Carl Reiner deftly directs Steve Martin playing the dimwitted Navin R. Johnson, the adopted white son of a family of black sharecroppers, who has no idea that he looks different from the people who raised him. After his mother (Mabel King) reveals the truth, Navin sets off to start a new life, receiving his big break from Harry Hartounian (Jackie Mason), who hires him to pump gas. From there, Navin stumbles into a series of increasingly ridiculous situations as this “funny, vulgar, and backhandedly clever” (New York Times) hit roars along. In his first starring role, Martin exhibits every bit of his genius for absurd comedy, and The Jerk, which also features Bernadette Peters, remains one the most sidesplitting films of all time.
Celebrating Carl Reiner
The beloved comedian, actor, director, and writer Carl Reiner (born on March 20, 1922) has enjoyed a career spanning seven decades and many mediums. Reiner wrote for and acted on Your Show of Shows and Caesar’s Hour in the 1950s. In the next decade, he was best known as The Dick Van Dyke Show’s creator, director, producer, writer, and comic straight man (Alan Brady). His extraordinary film successes began in the 1970s, especially in vehicles cowritten with and starring Steve Martin.
And who can forget his performances—with Mel Brooks in “2000 Year Old Man” and in films including The Russians Are Coming, the Russian are Coming (1966) and the Ocean’s series? Carl Reiner has won nine Emmy Awards and one Grammy.
These days, Reiner is busy with many things, including Twitter, where he maintains a lively presence, recently announcing that he “wants to live until 2020 to vote Trump out of office.” We’re thrilled that he’s taking time to join us via Skype during this celebration!