The unabashed romanticism of LA Story, which turns 30 this year, is directly linked to the worldview of its writer and star Steve Martin. He grew up in the shadow of Los Angeles, falling in love with magic and performance in Los Angeles venues and even theme parks. So instead of simply copying the excesses of his hometown in History of Los Angeles, he looked beneath the surface to find his heart.
No one knew what to do with the film when it was released in 1991, but times were kind to the film, now considered part of Los Angeles cinema history. “LA Story” is a vision that combines magical realism, romantic comedy and even Shakespeare with a voice that only Martin could have, “LA Story” finally hits Blu-ray on November 9th, followed by a live script reading. submitted by Film Independent. the 13th of November.
Martin talked about the inspiration for the film, his big heart, modern comedy and the incredible success of his latest series, Murders in the Building, Hulu.
The film finds joy and optimism beneath the surface of Los Angeles. Where did it come from?
I think deep down I am extremely sentimental. Hope this is good. And romance has always meant a lot – the magic of romance. Los Angeles was not so romantic for me, but over time I realized that it has these secret places – we even used them in the film – these beautiful Moroccan courtyards in the middle of Hollywood. It is a charming city if you choose where to go. The idea came when I was driving on the freeway, saw these signs and thought: “What if they talked to me?” The city helped me. The idea that they are all interconnected – not god-like, but guru-like – inspired me to think romantically about the city.
How did Los Angeles define your career and who were you at the time?
Everything good at the beginning of my career happened in Los Angeles, or at least Southern California. It was Knott’s Berry Farm, where I first went on stage for three years, from 18 to 21 years old. It was Long Beach College that changed my thinking so much. I’m not saying that it was a college degree, but I studied a lot and it made me question everything. I can start over. You can throw away everything you know and try to rebuild.
Then there was the Troubadour with all these young artists – Linda Ronstadt, the Eagles, etc. There were practically no comedy scenes. The Comedy Store appeared much later. In fact, there were no places to perform like that, which was actually good for me. I haven’t been around other comedians. There were clubs in Orange County and Los Angeles. And there was a trip that was already romantic. You could get in your car and go somewhere. And, of course, CBS Television, where I got a job at The Smothers Brothers.
All of this influenced my comedy, but the real effect, the biggest influence, I think, on LA Story, the history of LA Story, was poignant Irish music. When I became popular in stand-up comedy, I was very isolated, driving a car. I had a road manager and loved Irish music. I played the banjo and loved the Irish banjo music and I liked the background melodies. And I think this is part of the melancholy. There was one special song, besides all the songs that had such romantic melancholy, called “The Maid of Coolmore”.
When I framed the story for LA Story with elements like Los Angeles and the parody side in mind, I was also framing the romantic side of the story. The song tells the story of a man from Ireland at Coolmore, and he overtakes a young woman three times. The first time he walks past her, he just thinks how cute she is. They look at each other. The second time they talk to each other. But the third time, when he walks past her, she says, “Goodbye,” and he says, “Why?” She says, “Because I’m sailing to America,” which is what many Irish people did in the late 19th century. And he says: “If I had strength on the day when it should sail, I would turn the wind.” This is exactly what happens in The History of Los Angeles. Weather and Los Angeles collude to stop her from leaving.
Earlier this year, you said that “the real history of a film has not been written for 10 years,” so what is the real history of this film after 30? Are there other films in your story in which you feel like the story has changed in ten or more years?
Of course, the Three Amigos. There are films that were good when they came out, but that doesn’t mean they remain good. (Laughs.) But there are films that have remained good, for example, “Dirty Rotten Rascals” or “The Horror Shop”.
When it first came out, this film was a big disappointment for me. I remember Mick Jackson who was the perfect director for this film because he came to Los Angeles with an English look – he provided me and Andrew Dunn, the cameraman, with a lot of mystical, romantic elements. It was almost the only time this movie could have been made, when the romance was positive, when things like that could happen and were happy. After that, there was a lot of cynicism, at least in the music.
So Mick showed me a movie, I sat with four people and watched it in the cinema and I was amazed. I love it. I’ve had so many times in my life when I thought, “This part will kill them.” And then it’s not like that at all. (Laughs) And I thought it was so unusual and different, and people would really respond to it. And then there was a screening that night, and I was waiting outside in my car because I didn’t want the public to see me, but I definitely wanted to be there. An hour and a half later I am at a meeting with the question: “What can we cut out?” (Laughs) So today there is some kind of resonance – this is very good.
Would you like to stick with that original version?
No no. Every movie needs cutting. I’m sorry that nothing was missing. I don’t even remember what was cut – I would have had to watch the script. There is no director’s cut.
Do you think this can be done today? Are we romantic enough for this?
Yes! First, when The Los Angeles Story was filmed, there was only one outlet – theaters. And I’m not even sure there was Betamax. You can now go to the Lifetime Channel! There are so many ways out and ways to find these things. And in a non-competitive way. It used to be that if you show a show on TV and run into a powerhouse, then that show was never seen again. Now you are not participating in competitions. You are only competing trying to say that it is.
This year you made a splash with this word with “Only Murders in the Building”. Why is it the biggest Hulu hit of all time?
(Laughs.) I am very pleased. I am 76 years old. It’s just that no one will get into your life at this time. I had an idea five, six, seven years ago, and I always wanted to do something in the criminal world. I parodied that in Dead Men Don’t Wear a Blanket and things like that. To solve a crime, he engages an audience. Of course he has to be good. This is at the basic level – “Who did it?” And then this weird thing happened when chemistry hit me, Marty. [Short] and Selena [Gomez] – and it turned out that we have a first-class letter. I look at some of these things and think, “Where did this come from?” Good lines, good jokes, good turns. I do not know. I cannot figure it out. Maybe it’s somehow strange, exciting and at the same time comfortable.
Are you reviewing your work?
I can’t stand it. For some reason I can’t. (Laughs.) Maybe I’ll watch the scene. I want everything to be so good. Nothing can fit this really good standard.
Because you see what you would like to change?
This is not it. I just won’t go back.
Who do you watch in comedy?
I’m watching Bill Burr. I love Jerry Seinfeld. I tell him this all the time. But now it’s even older. I do not know. My interest is somewhere else, but I don’t quite know where it is. Do you know what I’m thinking about? When I watch a stand-up, it doesn’t matter if it hurts or not, I imagine it. I go back to the moment when I did it, as if I am identifying too much. These young comedians – I don’t know how they do it. I worked on one action for 18 years. These comedians have an hour, and next year they will need another hour. It’s impossible.