Trailers From Hell. We're still cooped up at home, and now we're missing Carl Reiner, too.
Comedy icon Carl Reiner passed away on June 29th at the age of 98 years. He pulled televised comedy through the '50s and '60s before jumping onto the big screen as an actor, writer and director. It was fitting that a guy who gave octogenarian George Burns his role of a lifetime in Oh, God, had the favor returned by Steven Soderbergh in Ocean's Eleven when he was 79. Reiner played the hell out of the role of Saul Bloom in the trilogy.
A newspaper writer friend of mine told me about meeting Carl Reiner in the '70s at a big event at The Summit in Houston. My friend was in the restroom when Reiner walked in. The conversation at the lavatory was short, but laced with comedy. Reiner apparently thought my friend was the restroom attendant and asked him for a towel. It was one of my friend's prouder brushes with fame.
This week, Trailers From Hell takes a look at Reiner's cinematic side, during breaks from binge-watching The Dick Van Dyke Show. CBS colorized a couple of the shows from the series, including the "Coast to Coast Big Mouth" episode.
Reiner teamed up with Steve Martin on four films, the first being The Jerk in 1979. Besides launching Martin's cinematic career, the film also brought to the popular vocabulary the excitedly shouted phrase, "The new phone books are here! The new phone books are here!" In my circle of friends, that quickly became, "He asked me for a towel! He asked me for a towel!"
Martin's character asks a waiter at a fancy restaurant to forget the 1963 Chateau Latour and bring some fresh wine, "the freshest you’ve got." He also keeps his Château Lafite Rothschild in a water cooler, with wine glasses in the paper cup dispenser. We're not dealing with the most sophisticated wine aficionado here, we're dealing with a jerk. So lets pair a wine that's more affordable than the Lafite, and fresher.
In wine, freshness equals acidity. The Luli Sauvignon Blanc hails from Monterey County and carries a very zippy acidity with it. If you're pairing The Jerk with a jerk chicken recipe, you might want to go with a less acidic wine, maybe Tatomer's Vandenberg Riesling from Santa Barbara County.
In 1969's The Comic, Reiner had a hand in writing, producing, acting and directing. The movie stars Van Dyke as a Keaton-esque movie comedian from the BT era - before talkies. He spends a lifetime trying to recapture his silent slapstick heyday. Van Dyke had long wished for such a role and says that he and Reiner were proud of the movie even though it laid an egg at the box office.
If you are exploring alternative drinking hours during the pandemic, and they begin at breakfast, here's an idea. Reiner appeared in a 1964 print ad for Kahlua, so you might want to grab a bottle and spike your coffee with it. Serve it alongside a mimosa. Oh, yeah, and a breakfast.
The Doris Day/James Garner classic, 1963's The Thrill of It All, was written by Reiner smack in the middle of his successful run on TV with Van Dyke. He also shows up in cameo roles as different characters on a TV show, one of whom causes Day to announce on a live broadcast that she is a pig. She's wrong, of course. Day's character is a mid-century modern housewife, who is launched into a new career shilling for Happy Soap in TV commercials. In today's jargon, she'd probably be a dedicated member of the Mommy Wine culture, with a T-shirt exclaiming that "sippy cups are for Sauvignon Blanc."
Day is the Prosecco of Film, all sweet and bubbly, and you'll be able to find that pairing for cheap. But, for Happy Soap, a Happy wine would be appropriate. Happy Canyon Vineyard is in the warm corner of Santa Barbara County, so they specialize in grape varieties from Bordeaux. Their Piocho Rosé is made from Cabernet Franc, a grape which always makes me happy. They also do a nice Sauvignon Blanc.
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