Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Baldwin & Martin’s Laugh-In (And weekly notes)

So, Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin are to host the Oscars. Well, that’s almost interesting. Actually, there is something mildly intriguing about the fact that Dr Hfuhruhurr and Mr Conductor are now being flung together as a double act. Note …

Fri, Nov 6, 2009, 19:56

   

So, Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin are to host the Oscars. Well, that’s almost interesting. Actually, there is something mildly intriguing about the fact that Dr Hfuhruhurr and Mr Conductor are now being flung together as a double act. Note how the reports take it as read that Steve and Alec are equally famous and equally respectable. This constitutes quite an achievement for Mr Baldwin and — depending upon your view of Alec’s standing — a potential source of worry for Steve and his current face.

YouTube Preview Image

We first heard of Baldwin back in the early 1980s when, as a member of the Knots Landing company, he blazed trails for an array of similarly boxy brothers — Billy, Danny, Stevie, Dozy, Beaky, Mick, Titch — who massed together to form a kind of collective punching-bag for the world’s film writers. You remember how it went. “Why, sir, the only thing this film requires to complete its wretchedness is a few Baldwins about the place. Har, har.” He got caught up in a messy marriage with Kim Basinger and appeared in  movies that were so forgettable I can’t be bothered to make fun of them.

Meanwhile, Steve Martin was  maintaining his position as the world’s greatest Kafka-reading, banjo-playing, prematurely-greying quasi-physical comedian. Baldwin flashed his teeth at various inflatable nonentities in Knots Landing. Martin raised proper laughs in The Man With Two Brains and Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid. If, at any point in the following decade, you suggested that Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin were similarly prestigious celebrities you would have been laughed down Sunset Boulevard, out across the desert and back home to Kansas.

Yet here we are. Once Baldwin realised that, rather than an only modestly good-looking lead, he was an unusually handsome character actor, he powered forward and became the chap every star wants lurking over his shoulder. He was nominated for an Oscar for his role in The Cooler and picked up two Emmys for 30 Rock. A mere five years ago, in Team America World Police, Kim Jong Il noted that “Arec Bardwin is the greatest actor in the worrd” and we all laughed. Now, though he is far from achieving that honour, the joke doesn’t seem quite so funny.

Martin’s recent films have included Pink Panther 2, Cheaper by the Dozen 2 and Bringing Down the House. Actually, come to think of it, it’s Baldwin who should now be outraged that the two men are regarded as equals. It’s a cruel business.

In other news, the film of the week is The Men Who Stare At Goats. It’s a flawed piece of work, but, thanks to Mr Clooney, it remains diverting throughout. A great many critics liked Bright Star but, the nice Flake-ad photography noted, I found it a little bit thin.

This week Screenwriter is listening to: Tarot Sport by F**k Buttons. Thump, thump, thump. Crunch!

This week Screenwriter will be watching the following telly: The Thick of It. Some people (inevitably) think it’s “gone off”. Not me.

Oh and, yes, as at least one reader pointed out, there is an error in the quiz. See if you can find it.

Sign In

Forgot Password?

Sign Up

The name that will appear beside your comments.

Have an account? Sign In

Forgot Password?

Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In or Sign Up

Thank you

You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.

Hello, .

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

Thank you for registering. Please check your email for the activation code.

We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 10 days from the date of publication.