Burt Reynolds Was a South Florida Movie Machine

Burt Reynolds in Smokey and the Bandit II.
Burt Reynolds in Smokey and the Bandit II. Universal Pictures
When Burt Reynolds passed away yesterday, much was made of his Florida connections. The star of classics such as Deliverance and Boogie Nights graduated from Palm Beach High School and played football at Florida State University. With the star power to be crowned box office champ every year from 1978 to 1982, Reynolds had the dough to invest in a multitude of local businesses. He opened the Burt Reynolds Dinner Theatre, was a co-owner of the USFL team the Tampa Bay Bandits, and opened the Burt Reynolds & Friends Museum in Jupiter, near — where else? — Burt Reynolds Park.

Beyond putting his name on any slice of real estate he could find, Reynolds made a lasting connection to South Florida through the sheer number of movies he filmed here. One could program a multiday film festival with the movies he shot in the area (and let's hope someone will). To get them started, here's a list of Burt Reynolds' movies filmed in South Florida.
Angel Baby. Before growing his trademark mustache, Reynolds made his film debut in this 1961 black-and-white drama. Shot in Coral Gables, the movie starts Reynolds as a crooked promoter who does his worst to exploit a mute woman who suddenly gains the ability to speak.
Semi-Tough. Reynolds reportedly wanted to film The Longest Yard, arguably the greatest football movie, in Florida but had to settle for Georgia. He was, however, able to finagle this 1977 football sex comedy to be shot on location in Miami. He and Kris Kristofferson play Miami pro players who invite the team owner's daughter to move into their Miami Beach apartment. Dated 1970s sexual high jinks ensue.
Smokey and the Bandit II. The 1980 all-star slapstick chase-film sequel had Reynolds sharing the screen with Sally Field and another South Florida icon, Jackie Gleason. The plot involved Reynolds' Bandit going on another cross-country run, transporting an elephant from Florida to Texas. The setting allowed most of the film to be shot at Reynolds' private ranch in Jupiter.
Stick. Many great South Florida films were based on Elmore Leonard novels, from Out of Sight to Get Shorty, but 1985's Stick was the first to be released. Reynolds, who also directed the movie, plays the title character, an ex-con pulled into a friend's drug-running scheme that goes bad. Shot in Fort Lauderdale, the flick was savaged by critics and Leonard himself. Still, it's hard to hate a movie with the catchphrase "The only thing he couldn't do was Stick to the rules."
B.L. Stryker. As evidenced by the opening credits of this 1989-90 ABC TV series, Reynolds probably did a lot of relaxing while playing this detective. Over the course of a minute, the footage shows him lounging in a hammock, kicking his feet up on a desk, goofing around with a giant magnifying glass, and staring dreamily at the Atlantic Ocean. Filmed in Palm Beach, this forgotten series was, according to Wikipedia, about "a Vietnam War vet and retired New Orleans police officer who has moved back home to the other side of the tracks in Palm Beach, Florida, and is working as a private investigator. Stryker lives on a houseboat and drives an old Caddy, and occasionally scrapes up a client while trying to avoid being relocated for not paying his slip fees." Basically, he's showing you how to live your best South Florida life.
The Maddening. Suitable only for Burt Reynolds completists and fans of the so-bad-they're-still-really-bad movie genre, this 1995 direct-to-video release was filmed at Reynolds' ranch in Jupiter. It received this summary from IMDb: "Burt Reynolds finally goes completely insane in this psycho-horror flick about a deranged father who'll stop at nothing to protect his family's secrets."
Striptease. Based on a Carl Hiaasen novel, this movie was supposed to be Reynolds' comeback. Instead, it was named the worst picture of 1996 by the Razzies. Shot throughout South Florida, from Hollywood to Miami Seaquarium, the film stars Reynolds as a sleazy congressman who gets a stripper played by Demi Moore into all kinds of trouble. Striptease's awful reception didn't stop Reynolds from making a real comeback the next year with a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for Boogie Nights.
The Crew. In this 2000 comedy, Reynolds plays a retired mobster planning one last crime to save his South Beach retirement home. It was filmed all over Miami Beach, from Joe's Stone Crab in South Pointe to the now-shuttered Rascal House in Sunny Isles Beach. This flick is an interesting time capsule of turn-of-the-century South Beach.
Miami Love Affair.  This low-budget, as-yet-unreleased independent movie will end up being one of Reynolds' swan songs. According to Variety, "Reynolds portrays a wealthy businessman and art dealer who acts as the narrator and guide through the romantic escapades of those in his orbit. The story follows three relationships during the Art Basel art fair in Miami."
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David Rolland is a freelance writer for New Times Broward-Palm Beach and Miami New Times. His novel, The End of the Century, published by Jitney Books, is available at many fine booksellers.
Contact: David Rolland