Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Supporting Cast Steals Show in "Enter Laughing"

Cleveland Press September 28, 1967

"Enter Laughing" tries hard to be a very funny movie, turns out to be at its best just warm and folksy.

This is a screen adaptation of the play which in turn was adapted from Carl Reiner's novel about a stage-struck Bronx kid trying to break into show business.

Reiner has co-authored the screen play and directed the movie. The result is an uneven affair, better in its individual scenes than it is as a total conception.

One reason for this is that the individual scenes are dominated by some of the finest character actors ever assembled in one movie.

THEY WALK AWAY with the movie, shifting the emphasis from the starry eyed youth. As the youth Reiner has cast young Reni Santoni who, I am sorry to say, is not up to acting in such distinguished company. He is good, but not good enough and his colleagues make this all too apparent.

The movie ads quote Earl Wilson to the effect that young Santoni is another Alan Arkin. Arkin created the role on stage and while I did not see that performance I am sufficiently familiar with his work to believe that he is capable of exploring more nuances in the role than his screen counterpart.

Worth the price of admission, however, are all those other people. Jose Ferrer is delightfully broad as the hammy, gin swigging actor, and Elaine May is wonderfully zany as his actress daughter.

SHELLEY WINTERS IS PERFECT as a Jewish mamma, ruling her husband and son with a combination of tears and bullying.

Jack Gilford creates a whole character of his own as the boy's exasperated employer. Janet Margolin is warmly attractive as the boy's girl friend.

The production carefully recreates the world of 1938 with copies of Colliers and Liberty tossed about, posters of FDR adorning walls and people making five-cent phone calls.

But it takes more than authentic sets and character actors to make a good movie. This one needed a leading man.