. Stick (1985, dir. Burt Reynolds) on Amazon Channels/Starz

    The most 80s thing I watched this month not involving ninjas.

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  19. Gator (1976)

    Excited to check this out tonight after work.

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  20. CANNONBALL RUN (1981)
    A bunch of goofy characters join an illegal cross-country race from New York to LA. (The entire U.S. is one big desert in this universe.) The race is mostly an excuse for a series of loosely-connected comedy sketches, culminating in two big set pieces, a brawl at a gas station and the big chase at the end. It’s not good, exactly, but it’s charming in a silly way.

    CANNONBALL RUN II (1984)
    The good will the first movie coasted on is lost in this sequel. The actual race is nearly inconsequential this time, so the comedy sketches are even more loosely unconnected. It should be a delight to see so many beloved actors and comedians in one movie, but nobody is at their best here.

    THE BEST LITTLE (can I use this word?) IN TEXAS
    What an oddity. How is a movie this stupid so excellently acted and beautifully filmed? With all the great performances Charles Durning has done, how is THIS his Oscar nomination? Still, Burt’s guy-next-door charisma is on full display, and I agree that Dolly Parton is terrific. I get the sense that she’s not acting, but she is this country-western force of nature all the time.

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  21. Smokey and the Bandit (1977)

    Burt Reynolds rules in this. The whole movie is great. Patrick knows what he's doing. This is so much better than The Road Warrior. Yeah, I said it!

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    1. Seeing Mad Max Fury Road first didn't do The Road Warrior any favors.

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    2. Adam, I know it's not your first time, but if you play with fire, you might get burned. #notathreat

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  22. Gator (1976)
    Burt does a great job as star and first time director in an action film with a surprising amount of depth. Good action, decent acting, humor that lands, and Burt at some of his best. Worth watching for a boat scene that's on par with Live and Let Die, but without sheriff redneck.

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  23. City Heat (1984)

    I really wished this could have reached its potential, but overall it is still quite enjoyable. Burt is great, despite his difficulties and working opposite the Clint-squint provides plenty of opportunity for pork related shenanigans. There is a pretty good supporting cast here too: Richard Roundtree, Madelaine Kahn, Rip Torn, Robert Davi.

    This has got to be one of the most troubled productions that I have ever heard of that resulted in a watchable finished product. Blake Edwards, credited as Sam O. Brown (S.O.B., get it?), wrote the original screenplay and was attached to direct. Along came Clint who apparently bulied Edwards off the picture, had it rewritten more Eastwooden by the writer of Sudden Impact. They brought in Richard Benjamin, who was apparently terrified of Eastwood. Next, we have the botched chair stunt very early in the production that left Burt with a broken jaw that force him on a liquid diet that would have him lose 30 pounds during production and leave him addicted to painkillers. Although Burt looks noticeably thinner in the film, you can tell the tipping point came near the finale, where most of Burt's action is performed behind a mask by a stuntman. Despite the hardships, Burt still brings the goods and is easily the best part of a very uneven film.

    Come on, Warner Brothers you crank out Ultimate Editions of junk like Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (which I still think sounds like a courtroom drama) and you let a catalog release with a genuinely compelling backstory begging for a making of doc languish in obscurity.

    Recommended for Burtophiles.

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    1. Huh. I watched this for Junesploitation a few years ago but had no idea about the backstory. That very much makes me want to give it another look.

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    2. Another bit of evidence that Eastwood may be a talented actor and director, but as a human being he leaves something to be desired (just ask Sondra Locke).

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    3. That wouldn't be the last time Clint Eastwood was involved in a botched chair stunt.

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    4. Apparently there was a invisibility cloaked Predator sitting on the chair, which explains things....right?

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    5. I just watched Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) for Burtsploitation. The sixth section of the movie features an enormous bloated tit that spreads chaos and destruction wherever it goes.

      Made me think of the current president, for some reason.

