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In "Shamus," Burt Reynolds is a New York private eye afraid of big dogs
and keeps a beautiful ginger cat
He lives in a single room and sleeps on a pool table He is quite capable of pushing a heroin addict's face into the garbage He is certainly the 1970's version almost in comic-strip of the private investigator
Reynolds lives cheaply, yet is hired to pursue a theft of diamonds; he is big and sexy, and the gorgeous Dyan Cannon is only too happy to dally with him at the drop of a clue; and he is apparently so tough that he can take all manner of beatings and emerge unscathed
It is doubtful if he is the sort of man one would want to introduce to one's maiden aunt (the one with all the money), but he is certainly a character to fulfill all the audience's fantasies of violence, sex and thrills
The story of Shamus seems to be loosely based on Raymond Chandler's The Big
Sleep. Burt Reynolds is in the Humphrey Bogart role, and he acquits himself
well playing the Philip Marlowe of the chewing gum generation. He doesn't
take himself too seriously, is less sarcastic than the forties version and
there are quite a few good laughs to be had.
Shamus is remarkable for reflecting the period it was shot in. The directing and the cinematography are very good. I also liked the musical score. There are quite a few nicely stylized action scenes on real locations in dock areas. Dyan Cannon gives her usual solid performance and wears clothes today's fashion designers will be very interested in. Her character's apartment in a high rise on East River must be the "dernier cri" of 1973s interior decorating: prints of Vasarely and Miro, steel frame chairs with white leather cushions, lamps with huge chrome bowls etc. etc.
This movie, a bright child of its time, is well worth preserving.
Shamus leaves you in no doubt who the star is right from the opening credits, for those who enjoy private eye movies this one is fun from beginning to end. Plenty of action and a murder to solve. The wardrobe dates a bit, but the action sequences are great and the musical score adds to the films "Cool." Who better to do 70's cool than Burt. Dyan Cannon is infectious and there's a good support cast along for the ride. It's a basic enough private eye plot with twists and turns, really banking on it's popular leads. Plenty of good lines and attitude. That said, John P. Ryan is full speed ahead as a corrupt Lt. Col.(unfortunately his characters name always makes me laugh.) Another quick note would be the stake out from the book shop, an update of the sequence from the Big sleep. The film is definitely worth a look. For Reynolds' fans it's a must.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The ever-cool Burt Reynolds gives a typically fine and credible performance as Shamus McCoy, a scruffy, but smooth and studly rugged womanizing private detective who's hired by flaky rich guy E.J. Hume (a pleasingly offbeat turn by Ron Weyand) to find a killer and retrieve a fortune in stolen diamonds. During his investigation McCoy makes the acquaintance of the lovely, vivacious Alexis (delightfully played by the gorgeously voluptuous Dyan Cannon) and uncovers a wild plot to sell surplus military weapons on the black market. Adroitly directed by Buzz ("The Hunter") Kulik, with a colorful and compelling, if rather muddled script by Barry Beckerman, a groovy score by Jerry Goldsmith, occasional exciting outbursts of raw rough'n'tumble fisticuffs, gritty, but lush cinematography by Victor J. Kemper, a funky New York City atmosphere, and a few charmingly quirky touches (McCoy sleeps on a pool table with a mattress on it and has a deep-seated dread of large dogs), "Shamus" makes for a hugely enjoyable and often thrilling private eye flick. Popping up in solid supporting parts are Larry Block as funny sports trivia freak informant Springy, Joe Santos as hard-nosed police Lieutenant Promuto, John P. Ryan as crazed fanatical army Colonel Hardcore, and John Glover in his film debut as a pathetic heroin addict. Excellent downbeat ending, too. Granted, we're not talking unjustly overlooked lost classic here, but this baby overall sizes up as a most entertaining vintage 70's Burt Reynolds star action vehicle.
