" I wanted to do 'Hooper' as an action-packed tribute to aging stuntmen and the young turks replacing them. When guys list the top five, it's always the same....Yakima Canutt, Jack O'Mahoney, Davey Sharp, Hal Needham and Dar Robinson. But not necessarily in that order." Burt Reynolds.
On the surface Hooper is nothing more than another Burt Reynolds vehicle full of fast cars, drunken bar fights and wild hi-jinks. It's the story of an aging Stuntman trying to keep up with the younger, fresh blood of an industry that destroys bodies and ruins marriages.
A closer examination will reveal a timeless story and out standing performances from the likes of Burt Reynolds, Sally Field, Jan-Michael Vincent and Brian Keith. The chemistry and dialogue these actors share and inject into their characters makes this one of the best Reynolds movies of the time.
Released in 1978, Hooper follows the story of the title character, Sonny Hooper (Burt Reynolds). He's the Best stuntman in the business and does the job right, on time, and safely. Unfortunately for Sonny, newcomer Ski (Jan-Michael Vincent) is doing bigger stunts and getting his jobs. Ski is a younger man, new to the industry and although he is bold and fearless, he doesn't have the common sense to know when something is too dangerous.
The film progresses pretty much as you would expect for a buddy film. At first the two are at odds and compete. They play dirty tricks on each other and attempt to do the other in. As we move towards the climax however, they start to co-operate and eventually discover what we knew all along, they make the perfect team. To spice things up, Sonny is romantically involved with Gwen Doyle (Sally field, you'll remember her as Frog from Smokey and the Bandit), the daughter of his mentor and father figure, Jocko (Brian Keith).
Stuntmen are a wacky crowd, and this troupe of actors conveys their exploits well. Although to be honest, I've never known any stuntmen, this is how I think they would pass their free time. For fun, why not attach a steel cable to a motorcycle rider’s belt and watch as he nearly breaks his back riding off. HAH! Bar fights, are they still an American tough guy standard? I don't know lets trash this bar and find out. What ribald fun!
Stuntmen can solve problems in unique ways. When you're driving up the coast on the 101 and you want to pass some beer to your buddy in the other vehicle, what do you do? You can't just throw it through the open window, especially if it's open. The only clear solution is to speed up, hit the parking brake, and throw it into reverse before releasing the brake. Now you're going really fast in reverse, and you can pass beer through the open window to the other driver!.
Hooper isn't high art and I don't think anyone ever believed it would be, but is fun. The character chemistry is outstanding and the dialogue is memorable. This is one of my favorite films to watch on a Saturday afternoon. Watch out for some great cameos from Terry Bradshaw and Adam West.
Burt Reynolds .... Sonny Hooper
Jan-Michael Vincent .... Ski Chinski
Sally Field .... Gwen Doyle
Brian Keith .... Jocko Doyle
John Marley .... Max Berns
Robert Klein .... Roger Deal
James Best .... Cully
Adam West .... Himself
Alfie Wise .... Tony
Terry Bradshaw .... SWAT Commander
Norman Grabowski .... Hammerhead
George Furth .... George Budwell, Humane Society Representative
Jim Burk .... Jimbo
Don 'Red' Barry .... Sheriff
Princess O'Mahoney .... Wanda
My thanks to: