My Favorite Year on DVD
Peter O'Toole gives a wonderful performance as an aging matinee idol
making an unprecedented live TV appearance in this hilarious scenery chewer.
O'Toole is Alan Swann, a swashbuckler obviously modeled on Errol Flynn,
a Hollywood bad boy known for buckling his swash, thrusting his fleshy
sword into a variety of pliable females, and generally being drunk and
disorderly and keeping the tabloids busy.
Benjy Stone (Mark Linn-Baker) tells the story. He's a writer for Comedy
Cavalcade, an "Allan Brady Show" (where Rob Petrie worked in "the Dick
Van Dyke Show") type of broadcast with an egotistical star King Kaiser
(hilariously played by Joseph Bologna). Benjy's a shy Jewish boy from
Brooklyn who's having the time of his life making it in early live TV
in the Big Apple. When his boyhood hero Swann shows up at the show's offices
for his guest stint comatosely drunk, he's assigned to babysit him through
the rehearsals and the live broadcast.
It's the biggest challenge he's had to date, and for the most part he
does okay. But in the meantime, he gets to know this man to whom he's
looked up all his life - and discovers there's a lot more below the surface
of Alan Swann than meets the media's eye.
O'Toole is simply irresistible as Swann, alternately chewing the scenery
and making us feel very much for him. His Swann is no dummy, and he knows
that despite the image straitjacket he wears it also allows him to do
a lot of things ordinary people could never get away with. Yet despite
that, he isn't happy - but during his time at Comedy Cavalcade he learns
what he needs to do to achieve that happiness.
So we get to laugh our collected asses off at his, and the rest of the
cast's, antic - while developing a real fondness for the larger than life
people whose lives we share for some 90 minutes. These people include
Jessica Harper, Lainie Kazan, Bill Macy, Anne de Salvo, Basil Hoffman,
Lou Jacobi, Adolph Green and Cameron Mitchell.
My Favorite Year is quite simply hilarious. The Dick Van Dyke Show analogy
made above is extremely valid (and that was one of the funniest sitcoms
ever) - though the script is actually more inspired by Mel Brooks' (whose
company made the film) early days as a writer.
The DVD is no special edition, but that doesn't make the movie any less
enjoyable. The picture, presented in anamorphic widescreen (16x9 TV compatible)
is a little soft in places but generally is very good, with a sharp image
and lovely color.
Audio is Dolby Digital mono and it's unremarkable but okay.
The only extra worth mentioning is a running commentary by director Richard
Benjamin, which includes some fascinating insight into this "valentine
to New York." Otherwise you get an extremely lame cast/crew list (with
only one link to Peter O'Toole's filmography) and the theatrical trailer.
Despite the dearth of extra materials, however, My Favorite Year is a
wonderful film that deserves to be played in your home theater. It'll
make you laugh out loud.
My Favorite Year, from Warner Home Video
92 min. anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 TV compatible, Dolby Digital
Starring Peter O'Toole, Mark Linn-Baker, Joseph Bologna, Jessica Harper
Produced by Michael Gruskoff,
Written by Norman Steinberg and Dennis Palumbo, Directed by Richard Benjamin
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