|Mickey Rooney |
& Dick Van Dyke
-- Billy Bright, narrating The Comic from his funeral casket
|Dick Van Dyke & Michelle Lee|
|Billy Bright tests a Chaplin mustache|
|The film's writer & director Carl Reiner also appeared |
in The Comic playing Billy Bright's nasty agent Al Schilling
"The Comic" has more than a few truly memorable and even haunting sequences. The opening credits feature nothing but blaring music and a vintage Billy Bright tin toy, wound up yet constantly tumbling over, an analogy to Bright's troubled life. Dick Van Dyke and Carl Reiner lovingly recreated many inspired and truly funny vintage silent screen comedy scenes (in B&W).
And there's a very funny sequence with an aged Billy Bright attempting a comeback (ala Buster Keaton), on the late sixties Steve Allen show surrounded by several clueless guests, screening a hilarious Billy Bright TV commercial for "Whitey White" laundry detergent (with a cameo by Isabel Sanford).
TCM on The Comic: http://www.tcm.com/this-month/article/353393%7C0/The-Comic.html
There is also a beautifully played and subtle performance by Mickey Rooney as Billy Bright's long suffering movie comedy co-star and (for some unexplained reason), only loyal friend "Cockeye". Then there's Dick Van Dyke himself, Oscar-worthy as Billy Bright, particularly in the sad final scenes as an old, forgotten man, slowly roaming down Hollywood Blvd with Cockeye, eyes covered in their feeble game of attempting to identify the Hollywood walk of fame stars. Finally, Billy alone, comb-over bald, unloved and forgotten, sitting in his tiny Hollywood apartment, mouth agape, blankly staring at one of his old movies ("Forget Me Nots") on the late show while eating and dribbling a soft boiled egg down his chin, wondering what went wrong. Harrowing and still funny stuff. Despite it's flaws, "The Comic" is Carl Reiner's finest and finally most poignant film.
|Mickey Rooney as Cockeye presents Billy Bright |
(recovering from a stroke) with a Billy Bright tin toy
Dick Van Dyke was in his mid-forties when he made The Comic and he looks a bit old as the young and eager Billy Bright, arriving in Hollywood after his success as a Vaudeville comedian, but his sad, drawn face works perfectly in the later scenes of Billy Bright in decline. Van Dyke, who also struggled with alcohol problems, was the perfect choice for Billy Bright. He had appeared in several turkeys leading up to The Comic ("Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" was his only late-sixties hit), and sadly, The Comic would also flop at the box office. He'd star in just one more film (the very funny "Cold Turkey") before returning to television. Yet in this film he achieved something he had never actually pulled off before. Van Dyke, always likable, in "The Comic", he made himself almost completely unlikable. He's simply note-perfect in this tailor made role and It's by far my favorite performance of his.
Read about the 2011 "The Comic" reunion with Carl Reiner, Dick Van Dyke and Michelle Lee: http://www.newsfromme.com/2012/11/21/the-billy-bright-film-festival/
|The original one-sheet poster for The Comic. The working title for the film was|
but the studio chose the inevitable bland, nondescript title "The Comic" and created this equally bland poster
|Dick Van Dyke as Billy Bright poses as a mannequin in one of the films early|
silent comedy film recreations (notice the sideburns)
|Carl Reiner as Billy Bright's agent discuses Billy's faltering career|
with Van Dyke
|Another early silent comedy bit|
|49 year old Mickey Rooney played Billy's best friend, Martin "Cockeye"|
This is Rooney as the younger (bewigged) Cockeye
|Filming at Paradise Cove in Malibu. Mickey Rooney, Michelle Lee and Dick Van Dyke.|
The girl in the bikini doesn't appear in the film.
|Billy Bright, drunk and passed out, with drinking partner Ginger|
|Billy Flirting with Sybil (Nina Wayne) and admiring a statue of her|
|An ad for the film from a Canadian newspaper|
|Billy Bright and Mary Gibson first meet|
|Cockeye driving the just- married couple|
|Billy once again attempting to make up with Mary|
|After their divorce, Billy brings a gift for their son who he's never met|
|Cornel Wilde as film director Frank Powers discovers Billy in bed with his girlfriend|
Mary Gibson until She explains to him that they're "just married"
|Billy pushes a cream puff into his agent Al's face explaining "That's funny"|
|Mary, Cockeye and Billy attend a film premiere|
|An older Billy Bright (with combover) appears on the Steve Allen show.|
Notice the sideburns
Carl Reiner directing the cast and posed stills of Mickey Rooney and
cast member Pert Kelton, were taken by a Columbia studio photographer
on the set of The Comic...
|The Comic was released on video cassette |
with yet another bland cover for the VHS box
|One of Dick Van Dyke's Billy Bright costumes recently went up for auction|