"Of interest only as proof of Reynold's bizarre 70's superstardom"
Remember the days when Burt Reynolds could command big-budget vanity projects? (I don't.)Nothing’s more disposable than a dreary and vanity-driven ‘star vehicle’ and 1973’s Shamus is a textbook example. Hoping to coast by solely on the charms of one mega-watt superstar (in this case Burt Reynolds in his heyday), these films present the oldest and hoariest plotlines imaginable, only with any particular year’s ‘flavor of the month’ in the lead role. Call it a product of vanity, laziness, or outright ineptitude, Shamus smacks of transparent showcasing, and if it weren’t for the very presence of Burt this movie would have vanished without a trace.
Relying heavily on the outdated ‘sarcastic gumshoe’ motif, Shamus puts on a lot of airs in relation to being ‘about’ something, but the truth is that the film goes only as far as Reynolds’ inimitable charms. Focus on the script, direction and overall quality of the end product and Shamus is a meandering dud; focus mainly on the performance of Burt and you may just find yourself deceptively entertained for about twenty minutes. Unfortunately, the movie’s over 90 minutes long.
Following a rather abrupt opening (in which two lovers are barbecued by some flamethrower-toting safecrackers), we’re offered an unending credits sequence that offers Reynolds waking up after a nasty bender and wandering around his grimy apartment. One phone call leads him off on a rote adventure: find out who cooked the couple and why.
Reynolds is as loose and charming as ever, which makes the tiresome material he’s given all the more disappointing. The iconic sex symbol was at the top of his game in the early seventies and it’s no secret that Reynolds took fistfuls of jobs just for the cash. Dyan Cannon (Caddyshack 2) pops in intermittently to tease and satisfy our intrepid hero, and eagle-eyed TV freaks will thrill to the appearance of Morris the Cat in a small supporting role. Yes, the REAL Morris the Cat and Burt Reynolds in the same movie. Such high-wattage starpower should be criminal.
Most detective tales are nothing more than ‘point A to point B’ narratives, yet Shamus wears that tired formula firmly on its sleeve. Our hero gets information from stoolie #1, which leads him to location X. The shopkeeper at location X points him toward informant #2. The casual detective dutifully heads from place to place, stopping only occasionally to A) get beat up, B) beat someone up, or C) have sex with a woman.By the time the mysteries are solved, you won’t only be confused; you simply won’t care anymore.