Following his critically acclaimed memoir about his years as a comic, BORN STANDING UP, Steve Martin released a second memoir containing stories about his time in the movie business, NUMBER ONE IS WALKING. Rather than taking the same path as his first autobiography, Martin enlisted the help of cartoonist Harry Bliss to produce a sort of graphic novel style retelling of Steve’s years on the silver screen.
I was all set to give this book four to five stars, but unfortunately, Steve’s career in the movies is responsible for less than half of the total page count, which is a real shame as the marketing behind the book’s release was heavily focused on pushing that it is a memoir of his Hollywood years. The bulk of the book is focused on the “Diversions”, which are New Yorker style cartoons produced by the duo. Those were OK, but not exactly what I was looking for.
That being said, I absolutely loved what he and Harry had put together as they highlighted stories from Steve about his work on films like Planes, Trains And Automobiles, A Simple Twist of Fate, and Three Amigos, and many others. I was laughing out loud reading about John Candy, Martin Short and Diane Keaton (Martin Short’s introduction on Three Amigos was the best). I desperately wanted more and I have no doubt that Steve could have produced many stories that easily could have filled the book cover to cover.
I get that this is meant to be a coffee table book, but I feel like there is a lost opportunity here. Steve is endlessly charming, hilarious and effortlessly interesting. One of my biggest regrets was not going to see him when both he and Martin Short performed live here in Ottawa a few years ago. I can’t fully recommend this one given that more than half of the book is not something I cared for or would revisit, but the movie years that the co-authors shone a spotlight on were excellent.