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  24. Heat (1986)

    Mr. Reynolds channels Charles Bronson in this (surprisingly not produced by Cannon Films) action/thriller. He plays an ex-mercenary turned bodyguard with a gambling problem (that's a lot, I know), who helps his female friend get revenge on the thugs who attacked her. I felt I hit the jackpot with this one. I was looking for Burtsploitation and I definitely got it. Now I won't be able to listen to Barry Manilow without thinking of Burt forcing me to dance with him. Totally worth checking out.

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  25. Navajo Joe (1966, dir. Sergio Corbucci) on Amazon Channels/Starz

    Figured this would pick me up after the so-so Stick (1985). What I got was a merely passable Spaghetti Western with a fairly memorable sequence or two and some truly despicable villains. Frankly speaking I found the background on the production to be more entertaining than the film itself. #TheWrongSergio

    I tried folks, but I guess Burtsploitation! just wasn't my day.

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    1. Thanks for playing, which is all that matters. You win at life. :-)

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  26. Sharky's Machine (1981)

    I had to pull an audible and swap out Gator for Sharkys Machine after reading everyone's reviews.

    Thanks to Lindsay and E.S.A.D.D for convincing me!

    Hard boiled crime, drug rings, harpoon guns, and ninjas, Sharkys Machine is a badass piece of filmmaking. Good job Burt.

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  27. Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask)

    Not much Burt in this, and I'd like to say he still brought the Reynolds charm, but it could honestly have been anyone playing his part.

    I 'lolled,' as the kids say, twice; first in segment number one when Woody Allen as the fool breaks the fourth wall and delivers the line, "I fell on my bells," and again in the Burt segment where an African-American actor playing a spermatozoon asks "What am I doing here?"

    Five out of five moustaches for this fantastic movie, which made me want to revisit early, funny Woody, if not Burt.

    P.S. In fairness to Doctor Ross, it was a very sexy sheep.

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  28. Smokey and the Bandit (1977)

    First-timer here and Holy shit did I love this movie. Burt is awesome (in spite of some unnatural puffiness in his face and jeans), Sally Field is cute as hell, Jackie Gleason's great - theres some really good driving but it always feels more fun than dangerous. The movie's only flaw is that everyone's going through all that trouble for fucking COORS? A new favourite and an inspiration to seek out more Burt!

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    1. Well what the hell am I supposed to do now? NOT buy this on blu ray? Geez, thanks a lot.

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  29. Dion and Blake over at Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers did a podcast about Smokey and the Bandit. I thought I'd share that information since a lot of F-Heads chose this film for Burtsploitation.

    I've just put on the Woody Allen non-Burt movie Sleeper from 1973. Woody just... ha ha... he just tried to eat a surgical glove.

    You can't eat those!

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  30. White Lightning (1973)

    Cars chases, moonshine, and Burt kicking ass.

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  31. Smokey and the Bandit (1977)
    I though about watching other Burt movies for today.
    But it has been way too long since I've headed eastbound and down, so there was no other choice.

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  32. Sam Whiskey (1969, dir. Harold Laven)

    Fun western starring pre-stache Burt, Ossie Davis, Clint Walker and Angie Dickinson (OMG Angie Dickinson) as a team pulling off a heist. The mix of heist movie with old west aesthetics makes this unique, though it does get a little slow in the last act when it becomes a Rififi rip-off, but any movie with this cast is going to be watchable. Plus they say the name Bromley a bunch of times.

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  33. Smokey and the Bandit (1977)

    That sum'bitch knows how to drive.

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  34. Gator (1976)

    "Come and get him"

    The post-White Lightning meeting included the following production notes; more jokes, more hillybillies, more people standing around Burt telling him he is funny and/or smart, and more MOE!

    Some cool action, like Patrick Mc said, the opening boat chase is worth a watch. But ultimately it is a "Lets make Burt look cool" vehicle and not much more.

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