Review: Steve Martin Slips With Funny But Thin Movie Memoir

Review: Steve Martin Slips With Funny But Thin Movie Memoir

Going Number One: My Movie Life and Other Entertainment by Steve Martin with Harry Bliss (Celadon):

Between the covers of this amazingly accurate memorabilia are comic strips drawn from the life of comedian Steve Martin, drawn by cartoonist Harry Bliss. The book is fun and innocent, but ultimately unsatisfying.

It’s a compelling concept: Martin had his first starring role in The Jerk (1979) and revisited it in more than 40 films. But the decision to tell only ten stories from them and skip the rest is disappointing.

Bliss’s graphics feel more like an addition to a standard notebook than an indulgence. More than half of the pages are one-photo cartoons under the title “Other Entertainment”. At least they should laugh enough to complete their mission.

In fact, the funniest moments in Martin’s memoir come from other people. One day her mother called and said, “Last weekend some of our friends went to the movies and couldn’t get anywhere, so they went to see your movie and they loved it!” Director Mike Nichols sums up Martin’s filmmaking: “You always aim low. Actor Michael Caine realized early on who made the real money in Hollywood: actors decorating their homes with their pictures. Van Gogh and Monet were on the walls of the productions.

That’s right – The Number One Walkthrough isn’t without humor, wit, or Martin’s hilarious biography, but it lacks depth. The closest is “I’ve done more than 40 movies and I can’t hold my breath, and here’s why: I thought I had to do 40 movies to get five good movies.”

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We welcome at least one hint of personal and popular triumphs such as Roxanne (1987). These are Martin’s thoughts on the violent musical Penny from Heaven (1981). Fans may wonder why Martin directed 2000s favorites The Pink Panther and A Dozen on the cheap instead of writing an original screenplay for the over-the-top comedy Bowfinger (1999). If someone decided to write a sarcastic summary, they might say, “Lesson number one was the funniest 35 minutes of my life this week. I want to be 45.”


Douglas K. Daniels is the author of Anne Bancroft: A Life (University of Kentucky Press).

Mom put the camera down and saw why she was always tired.

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