Tag Archives: Burt Reynolds

My Thoughts on: The Cannonball Run (1981)

Thanks to my parents, I grew up watching a lot of older films, including a lot of comedies of the screwball variety. One of these is a film that I enjoy to this very day, and that is The Cannonball Run, a film that is fantastic not just because it’s hysterically funny, but also because it’s based on something that actually existed. The Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash was an actual (unsanctioned) race run five times between 1971 and 1979, and just as in the film, one team actually used an ambulance as their race vehicle.

Let’s start from the beginning: The Cannonball Run is based on the aforementioned real-life race and follows a gaggle of racers as they all seek to reach the finish line first by whatever means necessary. Aside from the comedic hijinks, this film is also notable for having an all-star cast, including such names as Burt Reynolds, Dom DeLuise, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Jackie Chan (in his second Hollywood appearance), Roger Moore, Jamie Farr, and Farrah Fawcett, just to name a few. It’s not often you see so many stars in the same film at the same time, and it makes for hysterically funny comedy more often than not.

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An additional comedic factor is how poorly thought out some of the racer’s plans to win are. For example, the team of JJ McClure and Victor Prinzi (Reynolds and DeLuise) light on the seemingly brilliant idea of racing in a souped-up ambulance (reasoning that no one would want to stop an ambulance running with lights and sirens on). However, the drawback is that wherever they go, people assume they’re the real thing and want them to stop and help people who’ve gotten hurt. Similarly, the team of Blake and Fenderbaum (Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr.) get the brilliant idea to disguise themselves as priests, not realizing that 1) priests typically aren’t seen driving in a Ferrari and 2) Blake is an incurable womanizer and…well, I don’t really need to explain why that’s a problem for their cover now do I?

The film jumps back and forth between a number of the racers as they make their way across the country, but the story largely focuses on McClure’s team (and their various misadventures). Several teams even have their own unique musical themes to let you know who’s who in a hurry. For example, Jamie Farr’s character (a ridiculously wealthy sheik), is made known by an almost obnoxious Arabian-like theme. And Roger Moore’s theme, funnily enough, is a riff on the James Bond theme (the filmmakers really couldn’t mention Bond by name so they spoofed the character in every way without actually uttering the Bond name).

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Some trivia to keep in mind during the film:

-The ambulance driven in the film is the actual ambulance that appeared in the 1979 real-life Cannonball race (it didn’t make it however, as the transmission blew in Palm Springs, CA).

-Every time we revisit Roger Moore’s character, there’s a different woman in the car with him.

I really enjoy The Cannonball Run, and if you haven’t seen it before, you definitely need to check it out, it’s really funny (and they just don’t make movies like this anymore).

Let me know what you think about The Cannonball Run in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

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All Dogs Go to Heaven “You Can’t Keep a Good Dog Down” (1989)

After literally digging his way out of the city pound (the canine equivalent of prison), Charlie (Burt Reynolds) and his long-suffering best friend Itchy (Dom DeLuise) make their way back to the casino that Charlie used to run with Carface (Charlie’s name is conspicuously scratched out on all the signs). All of the dogs are shocked to see Charlie, since apparently he was meant to be “on death row” (scheduled to be euthanized if I had to take a guess). Charlie doesn’t have a clue that it was Carface who set him up to be taken away in the first place, he’s too busy enjoying his freedom. As Charlie explains (with Itchy’s help), nothing is ever going to keep this dog down!

 

Why settle for a couple of bones when you can have the whole bank?”
Oh you can’t keep a good dog down (No sir)
No you can’t keep a good dog down
I’ve seen pain and hurt, I’ve eaten dirt (That’s true)
It’s hard to buy but even I have been jilted by a skirt (He lies)
But look out, I’m still around
Cause you can’t keep a good dog down

Ya can’t keep a good dog down (No you can’t)
No no no no, you can’t keep a good dog down
I’ve been bought and sold
He’s been warm and cold
But ten to one I’ll still be runnin’ rackets when I’m old
Not in some cage in the city pound
Cause you can’t keep a good dog
Can’t keep a good, I say you can’t keep a good dog down

In him’s the luck of the Irish
The pride of the German
And even a bit of Siam
Siam? You see the come of the English
The charm of the Spanish
A pedigree certainly ain’t what I am
So call me a mixed up pup
(You’re a mixed up pup)
But the only way this pup knows is up
Ya can’t keep a good dog down
Ya can’t keep a good dog down

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I need to talk about this verse before we move on to the rest of the song. I nearly fell over in shock when Itchy did the line “And even a bit of Siam” complete with a bowl on his head and a faux Asian face (granted it’s not as extreme as older Asian stereotypes, but still!) The reference to Siam is not a problem in and of itself as the film takes place about 4 months before Siam became Thailand (while only the year 1939 is given, Carface later mentions Mardi Gras which takes place in February). No, my problem is that in a film made in the late 1980s, they thought it was okay to include a racist, Asian stereotype. That is not okay!

