Sharing Steve :: New Stuff
Saturday, November 13, 2004

Compliments from the Critics

Daily Variety
November 12, 2004, Friday
Martin's memorable moments

Peter Rainer, chairman of the National Society of Film Critics, spoke to Lawrence Christon and commented on a few of his favorite Steve Martin films.

"Pennies From Heaven"

"It was his second film after 'The Jerk' and it's amazing that he put himself in that picture, for what people expected ---happy feet, slapstick. It's a dark, Depression-era movie with allusions to Edward Hopper paintings and Walker Evans photos, which reflect his interest in art. It seemed an aberration in his career and his TV comedy arrow-in-the-head persona. But it makes more sense, once you look over his entire body of work. He showed a serious side, and played an unsympathetic character --- all while learning to tap-dance for the role. It's altogether an amazing movie. His part was quite daring, a hollow man playing in almost a kabuki aspect, stylized, passionate, yet small. For the first time we saw the nightmarish flip side to all his frenetic, manic comedy."

"All of Me"

"One of the most amazing comic performances of character within character. It wasn't just a stunt; you could see him inhabiting character beyond shtick. You look at him and think of Buster Keaton. There was something soulful and mysterious about Keaton that made him archetypal."

"The Man With Two Brains"

"A great silly comedy that's underrated. Gordon Willis shot it and gave it an unusual look for a dumb comedy. Martin plays a mad scientist type, Doctor Hfuhruhurr and he keeps changing the pronunciation himself. I think it's a hoot, especially the scene where he takes this brain out in a rowboat, rapturously in love with it. It's not just a parody. He brings too much intensity to the character and he doesn't settle for an easy joke. Again, it's a little frightening in a way. There's something closed off about Martin, shunted from full view, something bottled up inside him, like he's ready to explode. When it emerges, it's like something inside him throttles him and needs to get out."


"I think this is his best movie, beautifully directed by Fred Schepisi. It brought out an ardent quality more than any other film he's made. His feelings come out with a real purity. Playing romance and comedy at the same time is very hard to do. Cary Grant is one of the few who could manage it, but Martin gave his most beautifully physical comic performance and it was deeply touching. You saw the longing in his eyes and a way he used his body in harmony with his surroundings. It was one of the pure calisthenic pieces of film acting."


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