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Steve Martin's 10 Funniest Movie Moments

Planes Trains and Automobiles
Paramount

Steve Martin hasn't exactly been cranking out the comedies this century. So if you're, say, under 25, you'd be forgiven (maybe) for referring to the guy merely as  "the white-haired guy" in the new laugher "The Big Year."

Sure, Steve Martin may be older than your average "Twilight" star, but the dude was and still is hee-larious. He's been cracking up movie audiences for over 30 years.

From cursing out a rental car agent in "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" to singing about the joys of molar extractions in "Little Shop of Horrors" to marveling over the great wonders of phone books in "The Jerk," these are 10 of Steve Martin's funniest movie moments (plus a few extras). Fair warning: This list might inspire you to dust off your parents' VHS collection. We approve.

10. My Little Buttercup, '¡Three Amigos!' (1986)

Contrary to popular belief, Steve Martin was never a "Saturday Night Live" cast member; but he did host the show 15 times in addition to working closely with the show's creator Lorne Michaels on the '80s adventure musical comedy "¡Three Amigos!" The pair cowrote the film (with the help of Randy Newman) which stars Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short as an unemployed comedy trio who are mistaken as the heroes they have played on-screen. Hilarity naturally ensues as the three amigos are invited to a Mexican town for what they think is a personal appearance -- only to realize that the villagers want them to protect their village against desperadoes. Enjoy Martin's song-and-dance skills as he and his clueless, costumed gang attempts to entertain a grim saloon audience.

9. The Bicycle Story, 'My Blue Heaven' (1990)

You'd probably never guess that Steve Martin could pull off a sleazy mobster character, but he did in "My Blue Heaven," which was written by Nora Ephron and based on the life of Henry Hill, the same mobster who inspired "Goodfellas." Instead of a dramatic, Martin Scorsese-directed interpretation of Hill's story, Herbert Ross ("Footloose," "Funny Lady") crafted this humorous version with Martin playing a mobster forced to live a life of suburban normality in the Witness Protection Program under the watchful eye of an uptight FBI agent (Rick Moranis). In this movie, Steve Martin's mischievous character Vinnie can't help but revert to his criminal ways while in the government's care. Fortunately for him, he is a champion smooth talker.

8. You Had Sex With Jeff, 'Bowfinger' (1999)

How brilliant is Steve Martin? So brilliant that he only needs 15 seconds to execute a hilarious scene. Take, for example, this moment in the Martin-written cult comedy "Bowfinger," which he also stars in as a film producer who hires an untalented lookalike of a popular action star (Eddie Murphy) in hopes that his film will be distributed. This micro-scene, however, features Martin and his actress girlfriend, played by Heather Graham.

7. Dentist Song, 'Little Shop of Horrors' (1986)

You've probably never seen a dentist as passionate about his career as Steve Martin's enthusiastic tooth-puller in Frank Oz's film adaptation of the off-Broadway musical comedy "Little Shop of Horrors." And for Martin's character Orin Scrivello, it's not the whole "dental hygiene" thing that gets him going, but the sheer joy that comes form inflicting pain on his clients. Watch then as Martin stars in the most clever musical number about a sadistic DDS ever.

6. A Little Drive, 'L.A. Story' (1991)

Here's more proof that Martin is one of the most concise comedic actors and writers in the biz. In "L.A. Story," which Martin wrote and starred in, the writer-actor satirizes over-the-top Los Angeles culture as Harris K. Telemacher, a romantically conflicted TV meteorologist. This romantic comedy -- which costars Sarah Jessica Parker as a rollerblading ditz named SanDeE*, sets a scene in a restaurant called l'Idiot and features some good natured highway gunfire -- was a critical and box office hit.

5. Hot Dog/Hot Dog Buns, 'Father of the Bride' (1991)

Even in one of his more emotional roles, as a reluctant father of the bride (Kimberly Williams) who just can't let go of his little girl, Martin finds a way to stamp his own brand of funny on this Charles Shyer remake. In addition to his riotous scenes with his "¡Three Amigos!" costar Martin Short (who plays the eccentric European wedding planner), Martin is at his best crumbling under the stress of his daughter's impending nuptials. Case in point: this supermarket showdown over hot dogs and hot dog bun mathematics.

4. Dinner Scene, 'Dirty Rotten Scoundrels' (1988)

Two years after starring in Frank Oz's "Little Shop of Horrors," Martin reunited with the director for "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels," a comedy that stars the actor and Michael Caine as a pair of dueling con artists trying to work their schemes along the French Riviera. At one point, they decide to cooperate briefly enough for this fantastic setup in which Martin's character is forced to play the unfortunate role of the mentally disabled, eye patch-wearing brother Ruprecht to Caine's "wealthy European aristocrat." The rich American they attempt to con at dinner is played by Glenne Headly ("Dick Tracy").

3. In Print, 'The Jerk' (1979)

It was his role in the beloved comedy "The Jerk" that made Martin a movie star. In addition to being Martin's first produced script, "The Jerk" also provided Martin with his first lead part. As Navin R. Johnson, an impossibly (but amusingly) naive gas station attendant who was raised by an African American family, Martin's character struggles through poverty, wealth and poverty again, all while trying to wrap his mind around the little things in life, like the beauty of a phone book.

2. Car Rentals, 'Planes, Trains & Automobiles' (1987)

As we saw with the "Father of the Bride" clip, Martin is on the top of his game when venting his pent-up frustrations to minimum wage employees. But very few Steve Martin scenes can beat this moment from the John Hughes classic comedy "Planes, Trains & Automobiles." As a high-strung advertising executive pushed to his limits when he is forced to embark on an epic, two-day journey with a jovial klutz (John Candy) just to get home in time for Thanksgiving, Martin's character finally snaps at a rental car attendant.

1. Nose Jokes, 'Roxanne'

In "Roxanne," Martin's big screen adaptation of "Cyrano de Bergerac," the performer stars as a well-liked small-town fireman who is painfully sensitive of his enormous nose while simultaneously (and just as painfully) in love with a beautiful astronomer (Darryl Hannah). In the below scene, enjoy as Martin's character responds to an uninspired nose-related insult with a rapid-fire routine of his own clever bon mots nose. Like all of Steve Martin's funniest movie moments, his "Roxanne" nose routine demonstrates his impeccably timed wit, his master-crafted punchlines and his calm but commanding presence.

Bonus Television Moment: 'Paranormal Activity' Oscars Sketch (2010)

In addition to cracking up film audiences, Steve Martin has also entertained television viewers over the past 30+ years. Here is one of Martin's more recent small-screen highlights: a "Paranormal Activity" send-up from the 2010 Academy Awards, which Martin cohosted with Alec Baldwin.

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