Cinema: Burned-Out Star

Many custard pies have been thrown in the face of the silent-movie business, but few as sour as The Comic. If its advertisements are to be believed, the movie is simply a fond lampoon of Hollywood's pride-and-pratfall epoch. As the film unreels, it becomes in fact a furious editorial about a business that treats its veterans like overexposed celluloid.

An ex-vaudevillian, Billy Bright (Dick Van Dyke), clicks in silent two-reelers and becomes a national figure. Producer-Director-Writer Carl Reiner gives Van Dyke almost enough of this plot line to hang himself by strutting and capering in the manner of Mack Sennett's mute screwballs....

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