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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Specht

TCM To Celebrate Legendary Funny Man Carl Reiner

Classic film network, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) has put together a special programming tribute for the recently departed, comedic genius Carl Reiner. The collection of films set to air on the evening of July 28 include Where’s Poppa?, All Of Me, and one of my personal favorites,

Oh, God! Watch the network's video salute, TCM Remembers, here.

The remembrance video begins with a shot from one of my favorite movies of all time, The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming! It was my introduction to Carl Reiner. Because of this, I thought he was only an actor. I didn't know he had been cast as a Broadway comedy writer on vacation on the shore of New England because he was a comedy writer - who could act. In fact, he's hilarious as one of the villagers who believe they're under attack by the Russians during a time in American history known as "The Cold War". The all star ensemble cast of comedy stars makes the film a delightful escape, one that reminds one of childhood and innocent family friendly comedies. Unfortunately, The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming! is not included among the films airing in tribute to Reiner's life's work. But there is Oh, God!. Not only is it another title with an exclamation mark (could have been a trilogy if only The Jerk had one), but it's another film that I absolutely adored as a kid, and still do.

Reiner, a legend of American comedy, passed away on June 29 at the impressive age of 98. A quick witted and active man through out his life, Reiner had never retired from acting and was working right up until his death passing away from natural causes. I had the great pleasure of interviewing him within the past few years, and he told me he was working on another book about his favorite classic films. Amazing! The beloved comic actor, director, producer and recording artist achieved great success during his 70 years in the entertainment industry garnering an impressive list of honors including nine Emmy Awards, three as an actor, four as a writer and two as a producer. He also won a Grammy Award for his album "The 2,000 Year Old Man", based on his comedy routine with Mel Brooks. And later was bestowed the Mark Twain prize for American Humor. Not that he sought awards. By all accounts Reiner entertained for entertainment sake, and demonstrated his love for it in everything he ever did.

His prolific professional career began with his position as a sketch comedy writer alongside Sid Caesar and Mel Brooks on Your Show of Shows and Caesar's Hour. It was his time working on that hit television show that inspired him to create one of the most memorable sitcoms of all time, The Dick Van Dyke Show - a show for which he originally intended for himself to star under a different title. But pride did not get in his way of realizing what was best for the show, and that was casting Dick Van Dyke.

His sensibilities led him to branch out into directing and working with many of his closest collaborators on such films as The Comic (with Dick Van Dyke), Dead Men Don’t War Plaid (with Steve Martin), and The Jerk (again with Steve Martin). The last two helped to establish a different kind of comedy. A type that was sillier without being ridiculous, familiar without being old fashioned, and (for the most part) family friendly. Think Zoolander-light, only a little less close to the style of Dumb and Dumber. You know, like the style of his friend Mel Brooks without going so far over the edge. If that leaves you too confused, then you should just watch his movies and form your own opinion, and be prepared to set your bar for comedy greatness at a new level.

In 2018, Carl Reiner and his son, filmmaker Rob Reiner, were honored with the hand and footprint ceremony at the TCL Chinese Theatre® in Hollywood during the eighth annual TCM Classic Film Festival. It marked the first time a father and son were jointly honored with a hand and footprint ceremony.

The following is the complete schedule for TCM's on-air tribute to Carl Reiner on Tuesday, July 28. All times are Eastern:

8:00 p.m. Enter Laughing (1966) – An aspiring actor gets a job with a broken-down theatre company.

10:00 p.m. All of Me (1984) – A lawyer’s body is invaded by the soul of a recently deceased female client.

12:00 a.m. The Comic (1969) – A silent comic’s rampant ego ruins the lives of those around him.

2:00 a.m. Where’s Poppa? (1970) – A New York lawyer deals with an unhinged mother, a peculiar love life and other big city troubles.

3:30 a.m. Oh, God! (1977) – A grocer is selected by God to help spread a message.

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