This concludes my rant, now back to the song:

He’s been fat and thin
I’ve been out and in
He tried a life of virtue
But prefer a life of sin
So tonight when we own this town
I’ve known hunger, I’ve known thirst
Lived the best and seen the worst
But the only way I know to finish best to finish first
So watch out when you hear this sound
Cause you can’t keep a good dog, no ya
Can’t keep a good, I say you can’t keep a good dog down
You can’t keep a good dog down!

Burt Reynolds and Dom DeLuise were friends for many years and you can really feel a solid dynamic between them as they perform this song. The song makes it clear that Charlie is popular, charismatic and a confirmed crook (the last verse even mentions “He tried a life of virtue but prefer a life of sin” It’s not wonder Charlie is so nervous about judgement once he arrives in Heaven). I also noticed that despite being a dog, Charlie acts remarkably human during this scene (in that he stands and performs on two legs). Most of the time Charlie gets around like a regular dog, but this is a noticeable exception (sometimes I wonder if Bluth originally meant to make the dogs more anthropomorphic and then changed his mind).

The Siam moment aside (do let me know what you think about that in the comments), “You Can’t Keep a Good Dog Down” provides a rousing musical start to the film. Which is good because the story only gets darker from here (at some point I’ll write some articles pointing out all the Nightmare Fuel aspects of this film). In the meantime, let me know what you think about “You Can’t Keep a Good Dog Down” in the comments below and have a great day! Thanks for helping the blog reach 650 followers!

See also:

All Dogs Go to Heaven “Let Me Be Surprised” (1989)

All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 “It Feels so Good to be Bad!” (1996)

Disney/Dreamworks/Pixar/etc. Soundtracks A-Z

Become a patron of the blog at: patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook

All Dogs Go to Heaven “Let Me Be Surprised” (1989)

After being murdered by his supposed friend and business partner Carface, Charlie B. Barkin (Burt Reynolds) is shocked to find himself in the Hall of Judgement being looked after by Annabelle (Melba Moore), an angelic whippet. Having been a criminal most of his life, Charlie fears judgement, but Annabelle assures Charlie that “all dogs go to heaven” because dogs are naturally loyal and good (she clearly doesn’t know Charlie in the slightest). Annabelle further explains that Charlie has to be dead because the watch representing his life has stopped and that “no one can EVER go back.” Charlie, used to the thrills of being a criminal, is instantly stifled by the utopian atmosphere of heaven, where (according to Annabelle) there are never any surprises. Charlie doesn’t like this one bit and this is the set up for “Let Me Be Surprised.”

I need Brazil
The throb, the thrill
I’ve never been there, but someday I will!
Adventure and danger, love from a stranger
Let me be surprised!

Today there’s sun; they said there’d be snow
When all’s said and done
It’s fun not to know!
What keeps my heart humming, is guessing what’s coming
Let me be surprised!

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Oh! Ain’t it great
Annabelle: (Ain’t it great?)
Charlie: When fate makes you wait?
The world seems mirthless
And you feel worthless
Then suddenly,
There’s a big bone on your plate!

Annabelle: Oh, Charlie, please remember
Down there’s a world of used cars,
And singles’ bars,
Broken dreams,
And out-of-reach stars!
Charlie: But, it isn’t over
Not for this Rover

As Charlie keeps Annabelle distracted, he locates the watch that represents his life and begins to wind it up (having previously asked if he could do just that to keep his life going). It doesn’t take the whippet long to notice and she doesn’t like what she sees one bit!

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I don’t like to steal (Ha, ha!)
But I don’t buy this deal
In ’bout 3 seconds, she’ll have realized (Ha, ha!)
And she’s gonna be…
Annabelle: Charlie, what are you doing?
Charlie: Wait’ll you see!
Annabelle: What’s that you have behind your back?
Charlie: She’s gonna be…
Annabelle: Charlie, don’t wind that watch!
Charlie: Surprised!
Annabelle: CHARLIE!

The moment the watch starts ticking again, Charlie is unceremoniously ejected from Heaven with Annabelle mournfully shouting after Charlie “You can never come back…” Apparently, the penalty for extending your life (or “stealing life” might be the better term) is going straight to Hell the next time you die. That’s why, for most of the remaining story, Charlie will do just about anything to make sure that watch keeps ticking. Of course that all changes once he really gets to know Anne-Marie (Judith Barsi), but that’s a story for another day.

It really shows how selfish Charlie is when he’d rather go back to Earth than stay in Heaven. I really don’t think he counted on being sentenced to Hell for going back though, he just wanted to be alive a little longer. What do you think about “Let Me Be Surprised”? Given how dark this movie can get (it IS a Don Bluth film after all) this whole sequence is surprisingly lighthearted (except for the part where Annabelle happily says “Welcome to being dead”). Let me know what you think about this song in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

All Dogs Go to Heaven “You Can’t Keep a Good Dog Down” (1989)

All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 “It Feels so Good to be Bad!” (1996)

Disney/Dreamworks/Pixar/etc. Soundtracks A-Z

Become a patron of the blog at: patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook