Carl Reiner, one of the great writers of comedy and Mel Brooks's straight man through all the "2,000-Year-Old Man" routines, co-wrote and directed this interestingly bleak and humorous 1969 tale of a silent-film star whose ego outpaces his considerable talent. Related somewhat Citizen Kane style, the story opens at the funeral of Billy Bright, who narrates his story from the grave: superstardom, a loss of rhythm with the coming of sound film, drinking, womanizing, and a long, awful descent to the end of his life as a bitter, lonely old man. Very loosely based on the life of Buster Keaton (and it should not be equated with him in any great way), the movie flopped at the box office (van Dyke fans who probably expected a Mary Poppins chimney sweep were undoubtedly appalled), but is a minor, unknown classic, with excellent acting by the principals -- sort of Beckett in Hollywood. Steve Allen appears as himself, and Reiner has a "let's do lunch" cameo.
The review of this Movie prepared by David Loftus