Shamus McCoy

Created by Barry Beckerman

Burt Reynolds plays Burt Reynolds who plays a former pool hustler-turned New York private eye and barfly SHAMUS McCOY in 1973's Burtsploitation flick Shamus, a confused film that can't decide if it's fromage or hommage.

So they try to have it both ways. There's a lot of smirky, wink-wink humour, and more than a few shots of Burt in all his hairy-chested glory, just in case a few moviegoers had missed his recent centerfold spread. But they also tossed in just enough story to make it interesting.

Down on his luck, with a taste for women, drink and gambling, McCoy agrees to an offer of $10,000 to track down some diamonds stolen in a daring robbery that involved a flame-thrower is too good to miss. Along the way, he manages a sly wink at the opening credits of Harper, and does a dead-on spoof of the bookstore scene from Howard Hawks' The Big Sleep, updated fot the seventies. Joe Santos gets to do a rehearsal as a decent but P.I.-plagued cop and family man, a role he would soon be milking regularly, as Sgt. Dennis Becker on The Rockford Files. Oh, and along the way, Reynolds gets to chat up Dyan Cannon, so the film does have its bright moments.

Dated, but sorta fun, and it did well enough to prompt a novelization and, eventually, an attempt at a TV series via a made-for-television movie in 1976, entitled A Matter of Wife... or Death. Naturally, Reynold, by then a big shot movie star, wasn't available, but the always dependable Aussie actor Rod Taylor slipped into McCoy's gumshoes just fine, by most accounts. Also along for the ride were Anne Archer, Larry Block (no, not that Larry Block), Rockford's Joe Santos (playing a cop, of course), John Colicos and future Wonder Woman Lynda Carter, who had a small part as McCoy's girlfriend Zelda, and sure knew how to wear his boxing robe well.

Unfortunately, by 1976, private eyes on the tube were a dime a dozen, and the film, intended as a pilot for a future series, slipped through the cracks.


  • SHAMUS...Buy the video...Buy the DVD
    (aka "Passion for Danger")
    (1973, Columbia)
    106 minutes
    Written by Barry Beckerman
    Directed by Buzz Kulik
    Music by Jerry Goldsmith
    A Robert M. Weitman Production
    Starring Burt Reynolds as SHAMUS McCOY
    Also starring Dyan Cannon, John P. Ryan, Joe Santos, Georgio Tozzi, Ronald Weyland, Larry Block, Beeson Carroll, Kevin Conway, Kay Frye, John Glover, Merwin Goldsmith, Melody Santangello, Irving Selbst, Alex Wilson



    (1976, NBC)
    Made-for-television movie/pilot
    Premiere: April 10, 1976
    Based on characters created by Barry Beckerman
    Written by Don Ingalls
    Directed by Marvin Chomsky
    Produced by Robert Weitman
    Starring Rod Taylor as SHAMUS McCOY
    Also starring Anne Archer, Dick Butkus, Larry Block Joe Santos, Lynda Carter

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith, and thanks to Billy Lucas for the lead.

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