Tag Archives: Carl Reiner

The Set of 400: #249 – My Favorite Prison Tuxedo

Today! Because you can’t have six cards in a five card game –

Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

Directed by Steven Soderbergh

Starring George Clooney (x2), Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts, Andy Garcia (x2), Elliott Gould (x2), Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Carl Reiner (x3), Bernie Mac, Shaobo Qin, Eddie Jemison, Don Cheadle (x2), Topher Grace, Joshua Jackson (x2)

A remake so much better than the original that it’s almost unfair to mention its existence, 2001’s Ocean’s Eleven was the movie that I think everyone assumed Steven Soderbergh could make, but never would. Sure, Out of Sight hits largely the same tone, and with Clooney, too, but it isn’t quite the bustling movie star popcorn extravaganza that this film is. But while in some cases I’ve advocated that a filmmaker winning an Oscar was detrimental to society as a whole – Spielberg’s four year hiatus after Schindler’s List, James Cameron’s everything after Titanic, etc. – Soderbergh’s win for Traffic may have actually freed him up to make something more purely fun, purely Hollywood than we would’ve expected.

And boy did it deliver. Yes, the sequels were underwhelming and unnecessary, straight through to last year’s okay-if-beating-a-dead-mare Ocean’s 8, but the first movie is a dazzling gem of subterfuge and sleight of hand. From Danny Ocean’s first appearance, getting out of jail in a full on tuxedo, this movie is chocked full of style, attitude, and more than a little winking-at-itself humor that totally works. Sure, with a cast this large and accomplished, it’s bound to feel like some folks got a little wasted through lack of use, but they do manage to give everybody just enough character bits and snappy lines to satisfy – for the most part. Continue reading

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The Set of 400: #266 – My Favorite Canine Cover-Up

Today! Because the new phone book’s here! The new phone book’s here!

The Jerk (1979)

Directed by Carl Reiner (x2)

Starring Steve Martin (x3), Bernadette Peters, Jackie Mason, M. Emmet Walsh, Catlin Adams, Mabel King, Richard Ward, Dick Anthony Williams, Bill Macy, Dick O’Neill, Carl Reiner (x2), William Schallert (x2), Carl Gottlieb (x3), Maurice Evans

In the first of four collaborations with Carl Reiner, and his first starring role in a film, Steve Martin broke from his tremendous run as a stand-up comic and legendary Saturday Night Live host to instantly become a giant movie star. His four minute bit in The Muppet Movie six months earlier shouldn’t be overlooked in his rapid progression to film glory, mind you, but The Jerk solidified it for good and all, famously starting the film with the statement “I was born a poor black child.” Continue reading

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The Set of 400: #302 – My Favorite Bullet Removal

Today! Because in my last case, I had to throw my own brother out of an airplane –

Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid (1982)

Directed by Carl Reiner

Starring Steve Martin (x2), Rachel Ward, Carl Reiner, Humphrey Bogart, Alan Ladd, Barbara Stanwyck, Ray Milland, Ava Gardner, Burt Lancaster, Cary Grant (x3), Ingrid Bergman (x3), Veronica Lake (x2), Bette Davis, Lana Turner, Kirk Douglas, Fred MacMurray (x2), James Cagney, Joan Crawford, Charles Laughton, Vincent Price, George Gaynes, William Conrad, Edmond O’Brien

The great pairing of Carl Reiner and Steve Martin produced this noir spoof, intercutting Martin’s detective Rigby Reardon with actors/characters from hard boiled crime films of the ’40s for a new mystery adventure. Almost twenty different films compose Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, including Suspicion, Double Indemnity, The Lost Weekend, The Big Sleep, and #370 Notorious, providing plenty of long-dead screen legends new comic opportunities, and new chances at joining the prestigious Two- and Three-Timers club!

Martin and Ward, as the femme fatale Juliet, make a great straight-faced team, and do all the heavy lifting in the movie, with the only exception maybe being the heroic work of career comedy film editor Bud Molin. The worry about this movie on paper (in retrospect) is how can any of this footage actually be matched up, using 1982 technology? Sure, at the time, it must’ve seemed like this was a possibility, but now – can you imagine hearing about this concept for a movie from 35+ years ago and thinking it would work? Is this the first you’re hearing about this movie, and you’re in some manner of disbelief right now? Well, rest assured, it totally pays off. The movie doesn’t do a lot of complicated inserting of characters into old footage – à la Forrest Gump – instead filming new scenes that function against the existing footage. A lot of it is funny phone conversations, but they’re almost equally effective with same room sequences. And Martin has the patter down, so that the mismatched conversations actually sound like they’re happening – not just in context but in style and rhythm. It’s a hell of an achievement.

It’s also the rare dark-haired Martin role

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