30 Years of L.A. Story

Steve Martin’s L.A. Story is one of my favorite movies. I thought it first debuted 30 years ago this summer, but it turns out, it was first released on February 8, 1991, so it now just over 30 years old.

I saw the movie for the first time with my brother and distinctly recall the advertising for the movie as “the first great comedy of the 1990s.” I loved it. Aside from its Shakespearean overtones, it caricatured Los Angeles in a way seemed to perfectly capture all that the city was about in the early 90s. At the time I first saw the movie, I’d been living in L.A. for about 8 years, with another 11 years to go and the film was something I could recognize about the place where I lived.

L.A. Story became the first video I repeatedly rented in college. My roommates and I would watch the movie over and over again until we had every line of the film memorized (I can still remember most of the lines today). Enya’s music from the film is part of the Littlest Miss and my nap playlist. I am after reminded of the street art that appears in the film when I see photos of Santa Monica street art posted on Twitter by my by my great-great-great grandboss.

Even though L.A. didn’t seem so to me at the time, L.A. Story captured an idealized version of L.A. for me, one that I look back on fondly–something I never imagined I’d do while living there. I watched the movie for the first time in a while last summer and it was just as good as I remembered it being. It is one of those movies that does’t lose its luster as it ages.

When I first saw the film, I was nearly 19 years old. Thirty years later, as I sat down to write this post, a strange thing occurred to me. I had to look it up to confirm it, but confirm it I did. I am today, nearly 4 years older than Steve Martin was when the film came out. Even so, my hair isn’t quite as white as his was (except maybe on the sides).

Today when I think about L.A. Story, I sometimes wonder whatever happened to Harris K. Telemacher and Sara McDowel. Did they really live happily ever after? And what about SanDeE* (“Big-S, small-A, small-n, big-D, small-E, big-E… and there’s a star at the end”) and Roland? Whenever a story makes me wonder about where the characters might be thirty years later, it is a good story.

About Jamie Todd Rubin

Jamie Todd Rubin writes fiction and nonfiction for a variety of publications including Analog, Clarkesworld, The Daily Beast, 99U, Daily Science Fiction, Lightspeed, InterGalactic Medicine Show, and several anthologies. He was featured in Lifehacker’s How I Work series. He has been blogging since 2005. By day, he manages software projects and occasionally writes code. He lives in Arlington, Virginia with his wife and three children. Find him on Twitter at @jamietr.

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