Since the 2nd season of “Only Murders in the Building” is now done and since I’ve read a few stories that say Steve Martin is considering retiring after the TV series is finished, I decided to have my own little Steve Martin Film Festival recently. 5 movies in 5 nights. Most people would probably choose some of his most popular movies like “The Jerk”, “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid”, “Pennies From Heaven”, “3 Amigos”, or “Father of the Bride” 1 or 2. I decided to go a different way. I chose some of his not so well-known movies.
Day 1 – “L.A. Story” (1991): He stars as a TV weatherman Harris K Telemacher who tries to explain the strange world of Los Angeles in the 1990s to an UK newspaper reporter (Victoria Tennant).
I believe this is the first movie that Steve Martin wrote without a co-writer. Although the movie is a little dated (it’s set in the 90s), there’s several jokes that still apply to modern day L.A. If possible, you should watch the “deleted scenes” for the movie (I watched them on the blu-ray) which shows 2 characters that were cut out of the movie. John Lithgow plays powerful Harry Zell, and Scott Bakula plays a next-door neighbor. There’s even a scene where Steve Martins character says something like “how is my neighbors’ life more interesting than mine?”.
Recommended – 7 out of 10 stars
Day 2 – “My Blue Heaven” (1990): Steve Martin plays Vincent “Vinnie” Antonelli, an Italian New York gangster placed in the witness protection program by FBI agent Barney Coopersmith (Rick Moranis).
There are a few funny moments in the movie. Personally, I think Steve Martin with jet black hair playing an Italian is funny. However, it’s not funny enough for me to recommend.
Interesting fact about this movie: It was written by Nora Ephron who was married to Nicholas Pileggi at the time. Nicholas Pileggi wrote “GoodFellas” which is about a guy who grows up to be a New York gangster. Both movies were released by Warner Bros. “My Blue Heaven” was released in August 1990 and “GoodFellas” was released in Sept 1990 in the US. So, technically “Goodfellas” could be considered an unofficial prequel to “My Blue Heaven”.
6 out of 10 stars.
Day 3 – “The Spanish Prisoner” (1997). Joe Ross (Campbell Scott) is an employee of a corporation with a lucrative secret “formula”. He thinks the company is taking advantage of him by not paying him what he’s worth. When he meets Jimmy Dell (Steve Martin) while on vacation, he considers asking him for advice. However, nothing is what it appears.
I think this may be the only dramatic thriller that Steve Martin has been in. It’s written and directed by David Mamet. The pace of the movie is a little slow at first but it helps build the tension as the story plays out.
Recommended – 7 out of 10 stars.
Day 4 – “Roxanne” (1987). A modern version of the classic Cyrano de Bergerac play. Steve Martin plays C. D. Bales, the head of the small towns fire department. One of the firefighters falls in love with “Roxanne” (Daryl Hannah) who just moved to the town.
This was written by Steve Martin based on the play. He plays the man with the big nose. It has some funny moments but also some moments that fall flat.
5 out of 10 stars.
Day 5 – “Planes Trains and Automobiles” (1987) – Neal Page (Steve Martin) and Del Griffith (John Candy) struggle to get from New York to Chicago in time for Thanksgiving.
I sort of cheated on this last one because this is my favorite Steve Martin movie ever. It’s also my favorite John Candy movie and it’s one of my favorite movies from writer/director John Hughes.
HIGHLY RECCOMMENDED – 9 out of 10 stars.
“Only Murders in the Building” (TV series – 2021- ) – Charles-Haden Savage (Steve Martin), Oliver Putnam (Martin Short), and Mabel Mora (Selena Gomez) all live in the same building and have the same obsession with true crime podcasts. The three of them get caught up in a murder in their building and create their own crime podcast.
The first TV series Steve Martin co-created and co-wrote. It is very well written and keeps you guessing until the end. I love almost every episode of this show so far.
Recommended – 8 out of 10 stars.
For the next two I’m NOT recommending the movies, but I AM recommending the musical number that features Steve Martin:
“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” – the movie inspired by The Beatles album is TERRIBLE even if you’ve never heard of The Beatles. However, there are some bands doing covers of some of The Beatles songs including Steve Martins funny rendition of “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”. Every time I hear the song now, I think of the Steve Martin version, and I have his version of the song on my iTunes playlist. You can watch it on the link below.
“Little Shop of Horrors – Dentist” – I’m not a fan of the “Little Shop of Horrors” story but Steve Martin as the mean dentist is very funny. Especially his opening song at the link below.