Top 10 Steve Martin Flicks

by Alan Rapp on November 9, 2005

in Essays 

Steve Martin’s newest film Shopgirl opened last Friday, and we’ll have the review for you tomorrow.  To help satisfy your hunger we’ve put this little list together celebrating ten of Martin’s best.  Disagree, think we left something deserving off the list?  Let us know.


It’s almost just as easy to create a worst ten movie list (Bowfinger, Cheaper by the Dozen, Leap of Faith, Bringing Down the House, and The Lonely Guy all come to mind), but we come to honor Steve Martin not to bury hiim.  Here’s the list that was agreed upon (mostly) by the RazorFine staff.


The only thing bigger than Fire Captain C.D.‘s heart is his enormous nose.  Martin carries this updated version of Cyrano de Bergerac as he attempts to woo Daryl Hannah.  My favorite scenes involve Martin defending himself against those who foolishly make fun of his nose, we get a great opening fencing sequence with a tennis racquet and a great bar scene as C.D. proves the point that no one can make more fun out of you than you.  Also great are the incompetent volunteer firemen of the town – who as Martin explains “You can’t have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, ‘Whatever you do, don’t call the fire department!’”

Three Amigos!

Steve Martin is Lucky Day, Chevy Chase is Dusty Bottoms, and Martin Short is Ned Nederlander; together they are the Three Amigos, actors who are mistaken for the heroic saviors they play in silent films and are brought to a Mexican village to deal with the in-famous El Guapo.  The three play off each other as they shoot an invisible horseman, rescue the beautiful Carmen who has been taken hostage, serenade each other in the desert sun down, and become the heroes they have always played on screen.

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

This time Martin teams up with John Candy, in Candy’s best movie role, as an unlikely odd couple trying to get home for Thanksgiving.  The movie gives us wonderful lines such as “You’re going the wrong way!” and “Those aren’t pillows.” as well as a good reminder why you should never throw away your car rental receipt.  Each actor is allowed to play to their strengths as Martin plays the up tight snob to Cany’s laid back slob;  it makes one of the best collaborations of either man’s career and a darn nice Thanksgiving movie to boot.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels:

Martin and Michael Caine play con men who can’t stand each other and decide to place a wager.  Whoever can obtain $50,000 from a young American female is the winner and the loser must leave the island.  Caine plays Martin’s regular role as the straight man allowing Martin to go all out.  Humorous moments abound here, especially the scenes where Martin helps Caine in one of his cons by playing his retarded brother in scenes that will have you rolling around on the floor.

L.A. Story:

Martin plays a weatherman in Los Angeles who searches for happiness and meaning in his life and finds it in the most unlikely of places, including the electronic sign on the L.A. Freeway.  Funny insider look at L.A. with a great cast including Sarah Jessica Parker, Victoria Trent, Marilu Henner, Patrick Stewart, and Kevin Pollack.  A rather difficult movie to explain but an easy one to enjoy that deals with the oddness of life and relationships in a style that I think Woody Allen would truly appreciate.

The Jerk:

Martin’s Navin Johnson is born a poor black child who struggles through life as he leaves home to discover who he truly is and make his own way in the world – the problem is he’s an idiot!  He finds and loses a fortune through the wonderous “Opti-grab”, falls in love, and loses it all.  Somewhat uneven film for his first starring role, but when it’s funny it’s damn funny.  An aptly named dog and Bernadette Peters add to the hilariousness of this moron with a heart of gold (and a brain of swiss cheese).  Remember folks, whatever you do “never trust whitey!”  His first collaboration with Carl Reiner, his second was…

The Man With Two Brains:

Kathleen Turner marries Martin’s Doctor Michael Hfuhruhurr for his money.  Stuck in a affection-less marriage the neurosurgeon stumbles into a strange plot of the elevator killer and into an odd friendship and eventually falls in love with a brain in a jar kept by a mad scientist.  Sound strange?  Well it is but it’s also quite good.  Funny stuff here as Martin is seen romancing a brain in a jar.  A great spoof of mad scientist movies and the plot has been remade in several different forms including Bruce Campell’s Man With the Screaming Brain which is a mix of this movie and…

All of Me:

Lily Tomlin is a dying millionniare who plans to have her soul transplanted into a younger woman.  Through a series of mistakes Steve Martin accidentally becomes her new home.  Martin and Tomlin must co-exist in one body as they try to get her soul into the now unwilling young woman who has inherited all of Tomlin’s fortune.  Funny physical comedy of Martin loosing control over half of his body and the in-fighting between the two of them.  Part mystical, part adventure, and part love story, and although some parts work better than others Martin is wonderful in this tailor made role.

The Spanish Prisoner:

What?  You didn’t think we’d do all comedies did you?  Martin takes a serious turn in David Mamet’s suspense thriller with more twists and turns than your local roller coaster.  Martin again plays a con man, but this time with a much more serious agenda as he attempts to steal Campbell Scott’s secret process that’s worth millions and frame Scott for the theft and murder as well.  Quite a refreshing turn for Martin as the charming but sinister “friend” with his own agenda.


Martin plays architect Newton Davis who is in love with Dana Delany who turns down his proposal of marriage.  In his down and out state he meets Goldie Hawn who plays a liar and con artist who travels back to his hometown and poses as his wife without his knowledge.  On a trip home Martin discovers how much the lie might help him with Dana Delany and in his job and the lies start to snowball from there.  Witty, zany, and fun.

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