Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

L.A. Story (1991)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

L.A. Story (1991)

In actor/director Steve Martin's existential, wacky, and surreal romantic fantasy-comedy set in the artificial, shallow city of Los Angeles:

  • the film's opening voice-over, introducing Harris K. Telemacher (Steve Martin), as he was riding a stationary bike in a park, and paraphrasing from William Shakespeare's Richard II play: ("My name is Harris K. Telemacher. I live in Los Angeles, and I've had seven heart attacks, all imagined. That is to say, I was deeply unhappy but I didn't know it, because I was so happy all the time. I have a favorite quote about L.A. by William Shakespeare. He said: 'This other Eden, demi-paradise, this precious stone set in the silver sea of this earth, this ground, this Los Angeles. Anyway, this is what happened to me, and I swear, it's all true")
  • Harris' solution to LA gridlock - buckling up his seatbelt, and like clockwork, taking a detour through side-streets, over sidewalks, backyards and lawns, to avoid the traffic, and later, the road rage scene of firing his pistol at an aggressive water-delivery truck
  • the scene of the report LA weatherman Telemacher's "Wac-Wac-Wacky Weekend Weather!" - throwing SUN stickers at a Los Angeles area weather map and exclaiming: "Not weather, sun, sun, sun, sun, sun!"
  • the many gags about LA's lifestyle (i.e., the Walk/Don't Walk sign that read: "Like Uh Don't Walk")
  • his amusing thought: "I could never be a woman, 'cause I'd just stay home and play with my breasts all day"
  • the one-upsmanship lunch scene of ordering coffees at a trendy restaurant: (Harris: "I'll have a half double decaffeinated half-caf, with a twist of lemon"), and an earthquake that no one paid attention to
  • the brilliantly funny cameo by Patrick Stewart as a French-accented Maitre D' ("You zink with a bank statement like zis, you can have ze duck?!")
  • the classic museum scene in which Telemacher roller-skated past objets d'art, then described one painting to his friends as sexy: ("The way he's holding her. It's almost - filthy. I mean, he's, he's about to kiss her and she's pulling away. The way the leg's sort of smashed up against her. Phew. Look how he's painted the blouse sort of translucent. You can just make out her breasts underneath and it's sort of touching him about here. It's really pretty torrid, don't you think? And of course you have the onlookers peeking at them from behind a doorway like they're all shocked. They wish! You know, when I see a painting like this, I get, uh, emotionally - erect") - and the painting was only a large red rectangle!
Art Museum Scene
  • the lunch scene of Harris' request to know the name of carefree, playful Valley Girl and vapid airhead SanDeE* (Sarah Jessica Parker), and commenting on name variations: ("It's a nice name, but everybody has such weird names now, it's like Tiffany with a p-h-i, and instead of Nancy, it's Nanceen") - after spelling her name for him three times: ("big S, small a, small n, big D, small e, big E and there's a little star at the end"), she wrote it on his palm surrounded by a heart shape; after lunch, he told her: "It was a great lunch and enema, thanks!", and later, his reaction after touching her breasts: "SanDeE*, your... your breasts feel weird" with her unexpected reply: "Oh, that's 'cause they're real"
SanDeE* (Sarah Jessica Parker) - with Real Breasts
  • the romance between Harris and British journalist Sara McDowel (Victoria Tennant), aided by electronic 'Freeway Condition' signs when they had car trouble and pulled over, as Harris explained in voice-over: ("There are two events in my life that I consider to be magical, that couldn't be explained scientifically. The first of them was about to happen") -- a Freeway Condition sign (!) began to flash messages at him, and at first suspected he was being filmed, but then began to seriously take its advice about changing his life and romancing Sara: ("HIYA", "I SAID HIYA", "R U O K?", "DON'T MAKE ME WASTE LETTERS", "R.U.O.K.?", "HUG ME", "I SAID HUG ME", "I'M A SIGNPOST", "HUG ME", "PLEASE?", "THAT FELT GOOD", "I C PEOPLE N TROUBLE & I STOP THEM", "L.A. WANTS 2 HELP U", "U WILL KNOW WHAT 2 DO WHEN U UNSCRAMBLE HOW DADDY IS DOING", "IT'S A RIDDLE")
  • the powerfully romantic scenes, including the Enya-scored scene when he walked with Sara and they were magically transformed into children and then they kissed
  • Harris' line about summoning storms and winds (and changing the polarity of the earth so compasses wouldn't work) to prevent Sara from returning to London - as he kissed her passionately: ("Forget for this moment the smog and the cars and the restaurant and the skating and remember only this. A kiss may not be the truth, but it is what we wish were true") - and all of the freeway signs flashed: "CONDITION CLEAR"
  • the solving or rearranging of the letters of the riddle: "HOW DADDY IS DOING" -- as -- "SING DOO WAH DIDDY"
  • Harris' final summation of what he learned: ("There are only two things in my life I will never forget. One is that there is someone for everyone. Even if you need a pickax, a compass, and night goggles to find them. And the other is tonight. When I learned that romance does exist deep in the heart of .A")
  • the funny final shot of the freeway sign saying: "WHAT I REALLY WANT TO DO IS DIRECT"

Telemacher on Stationary Bike

Solution to LA Gridlock

LA Weather Report: "Sun, Sun, Sun, Sun, Sun"

Ordering Coffees Scene

Maitre-D's Question: "You can have the duck?"

Car Troubles on Freeway

Transformed into Children For Kiss

Electronic Freeway Signs Aiding Romance with Sara


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