Tuesday, September 02, 2008

East Bound And Down

That is a kickass picture. Sorry to say that the great musician Jerry Reed died yesterday at age 71. Reed had two very successful careers, the first as a first-rate session musician, songwriter and singer who was good enough to cross over from the country to the pop charts with the hit singles "When You're Hot, You're Hot" ("90 days, Jerry!") and the swampy "Amos Moses". You may also remember "She Got the Goldmine (I Got the Shaft)" and my favorite, "East Bound and Down," from SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT.

Which brings to mind Reed's second career: as an actor. His friend Burt Reynolds brought Jerry to Hollywood to co-star in W.W. AND THE DIXIE DANCEKINGS, from which he graduated to bigger roles in GATOR (as an effectively gruesome heavy) and SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT as Snowman, the happy-go-lucky trucker who hauled cases of Coors from Texarkana to Atlanta. "East Bound and Down," a great song, came from SMOKEY, which featured a score by Bill Justus. Apart from Burt, Reed was also quite good in THE SURVIVORS and in a small role opposite Gene Hackman in BAT 21. On television, Reed played a cop in the shortlived NASHVILLE 99 and himself in the summer replacement variety hour THE JERRY REED WHEN YOU'RE HOT YOU'RE HOT HOUR (talk about networks jumping on a trend).

Known for a tremendous sense of humor that definitely came through the screen in his best-known film roles and in stage and TV performances, Reed will definitely be missed.

See director Jack Hill's MySpace page for a recent photo of actress Roberta Collins, who also passed away recently. Like Candice Rialson (amazingly, the two never worked together), Collins was a beautiful and talented blonde actress who appeared mainly in exploitation movies of the 1970s. Probably best known for acting in Hill's trendsetting THE BIG DOLL HOUSE (in which she uttered the classic line, "Get it up, or I'll cut it off."), Collins brought a brassy comic touch to several grimy drive-in classics, such as THE UNHOLY ROLLERS, THE AROUSERS (directed by L.A. CONFIDENTIAL's Curtis Hanson), EATEN ALIVE, CAGED HEAT and particularly DEATH RACE 2000, in which, as Matilda the Hun, she competed in a deadly cross-country road race against Sylvester Stallone, David Carradine and Mary Woronov.

Rialson never knew how revered she was among a certain subset of film fans. Hopefully, Collins, who remained in touch with Hill at least, did. No one besides Hill and the pseudonymous but respected blogger Arbogast appears to be reporting her death for the time being. The films she was in may have been small, but her contribution to them, as well as their impact on their fans, was anything but.

P.S. Jeremy Richey looks at three of Roberta Collins' films at his blog: the fine THE AROUSERS, the wacky THE DEADLY AND THE BEAUTIFUL and the made-for-television TERROR ON THE BEACH. I have copies of all three films, and while all are worth watching, Collins is only memorable in THE AROUSERS, in which she plays a prostitute who role-plays for Tab Hunter's serial killer with mommy issues.


Hal said...

Very sad to hear that the Snowman is no longer with us. I also remember CONCRETE COWBOYS, an attempt to ride the good ol' boy wave on TV that was unfortunately a little too late (1981, when the DUKES imitators were fading; by the next year it was DUKES, DALLAS and that was pretty much it for southern TV chic) and in a mid-1980's flick with a villainous Barry Corbin, WHAT COMES AROUND.

Marty, I'm sure you saw COWBOYS, but did you ever see the latter movie? Reed is a musician (real stretch, I know) and Corbin is his unscrupulous manager.

Marty McKee said...

No, but I have the trailer for WHAT COMES AROUND, which looks like it suffers from a real inconsistency in tone. It's also Reed's only film as a director. Is he the only country-western singer to direct a feature film?

CONCRETE COWBOYS is on one of those Brentwood 10-packs. Reed's co-star was Tom Selleck!

Anonymous said...

I loved Reed's performance in "The Waterboy" especially the flashback to the '70s scene with Jerry and Henry Winkler. Hilarious!

Hal said...

"It's also Reed's only film as a director. Is he the only country-western singer to direct a feature film?"

John Mellencamp may not qualify, but he directed and starred in FALLING FROM GRACE in 1992, in which he played a country singer. Not a good film at all, but a good cast helped: he found roles for Kay Lenz, Mariel Hemingway, John Prine (!) and good old Lobo himself, Claude Akins.

Unknown said...

There's a nice tribute to Collins, here: