Sunday, May 13, 2007

Burt Reynolds IS...


Burt Reynolds was a working journeyman actor for more than a decade before his co-starring performance in 1972's DELIVERANCE made him a movie star. For most of the 1970s and into the early '80s, he was the one of the most popular actors in the world with hits like THE LONGEST YARD, HOOPER, SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT, SHARKY'S MACHINE, THE CANNONBALL RUN, STARTING OVER, SEMI-TOUGH, THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS and many others.

Until DELIVERANCE "delivered" Burt's big break, he was a very busy actor, appearing with great regularity as a guest star on TV shows (he once played a bank robber who got his ass kicked by Flipper!) and a leading man in minor films like SAM WHISKEY and 100 RIFLES. He also was a regular cast member on a few television series--for instance, he was Darren McGavin's sidekick on RIVERBOAT (he reportedly despised McGavin) and played Quint the blacksmith for a few years on GUNSMOKE. 1966's HAWK was Reynolds' first starring role in a TV series, but the New York-shot cop show, in which he played a Native American police detective named John Hawk, lasted just one season.

Reynolds' second stab at being a TV leading man also lasted only one season, but it seems to be more fondly remembered than HAWK, and there's speculation that it helped him land his breakthrough part in DELIVERANCE. DAN AUGUST was a Quinn Martin production, a hard-hitting, basically humorless cop show set in fictional Santa Luisa, California. From the few episodes I've seen, it was a typically solid QM crime drama with decent writing, great guest casts and strong production values. Reynolds earned a Golden Globe nomination for playing August.

Although it appears to have been fairly well received, DAN AUGUST was cancelled in 1971 by ABC after just one season. However, the series didn't end there. To capitalize on Reynolds' stratospheric rise to superstardom, CBS bought the series and aired AUGUST reruns during the summers of 1973 and 1975. Rarely has a television network bought reruns of a rival network's shows, but presumably the '73 run was highly rated, or else CBS wouldn't have run them again in '75.

Here's a 30-second promo for DAN AUGUST that features quick action shots and a bit of Dave Grusin's theme. You'll also notice familiar faces like Richard Anderson, Norman Fell and Ned Romero, who were Reynolds' co-stars on DAN AUGUST.

I'd like to see DAN AUGUST on DVD one of these days. THE STREETS OF SAN FRANCISCO and THE UNTOUCHABLES are the first Quinn Martin series to hit DVD (and THE FUGITIVE has been announced for a summer release). Maybe if they do well enough, other QM productions will follow--CANNON, THE FBI, BARNABY JONES. Martin produced so many hits that it may be awhile before a one-season wonder like DAN AUGUST gets the nod.

And then--dare I say it--BERT D'ANGELO/SUPERSTAR on DVD?


Anonymous said...

Didn't NBC do something similar and buy re-runs of BOSOM BUDDIES from ABC in order to capitalize on Tom Hanks' new found movie stardom?

For the record I dug DAN AUGUST. Reynolds is very good in the part, as is Norman Fell. Fell made a believable cop years before he became associated with the "Mr.Roper" character.

Nostalgia Kinky said...

I'd love to see this on disc. I wrote a lengthy tribute to Burt a month or so ago on my blog and I just love the guy. I've read a lot about this show but have never been able to see it. Thanks for posting.