"He had been acting in theater and on television since the late fifties and had appeared in a dozen movies without creating much of a stir but when, in 1971, he began to appear on talk shows, other guests laughed nervously at hearing behind-the-scenes smart talk in public. But the TV audience enjoyed the dropping of barriers, and Reynolds was on his way. He showed an amazingly fast put-down wit, but he also showed something else, which the TV public was probably ready for: he made a joke of his profession. He came on as a man who had no higher values than the buck and the pleasures of the flesh—exactly what people in the audience had always believed stardom was about. His message was that stars are just bums, and that he himself was an honest, funny, bum—too smart and gamy to give much of a damn about anything except having a good time, and too cocky to lie about it. His message was that he was having a ball being a stud celebrity. The belief is now widespread that the price of success is the loss of privacy, and that the successful person who fights this isn't playing fair. And there's a concurrent belief, almost as widely held, probably, that those rich, lucky people who have become stars—whether of sports, politics, entertainment, or anything else—are out for themselves. Reynolds not only accepted those terms but carried them further. His fun-loving "frankness" seemed the show-business truth, and when he was around, any earnestness looked a solemn fraud. His charm is that of a cheap crook who ingratiates himself by saying, "Look, we're all cheap crooks—why lie about it?"
Pauline Kael The New Yorker
(October 4, 1974)