Individually, the performances in this story of three generations of Hollywood stuntmen are a delight. And Hal Needham’s direction and stunt staging are wonderfully crafted.
But it’s the ensemble work of Burt Reynolds, Jan-Michael Vincent, Sally Field and Brian Keith, with an able assist from Robert Klein, which boosts an otherwise pedestrian story [by Walt Green and Walter S. Herndon] with lots of crashes and daredevil antics into a touching and likable piece.
Reynolds, in a further extension of his brash, off-handed wise guy screen persona, plays the world’s greatest stuntman. He took over that position 20 years back from Brian Keith. His status is being challenged by newcomer Jan-Michael Vincent.
To cement a place in the stuntman’s record books, Reynolds must perform one last stunt, in this case a 325-foot jump in a jet-powered car over a collapsed bridge. All this is to take place in a film, The Spy Who Laughed At Danger, some sort of a disaster James Bond type picture being directed by the deliciously obnoxious Klein.
Besides the final jump over the bridge, Needham and stunt coordinator Bobby Bass have arranged a smorgasbord of stunts – car crashes, barroom brawls, chariot races, helicopter jumps and motorcycle slides.
1978: Nomination: Best Sound