Although this was a fast-paced pretty interesting crime story, it was
not memorable, which is probably one reason there are so few reviews
Burt Reynolds was perfect for '70s film world of film in which just about anything was shown or heard now that all the restrictions were removed. Burt, as he did in this film, would sleep with any girl that came along. In one scene, Reynolds enters a bookstore, sees the clerk has a "nice pair of boobs," so they have sex immediately right at the store. Only in the sleazy '70s of Hollywood! (Or in most men's dreams.)
Actually, Burt excelled in films that combined action and humor, which this has but not enough to make this one of more-remembered movies. However, it does have very little nudity despite the above paragraph and no blasphemy. The best part of the movies might be the final action scene which provides two laugh-out- loud scenes.
A sarcastic, slightly self-parodying Burt Reynolds in his prime is the best thing this otherwise undistinguished actioner/mystery has to offer. Right from the opening scene, Reynolds sets up an unconventional action-movie character, who doesn't take himself too seriously. Unfortunately, he is plugged into an overloaded and ultimately unresolved plot, and into action sequences that are directed without much flair. Very minor film. (**)
I just watched "Shamus" for the first time, ever. I mainly wanted to
watch it for two reasons, one being I like early Burt, and also that it
was filmed (the Brooklyn scenes) just blocks from where I grew up. I
guess that I like early 70's NYC films as well.
Truth is, I did make it through the movie, but it's not really that good of a movie. Actually, I pretty much have absolutely no idea what it was about. Something about some stolen diamonds, guns, and shady people but it all just got lost to me. The main fun is watching 70's superstud Burt do his private-eye thing, which is mainly smoking cigarettes, acting cool, throwing around witty one-liners, getting chicks to go to bed with him, and punching guys out. Hey, good enough. What was that plot again? Funny scene in a bookstore where Burt walks in and decides he's gonna sleep with the hot intellectual chick in there, and of course he makes her melt with his ultra-coolness and smooth lines. Burt smooth-talks the gorgeous Dyan Cannon too, who kinda underacts here, like she's half asleep.
There are a lot of familiar 70's faces in this. But maybe best of all is Morris The Cat, who I guess earned the role from his rave reviews as 9-Lives spokescat (he was also in the movie "The Long Goodbye"). Morris earns raves as he uses his cool cat skills to, well, be a cool cat when things are happening around him. Morris gets fed a few times and we don't see the brand, 9-Lives definitely missed on some early product placement.
But Burt is good, as he participates in a lot of fighting, loving, swearing, and he even drives a huge stolen army vehicle throughout town with no police interference. The movie has an odd ending, maybe Morris should have helped that out. If you can watch Burt do his thing without caring too much about the mixed up plot, "Shamus" is good for a viewing.
This film is worth viewing just for the pantomime Reynolds does during the opening credits; some really funny stuff. I also liked the fact that an old Twilight Zone alumnus, Buzz Kulick, directed. Reynolds is not a great actor and he knows it. He tends to play the same character in every film he appears in. The one exception is of course the masterpiece Deliverence, where he plays the stoic man of action to the hilt. Shamus is a fast breezy piece of work that is fun to watch and it appears that Burt Reynolds had fun making it. Reynolds also has a tie to The Twilight Zone. In an episode called The Bard, playing a method actor called Rocky Rhodes, Reynolds does a hilarious parody of Marlon Brando.
This film brings back good memories for me. It's the first film that I
had enough nerve to ask a girl out to when I was a teen. As my first
official date, I was soon upstaged by the very rising star power of
I think this film must have been planned as a recurring character for Reynolds--sort of a low brow "Saint" or a poor man's James Bond. Like "Remo Williams--The Adventure Begins" it unfortunately ended as soon as it began. Bigger and better things came to Reynolds soon after this release and he apparently sought not to be type cast as an American P.I. with a Scottish variant of the name James.
