Genesis International

Carl Reiner didn't even have time to shave in the late '60s

When journalists entered the set of the movie Enter Laughing in 1966, they found a Carl Reiner that felt unfamiliar. Many of those same press contacts had been on the set of The Dick Van Dyke Show, or maybe even an earlier movie like It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (in which Reiner acted) or The Art of Love (which Reiner wrote). While those previous workplaces featured a composed, collected Carl Reiner, Enter Laughing was his directorial debut, and had him running around more frantically than ever before.  

Central Press Association correspondent Armand Archerd printed his findings in 1966, revealing his utter shock at Reiner's state as his creative pursuits began to demand more and more from him. 

"He looked like a bum," wrote Archerd. 

"Carl Reiner was unshaven, sans tie or toupee. He had lost that je-ne-sais-quoi attitude of complete nonchalance, savoir faire. He directed without relenting for a moment. He put the actors through their paces effectively, authoritatively, tirelessly, but with a friendly, 'family' feeling."

Enter Laughing was a critical turning point for Carl Reiner. While he'd been at the helm for The Dick Van Dyke Show, this was the first production for which he was the real head honcho on set. Sure, he'd have studio executives to answer to, but he had more control over this movie than he'd had in any creative venture before. That meant more freedom, but it also meant more stress. Reiner was responsible not just for delivering footage, but also for setting the tone of the workspace. 

The production featured a Dick Van Dyke Show alum, actor Richard Deacon. Despite the hectic schedule, Deacon still had time to praise Carl Reiner's ability to steer the creative ship.

"Reiner worked seven days and nights on [The Dick Van Dyke Show]. He was never too busy to listen to a comment, never too busy to hear a complaint. I never heard him tell an actor who didn't like a line, 'You play it the way it's written!'

"Carl took time to try and make it better, funnier, more comfortable for the performer, and it showed in the final product. The same thing's happening in this picture. He never stops trying to make everything just a little bit better."

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