Sunday, April 22, 2018

A couple of Burts

In 1994, when Burt Lancaster died at age 80, my grandmother was bereft. I was surprised, because she had never expressed her affection for him before. She seemed to go for the Latin lovers that were popular in the old days -- Fernando Lamas, Riccardo Montalban, and most of all, Cesar Romero.

"You don't understand," she said sadly. "Even my movie stars are dying." My dad (her son) was gone. Her husband and parents were gone. And now, even Burt Lancaster, who was crazy popular in her regular movie-going days, was gone.

Reynolds with DeNiro and Chase at the premiere
Today, I kind of understand. I rented The Last Movie Star from Xfinity OnDemand and was touched and appalled by Burt Reynolds. I don't know how to judge his work in this movie, as he is pretty much playing himself and I wonder how it would play to someone who didn't watch him on The Tonight Show and Hollywood Squares and Smokey and the Bandit.

The stud who posed nude for Cosmopolitan now cannot walk without a cane, and his voice is so ravaged it's hard to hear him. I feel sorry for him, but I'm also mad at him. His frailty is a reminder of my own mortality. He's my Burt Lancaster.

I was never a fan of Burt's. He was a little too smirky and a little too superficial. But he was ubiquitous in the 1970s. I saw Smokey and the Bandit at the show ... more than once. We all did. I can still sing the theme song. ("East bound and down, loaded up and truckin'. We're gonna do what they say can't be done. We've got a long way to go and short time to get there. I'm east bound, just watch old Bandit run.") I still think of him whenever I'm served Coor's.

Fortunately the actors of that era I did fangirl over are faring better these days. Two-time Oscar winner Robert Redford just teamed with Jane Fonda for the fourth time in Netflix' Our Souls at Night. I haven't seen it (no Netflix) but I did watch them do publicity. At 81, he's still fit and articulate and he has a scene where he and Fonda dance, so I know he's still mobile.

Oscar winner Warren Beatty is still working, too. I saw his turn as Howard Hughes in Rules Don't Apply. I was ambivalent about it -- Hughes' mental and emotional problems are being played for laughs and they really weren't funny. But here's the old auteur, acting and directing at 80. And, lest you have any questions about his mental agility, just recall him at both the 2018 and 2017 Academy Awards.

It was Warren who first realized what had gone wrong at the 2017 Oscars, that LaLa Land wasn't really the winner. He knew he had been given the wrong envelope and refused to relinquish the evidence until he was vindicated. It was fun to watch. He may be old, but he's still imposingly tall and he just wasn't letting go of that envelope and no one was going to make him.

Bonnie and Clyde at the 2018 Oscar do-over

God bless you guys. Because Bob and Warren, you mean more to me than your estimable work. You are my touchstones. Don't go all Burt Reynolds on me!


  1. I saw a photo of Bono the other day and wondered what the heck weird color his hair was (some kind of greenish/brown) and it occurred to me that of course it's not his natural color... It dawned on me that we're getting older...

  2. I'm practically in that generation - missed by about 8 years. Burt Reynolds I remember most of all as being in a movie in which there was a scene of dueling banjos, "Deliverance", and owning the Po'Folks franchise. We used to eat at our local one when the food was still good.