My Five Fave Steve Martin Films and Newman’s Puff Piece in AARP

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I’ve probably seen most of his films (some several times), bought and read most of his books, watched him do magic (on YouTube) as the Great Flydini, bought and listened endlessly to his Rare Bird Alert with the Steep Canyon Rangers and saw him perform live here in Bayfront Park (fab show) and even went out of my way to see a Rubber Chicken Theater performance of his play Picasso at the Lapin Agile (great fun), so when I saw his longtime familiar face on the cover of the recent AARP magazine it was an easy thing to invest a few minutes to see what new thing was cooking with this versatile artist’s life.

The article inside was titled Steve Martin’s Journey to Happiness and it’s penned by a Judith Newman, my pen name because it’s easier to get published as a woman these days. Just kidding. Though I did have a cousin Judy and a couple aunts named Judy, Judith Newman is no relation. (Judith, if you read this, can you tell me if your genealogical roots run through Kentucky?)

It’s a fun read, in part because Mr. Martin just has to be a fun guy to write about. She begins her piece like this:

Of course, Martin didn’t exactly vanish when he ditched the throngs lining up to see his arrow-through-the-head bit. He went on to try his hand in movies — as one of the preposterous ¡Three Amigos!; as a frantic father of the bride; as a heroic modern-day Cyrano. He has also written novels, recorded bluegrass albums with Edie Brickell and toured the country playing banjo with the Steep Canyon Rangers band. Oh, yes, he’s written plays, too — including a new comedy about marriage, Meteor Shower.

But recently, Martin decided to return to his roots. He has been touring the country with his longtime friend Martin Short — a fellow Amigo — in a show called An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life; stand-up comedy, banjo music and sharp frenemy ribbing onstage.

My favorite sentence in story was this one: Martin looks virtually the same as he did 30 years ago — “the charm,” says Short, “of looking 70 when you’re 30.”

Here’s why (that sentence jumped out for me): My brother Ron’s hair also turned white when he was 30. Ron, now a professional psychologist of three decades, had had an extremely stressful year as a live-in counsellor in a delinquent boys home, a stint that was neither fun nor funny, verifying first-hand that a person’s hair can literally turn grey overnight. Like Martin, Ron also does magic and has a big heart. And like Martin, he seems ageless.

Here’s the link again to the interview by Judith Newman.

Five favorite Steve Martin films

Saturday Night Live, his film The Jerk and numerous guest appearances on the Johnny Carson Show all contributed to making him a household name. Here are five Steve Martin films that have been especially meaningful to me.

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Dirty Rotten Scoundrels with Michael Caine When this film came out in theaters I feeling down in the dumps about something or other and decided to go with my friend Ed (“Two ‘Eds are better than one,” they say.) We both laughed so hard that our cheeks were sore from laughter. Have watched it numerous times over the years, in both video and DVD formats.

Roxanne with Darryl Hannah

This film is a modern re-telling of the classic play by Edmund Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac. In a completely original way Martin re-creates the heart and wit of Rostand’s Cyrano, which addresses the issue of what really matters in love, is it what’s on the inside or outside that counts most? Rostand’s play produced an epiphany for me when I read it in high school and discovered that classic lit was created to be entertaining for readers (and theater goers.) It opened up whole new worlds.

Planes, Trains & Automobiles with John Candy

Anyone who travels a lot, especially business travel, will appreciate all the subtle and not-so-subtle features in this film. With many memorable scenes, I never tire of seeing it again. I had a co-worker who watches this film every year at Thanksgiving. If you’ve seen the film you will know why.

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Bowfinger with Eddie Murphy Martin is head of Bowfinger International Productions. Eddie Murphy plays two hilarious characters. The film is a romp, incorporating all the classic Hollywood cliches and twists, steeped in Steve Martin’s trademark wit. It makes me smile just to write this. Hilarious, especially the trailer for the sequel.

L.A. Story with Victoria Tennant and Sarah Jessica Parker

This romantic comedy is yet another example of Martin’s originality, creativity and wit. Absurd premise meets classic romance, love triangles and heart. Have returned to this one numerous times over the years. Need a break from the mundane? Enjoy.

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Meantime, life goes on all around you…. Engage it.

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An avid reader who writes about arts, culture, literature & other life obsessions. @ennyman3 Look for my books on Amazon

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