“Isn’t Steve Martin just great?”
This thought enters my mind whenever I see one of his old movies (emphasis on the older ones), pick up a novel he wrote, or simply hear about him in the news. I just finished tearing through The Pleasure of My Company, and it’s wonderful.
I’m impressed with the fact that Martin has stayed relevant throughout a career that spans four decades now, and that he has in no way remained static. I wanted to take a quick moment just to highlight some of my favorites from the man that is much more than a comedian.
For example, he started his film career with The Jerk, which he both wrote and starred in. Not only is Martin at his personal best here, but the film at large is considered one of the finest comedic efforts of all time. You would think that might cause an actor dismay, but it apparently didn’t faze Martin, who went on to do Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Roxanne, and Planes, Trains and Automobiles. I must also, of course, mention Three Amigos, which I have basically watched once a week from the age of five until now. L.A. Story is the finest of his later films; once again written and starred in by Steve himself, this movie is essential viewing before any visit to Hollywood.
As his movie career has been less stellar in recent years, my enjoyment of Martin’s other work has increased. Because of Pure Drivel, the devestatingly beautiful Shopgirl, and the aforementioned The Pleasure of My Company, I think fiction may be where his talent truly lies. Of course, it doesn’t end there either: Martin is also an accomplished banjoist — dude has won a Grammy for his collection entitled The Crow, played at Bonnaroo and the New Orleans Jazz Festival, and jammed with Earl Scruggs. That’s not just playing around.
On top of all that, Steve Martin has remained remarkably candid and aimiable. This is a guy who has received the Kennedy Center Honors for lifetime achievement in the arts, hosted the Oscars and SNL multiple times, and yet still seems genuine and down to earth. Oh, and of course, if you don’t want to hear any more about Steve Martin from me, you can always get it straight from the source in his memoir, Born Standing Up.