Here is our third and final installment of our tribute to Burt Reynolds: “Malone” (1987).

25 Mar

When looking at Malone I think it is important to put the film in the context of Reynolds’ career, by the mid ’80s his heyday was unfortunately over, and he ceased to be the superstar he once was.  Box office duds like Stick (1985) and Rent-a-Cop (1988), along with unfounded rumors that he had contracted AIDS (he was actually suffering from a joint ailment), were career cyanide.  The TV series Evening Shade provided Reynolds a brief pick-up and an Emmy, but when his marriage to Loni Anderson dissolved into an ugly, endless tabloid drama, Reynolds’ career (and product endorsement contracts) nosedived.  He made Malone right in the eye of this storm.

Now let’s get one with it.  Malone is a 1987 movie, starring Burt Reynolds and written by Christopher Frank and based on a novel by William P. Wingate.  In addition to Reynolds, Cliff Robertson and Lauren Hutton also play major roles.

Malone (Burt Reynolds) has been a “wet” operative for the CIA for many years, serving his country by performing assassinations.  He was tired of his job and wanted to get out of “the company” (as it is typically called) and live a “normal” life.  He is driving through the Pacific Northwest, looking for a place to settle down, when his much-cherished classic Mustang has transmission problems and breaks down outside the town of Comstock.  Reynolds manages to get to a small gas station and is treated like family by a Vietnam veteran, who owns the station, and his daughter.  They are suffering from the nefarious activities of the local big cheese (Cliff Robertson) to take over all the land in the city and turn it into to some quasi- Posse Comitatus haven for “patriots.”  By beating or killing some of the town’s hillbillies (in self-defense), Malone soon runs afoul of the town sheriff who is basically an employee of the developer.  By the end of the film, though, he eventually wins the Sherriff’s respect.  Starting with the most inept of the sinister henchmen, Malone is gradually drawn into the town drama until he achieves his final pyrotechnic victory and moves on—like Minfune’s Yojimbo or Eastwood’s man with no name.

Meanwhile, the CIA is none too pleased to hear of Malone’s intended retirement and sends a succession of hit-men after him to ensure that he divulges none of their dirty secrets.  Malone destroys the first two killers at some cost to his own well-being.  The next assassin turns out to be a woman who is susceptible to his charms.

As we know from Sharkey’s Machine, Reynolds is actually not a bad actor when he’s not trying to be “a good old boy” all the time.  Cliff Robertson goes eerily over the top while Lauren Hutton is beautiful, brave and loyal (and I would expect nothing less).  So what do we do with the formulaic movie clearly made by Reynolds because he needed the money?  There is nothing evidently wrong with the film—it doesn’t look low budget, everyone seems to play their parts and get their lines straight.  My advice to you is to enjoy it for what it is a damn good bad movie.


Posted by on March 25, 2011 in Movie Reviews


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12 responses to “Here is our third and final installment of our tribute to Burt Reynolds: “Malone” (1987).

  1. DR H

    March 25, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    Malone was not at all a bad movie considering the the stuff they are churning out day in day out. It had a sincerity of production like a solid high school production with limited resources and experience but a lot of heart. The action scenes were passable although low tech even for the mid 80’s but atleast people talked to each other instead of grunting and there was some human element. The only thing I feel let the movie down was its insipid soundtrack and background score.


    • jpfmovies

      March 26, 2011 at 11:34 am

      Not a bad response, but I did say it was a good bad movie. Especially when you compare it to say our previous look at Sharkey’s Machine where Reynolds was not playing to the Good Old Boy image he had made for him self with Smokey and the Bandit et al. I mean let’s face it Sharkey had a decent story, great cast and some fine action scenes. Malone’s plot was pretty thin, the cast (except Lauren Hutton) was marginal at best and even Reynolds performance looks like it was phoned it. I like the movie don’t get me wrong, but I think what had happened was that Reynolds had put himself in a position where people were expecting more out of him than he could give at the time. I did not get out the proverbial urine cup on this film–anyone who has looked at my past “unfavorable” reviews knows that if it junk, I don’t hesitate to say it i.e. The Postman & Passenger 57 are two examples when I think a movie is a bad movie and this one was a good bad movie.


  2. Lurking fan

    March 25, 2011 at 11:03 pm

    I was kind of depressed by this movie, to tell you the truth. Oh well. And Pam and I are completely stumped by your challenge, Dr. H, but we’re working on it…but I wanted to post today because I ran across this short comedy film festival story:
    Maybe Dr. H’s next chance to shine? after his Oscar prediction sweeps?


    • jpfmovies

      March 26, 2011 at 11:35 am

      Don’t worry the next one is coming out of left field I assure you.


  3. jpfmovies

    March 26, 2011 at 11:36 am

    Oh yeah & I will check out the comedy film fest. You guys have inspired me to become more creative. Thanks for that.


  4. Dr H

    March 27, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    Oh, by the way, I don’t think Jude saw my review for that awful movie Battle LA. That is why he thought I was hibernating.


  5. Will Silver

    March 28, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    Never saw his one either but it sounds pretty fun. I loved Stick when I was about thirteen so maybe I can tap into that if I end up checking this out.

    On another note, Dr. H’s Battle LA review was pretty much the sole deciding factor for me to not go see it…


    • jpfmovies

      March 29, 2011 at 6:54 pm

      It is good to have you back Silver–I had the one and only person I truly consult in movie facts/overall presence we will call him SS for short and he wanted Stick too. I went with Malone because I thought it was not as well known. Have not seen too much from you lately for a while you were doing 2 per day! Real life got you tied up? Decided to do another tribute to Rip Torn–any suggestions?


      • Will

        March 30, 2011 at 8:02 am

        I’m still doing at least 2 or 3 a week. When I switched to my own hosting the email notification list got wiped out, so maybe that’s why it seems like I’ve stopped. I can add you back on if you want, so you get the emails again.


  6. DR H

    March 29, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    You made the right decision, Will!
    I feel like I have saved humanity from a celluloid mayhem. Future generations will write volumes about my sacrifice. Sacrifice is the right word because I had to reenact that monstrosity .


    • Will

      March 30, 2011 at 8:04 am

      All hail Dr. H!



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