Still, it was a good film, and exciting and action packed by the standards of the day. Reynolds is a cool, believable and likable hero figure who acts like Popeye on spinach in the fight scenes. Cannon is good scenery in the film, but not much more. This isn't her fault-- the script treats her like little more than a prop. The villain in the film is hate worthy, though not formidable, but his "henchmen" provide good conflict for the "I do my own stunts" Reynolds.
I give the film a 7 out of 10.
(There may be Spoilers) If it wasn't for Burt Reynolds being in the
film "Shamus" I doubt that it would have ever been made. At the hight
of his popularity back in 1973 Burt Reynolds could do nothing wrong
when it came to getting millions of movie goers to see any film that he
was in and "Shamus" is a perfect example of his enormous drawing power
back in those days.
You would have thought that the makers of "Shamus" would have given the movie a believable plot but right from the start it's totally unsound with a blowtorch, or flame-thrower, murder of Vincent Pappas and his girlfriend as their both in bed. The killers after setting the entire house on fire jump through the sky-window, in fire-proof suits, and rob the safe of millions of cut and uncut diamonds. They could have easily knocked off Pappas with a silencer gun or even knocked him out cold without drawing any attention to themselves by almost burning the entire house down!
The owner of the stolen diamonds a billionaire named E.J Hume who could have gotten the best detective agencies in the city, or the world, gets in touch with this down and out PI Shamus McCoy Hume's 53 choice! The other 52 private eyes he contacted turned down the job?. Shamus who's either too cheap or so weird that he doesn't even have a bed, in what looks like his Brooklyn loft, to sleep in. Shamus has a mattress attached to his pool table that he, and the many girlfriends and one-night stands that he has in the movie, sleeps on; a pool table on which we never see him pay any pool?
Getting $5,000.00 up front, and $5,000.00 after he finds E.J Hume's diamonds,Shamus goes on his way to find out just what happened to Pappas' stolen diamonds and who was responsible for his, and his girlfriend's's, murder. By this point the movie things really starts to spin out of control with now the US military being involved in some kind of illegal arms dealings by corrupt US Army Col. Hardcore that also involves the secretive E.J Hume.
You begin to wonder just what does Col. Hardcore have to do with E.J Hume's stolen diamonds and the Pappas' murders? As soon as were introduced to Col. Hardcore by Shamus' top squeeze in the movie Alexis Montaigne, who's brother Felix is also involved with E.J Hume in a company that he's a silent partner in, he's killed in broad daylight by E.J Hume's mobsters and both Shamus and Alexis are on the run for their lives.
Were never given to understand just what the connection is between E.J Hume's diamonds and the corrupt Col. Hardcore illegal arms dealings are and where in God's name are the tons and tons of military hardware going to? The Mafia the underground militias or to foreign or domestic terrorist organizations?
Burt Reynolds' Shamus is anything but a decent guy in the movie with him almost strangling, with a sadistically gleeful grin on his face, two helpless persons to death in order to get information from them. This brutal as well as uncalled for action could have easily landed him behind bars in any country on earth for committing crimes against humanity.
Later in the movie Felix is kidnapped by E.J Hume's hoods and almost beaten to death and all you can do is just wonder why? Felix was working with Hume and his mob and at no time in the movie was Felix ever suspected to be turning, or ratting, on Hume? So why is he treated this way? Shamus breaks into Hume's mansion and instead of saving the badly beaten Felix from Hume's thugs and attack dogs gets him shot and killed instead! No wonder Alexis walked out on him at the end of the movie.
The final few minutes of the film is a jumble of shootings dog and fist fights as well as Burt Reynolds' Shamus almost breaking his neck as he, or what was obviously his double, missed grabbing on to a tree branch and landing smack dab on his head on the hard ground below.
The film wasn't a total loss, for me at least, since it had in it the world famous Nine Lives feline star Morris the Cat, who's name for some reason in the movie was just "Cat", as Burt Reynold's co-star and Shamus' room-mate. Morris was by far the most believable handsome and likable character, as well as the best actor, in the movie.
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