Far before Cheaper By the Dozen and far after Little Shop of Horrors, comedian/actor Steve Martin was con man Freddy Benson. Following in the footsteps of considerably more experienced con man Lawrence Jamieson (Michael Caine), the film gave Martin the opportunity to shine unlike any other.
I recall running home after school not to flip on cartoons, but to stuff that clunky VHS tape into the VCR, snuggle in to my mom’s perfectly ’90s corduroy couch, and see Beaumont-sur-Mer’s bright landscape flash before my eyes. This would have been a full 12 years after the film’s release; still, I laughed until I cried.
Unlike movies like Cheaper By the Dozen (both 1 and 2), the humor was organic and poignant. Caine was the catalyst to which Martin flourished as both Freddy and Ruprecht, a character who remains the butt of many of my family’s jokes to this day. It was the smothering accent of Lawrence’s newest conquest, and the doe-eyed personas of the men scamming them; the perfect timing and quick wit. It was Martin’s improvisation as he encouraged us to think as little of Freddy as possible, while unintentionally endearing us to his antics.
We followed the crafty adventures of the bachelor rivals as they ravished the mediterranean paradise, all the while knowing something was off — little did we realize that that something was all-too-innocent Janet Colgate’s absolute corruption.
It was the film that got Caine his Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Comedy, and the reason you know Glenne Headly’s name; it won her the CFCA Awards’ Most Promising Actress honor, after all. While Martin wasn’t acknowledged for his role this time around, it’s sincerely fair to see that snub as a travesty.
Originally intended as the pet project of Mick Jagger and David Bowie, Caine and Martin were brought in as last-minute replacements. But, now that we know them, how could our anti-heros have been any other duo?
Martin performed standup for the first time in a full 35 years at New York’s Beacon Theatre, February 18, 2016. Everyone’s fully riled, thrilled, and hunting down video footage. Fans are really excited about it. Outlets are buzzing.
I’m just stuck here thinking, “Where did I put that VHS?”