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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
Shamus (1972)

Shamus McCoy: Why me? I mean, there's a lot of other very high class detectives around. Why would you pick me?
E.J. Hume: You were not the first idea that came to mind.
Shamus McCoy: Oh. The second, huh?
E.J. Hume: The fifty-third.

- Burt Reynolds, Ron Weyand

Review By: Brian Calhoun   
Published: October 27, 2002

Stars: Burt Reynolds, Dyan Cannon
Other Stars: John P. Ryan, Joe Santos, Giorgio Tozzi, Ron Weyand, Larry Block, Beeson Carroll, Kevin Conway, Kay Frye, John Glover
Director: Buzz Kulik

MPAA Rating: PG for violence, language, brief nudity
Run Time: 01h:38m:20s
Release Date: September 24, 2002
UPC: 043396077584
Genre: action

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C C-CB- D-

DVD Review

Burt Reynolds has been in a career slump for the past twenty years, only showing minimal signs of a comeback with his terrific performance in Paul Thomas Anderson's Boogie Nights. Yet, before Burt entered into these dark times, he was a prominent leading man in the 1970s, dazzling audiences with his action hero physique and broad sex appeal. Does this seem hard to believe? It certainly does when referring to a movie like Shamus.

The film wastes no time in setting up its absurd plot. In an opening scene reminiscent of a Rockford Files episode, a couple are peacefully making love in bed when a man comes crashing through their skylight, toasting them to a crisp with a flamethrower and stealing an expensive stash of diamonds hidden in the bedroom safe. Enter Shamus McCoy (Burt Reynolds), a private investigator with a penchant for binge drinking and one night stands. The opening credits play over a humorous sequence where Shamus awakens from an obvious state of intoxication and stares in disbelief at the naked woman lying on his pool table (which also serves as his bed) as he staggers haphazardly across his barren apartment. After trying to shake off his hangover, Shamus receives a phone call from E.J. Hume (Ron Weyand), the eccentric owner of the stolen diamonds. Hume wants Shamus to investigate the flamethrower case, offering him $10,000 to come up with either the killer or the diamonds. The rest of the film follows Shamus on his detective trail, weaving in and out of dark pool halls and obtaining scraps of information from various informants. Eventually, he is led to a discovery much larger than the stolen diamonds.

Though Shamus is not a good film, it is not an absolute disaster. I did like the sparse use of music, its absence not only heightening the realism of the story but also helping to minimize the dated feel of the picture. I also enjoyed the chemistry between Burt Reynolds and Dyan Cannon. Their relationship evolves throughout the film from opposition to attraction, which is more interesting than just watching them jump into the sack upon their first meeting. Other than these minimal attributes, there is nothing terribly appealing about Shamus. The dialogue is flat, the performances are dull, and the story is carelessly pieced together. The action sequences are unexciting and filled with ludicrous conveniences that insult the intelligence of the audience. Shamus is able to get out of every predicament with the greatest of ease and even dodge bullets simply because he is Shamus.

While the majority of the film is mediocre, the ending proves ridiculous. In addition to a purely laughable action sequence, the tagged on coda is nothing more than a fruitless attempt to add ambiguity as to the possible future of these characters. The problem is, I could not care less what happens to them. Shamus is a mildly amusing detective story, but it has few memorable qualities. It is the type of movie one might watch very late on a sleepless night as a way of simply passing the time. Yet, when someone asks the next morning "What did you do last night?", the reply will more than likely be "I don't remember."

Rating for Style: C
Rating for Substance: C-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Rationo

Image Transfer Review: Shamus is presented in a modified, 1.33:1 aspect ratio. In addition to desecrating the original aspect ratio, the image is somewhat constrictive. The overall presentation looks beat up and old. Film blemishes and graininess are abundant throughout, as are frequent video artifacts. Contrast is nicely balanced between dark and light scenes, but blacks often appear washed out. Though the image transfer is dull, it is the result of a fairly decent restoration effort.

Image Transfer Grade: C


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: The 2.0 mono soundtrack is extremely quiescent, even for monaural. I had to turn the volume up considerably to reach a pleasant listening level. Even at this heightened level I could not detect any sign of low end sound. Dialogue is predominately clear and free from distortion. The soundtrack is locked front and center, providing a natural but uninteresting auditory experience.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Bad Boys, Harry and Walter Go to New York, Snatch
Packaging: Nexpak
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The only extra is a section that contains trailers for three films unrelated to Shamus. Do not attempt to find the Shamus trailer, because it has not been included. Decisions like this just baffle me.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

I can only recommend Shamus to diehard Burt Reynolds fans. Even as a rental, action fans will more than likely find themselves wishing they spent these two hours more constructively.


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