Merry Christmas! It seems only appropriate on the day that celebrates the birth of our Lord that we post about Burt Reynolds. Acting since the 1950s, Reynolds became a bonafide worldwide star in the early 1970s with films such as DELIVERANCE (1972), SHAMUS (1973), WHITE LIGHTNING (1973), and THE LONGEST YARD (1974). Reynolds was so in demand at that time that in 1975 he accomplished a feat few screen actors have ever achieved - he had two films from two separate studios open on the same day...and both were hits! Yes, today we celebrate the box office birthdays of HUSTLE and LUCKY LADY, both of which came out forty years ago on Christmas 1975.
Hackman autographed pic to Burt recently sold at auction that reads
"I generally only have one finger down my throat but this picture needs 4."
Now the race was on - Paramount was handling HUSTLE and Fox was ushering out LUCKY LADY. And, as mentioned before, they both were aiming for Burt fanatics’ wallets on Christmas Day (HUSTLE did open in L.A. on December 17). Surprisingly, LUCKY LADY was the bigger hit of the two, bringing in $12.69 million in U.S. rentals (roughly a haul of $25 million at the U.S. box office). That is surprising as in the 40 years since LADY has become the more obscure of the two (thanks mostly to Fox refusing to put the film on VHS in the ensuing decades). HUSTLE did almost as well, hustling up $10.39 million in rentals (roughly $20 million). Accordingly, both films placed in the top 20 of the year’s box office hits. Amazingly, Reynolds had another big hit with W.W. AND THE DIXIE DANCEKINGS (1975) earlier that year in May. 1975: It was a good time to be Burt.