Burt Reynolds in 1975

Guy Who Esplains Thins: The best thing about the Internet is that everyone can be whoever and whatever they want to be, and nobody else is any the wiser. That’s why it’s so beautiful here on the Internet. So, check this: right now, I’m Burt Reynolds in 1975, chilling out with Eastwood at my Hollywood Hills estate. My knees are feeling better, I haven’t made “Smokey and the Bandit” yet, and the Scotch still hasn’t scrambled my brains.

Lord MacCormack in 2005: How’s your hair doing in 1975, Burt? Is it still all your own, or do you have to use the rug already?

Burt Reynolds in 1975: You can tell that I did “The Longest Yard” sans rug. But this was the last film that they could work around the baldness with strange camera angles. Since it is only 1975, I have no idea what a huge joke me and my hair are going to become, or that it will take me talking about violating a girl’s ass in “Boogie Nights” to recapture a modicum of my integrity. The ghosts of “Smokey and the Bandit II” will haunt me to my dying day, but I don’t know that yet in 1975.

Lord MacCormack in 2005: I love you like a dirty uncle, 1975 Burt, but you know, it isn’t “Smokey” that’s gonna begin your slide, it’s the movies that are coming out next that force you into doing the Smokey movies. First up, you’re gonna do the horrible botch job musical “At Long Last Love,” and then the gee-shucks stupid “W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings,” both huge box office bombs. Your Smokey personality first emerges in in “W.W.,” though, so right now get off the sofa, call your agent, and kill those two films. For the love of God, man, do it now!!! For the children!!!

Burt Reynolds in 1975: It’s that sumbitch slickster agent got me into this mess. I can’t call him! Besides, it’s 1975, man. I’m walking on air right now. “Smokey” is still two years away, same year as that stupid “Star Wars” piece of crap. Damn, I hate that movie! Did you know they turned me down for the part of Lando Calrissian? It’s true!

Hal Ashmongensencrofter in 1981: Burt? Hal Ashmongensencrofter here. Casting director for Lucasfilms. You know, I took all sorts of crap for putting Billy Dee Williams in “The Empire Strikes Back,” since people just saw him as an out-of-place token black man in an otherwise all-white Universe. So I’m going back in time to give him the boot, and I want you to be my Lando Calrissian after all. We’ll make it up to the ethnic demographic when we do the prequel series a couple of decades from now. There’s this great character called Jar Jar Binks that’ll just knock the socks off those Afro-Americans!

Burt Reynolds in 1975: You got yourself a deal there, Hal. I’ll travel forward in time to skip straight over the “Smokey” movies and keep my critical credibility with a scene-stealing cameo in the biggest film franchise ever. This internet time travel stuff is the best!

Roger Ebert in 1980: Burt Reynolds moves through “The Empire Strikes Back” with his usual ease, relaxed and ingratiating and flashing a con man’s smile. He’s engaging, especially when he has an attractive actress to work with (there seems to be something chemical involved) and he makes a passable-enough Lando Calrissian, but the movie just doesn’t supply its Good Ol’ Boy with enough to do or a plausible world to inhabit. Plus, what’s up with the weird camera angles where you can never see the top or back of his head? Reynolds could have done better for himself over the long-haul by steering clear of second-fiddle roles in the sci-fi genre altogether. Imagine what he could have done if he’d built on the character he so eloquently inhabited in the woefully under-appreciated “W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings,” maybe taking it on the road in a buddy flick, where a cowboy hat could hide the parts of his head that he so clearly doesn’t want us all to see. We can dream, can’t we?

Burt Reynolds in 1981: Pass me that bottle of Scotch there, will you, Clint? Clint? You still here? Clint?

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