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A Perfect Film Comedy!
cariart18 October 2003
Have you ever watched a film and wished it wouldn't end? Where you loved all the characters, adored each scene, and laughed at every joke, even after you'd seen the film so many times that you could quote the dialog? MY FAVORITE YEAR is that kind of movie!

Directed with gusto by Richard Benjamin, the film is both a loving tribute to Sid Caesar's 'Your Show of Show', and the remarkable talents that brought it together each week, and a sincere homage to Errol Flynn, whose antics and larger-than-life persona, in the waning years of his life, still had a kind of magic that could enthrall a shy young fan, or make a woman swoon.

Three dynamic performances dominate the film. Mark Linn-Baker, as Benjy Stone, based on the young Mel Brooks, is a shy kid who hides his insecurities behind a rapid-fire wit. The dazzling young star in a staff of comedy 'pros', Stone suffers from an unrequited love from fellow staffer K. C. Downing (Jessica Harper), and has an inspiration, inviting legendary swashbuckler Alan Swann (Peter O'Toole) to appear on the show. As King Kaiser, star of the hit series, Joseph Bologna captures much of Sid Caesar's legendary physical 'presence' and irreverence to authority. When threatened by gangsters over a 'too close to home' series of parodies about crime boss Karl Rojeck (portrayed with brute menace by veteran actor Cameron Mitchell), Kaiser 'thumbs his nose' at them, mimicking the gangster mercilessly. "I'll KEEP doing it!" he taunts. "Why? Because it's FUNNY!"

Then there is Peter O'Toole's 'Alan Swann'. With his own career a roller coaster ride of alcoholism, resulting in the near destruction of his health, no actor could have 'channeled' Errol Flynn better. Just as Flynn, by the 1950s, was a nearly burned-out roué, his classic good looks long gone, O'Toole's matinee-idol appearance, after years of self-abuse, had aged into a gaunt mask, making Benji Stone's film montage of 'classic' clips more poignant. What Flynn still had, in abundance, were charm and a ready wit, and O'Toole's 'Swann' is so enchanting a personality that you can't help but love him, and root for him to succeed.

From the opening nostalgic strains of Nat King Cole's rendition of 'Stardust', through Benjy's futile effort to attempt to keep Swann sober (Red Skelton loved to tell how he kept Flynn sober on his program...he emptied all of the actor's bottles of vodka, replacing it with water...and Flynn couldn't tell the difference!), to a riotous Swann dinner with Benjy's family, to the near-disastrous broadcast, with Swann developing stage fright, and Kaiser brawling with mob enforcers...MY FAVORITE YEAR has one glorious scene after another, each unforgettable!

One of the AFI's '100 Greatest Film Comedies', MY FAVORITE YEAR will bring a tear to your eye, even as you laugh. It was a time of legends, and heroes who would live up to boyhood dreams.

Film comedy doesn't get any better than this!
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9/10
O'Toole at his best
Lupercali11 April 2004
Peter O'Toole is at the height of his comic powers in this wonderful homage to Errol Flynn, the 50's, and early live TV. Alan Swann (O'Toole) is a swashbuckling, aging, alcoholic actor billed to appear on television - which is fine until he realises that the thing is going to be broadcast LIVE, which is unthinkable. This prompts severe stage fright and heavy drinking, as he is cojoled with endless patience by his adoring young minder, Benjy Stone, (Mark Linn-Baker).

The film is funny, brilliant, sad, stirring, inspiring, exciting - unique. The cast is perfect from top to bottom A tour de force by O'Toole. Watch it. 'My Favorite Year' should become one of Your Favorite Films. 9 out of 10.
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8/10
Plastered Makes Perfect
slokes15 May 2003
Really fun movie, with a tone and style all its own. It has the same zippy sitcom character of the set which is its main stage, and the comedic acting is often over the top. Yet it drives through some very subtle and deep ideas about what makes a celebrity tick, the price culture extracts from its most ballyhooed figures, and the scars divorce and drink can leave on those with the smoothest of surfaces.

The secret to this film's success is O'Toole, who gives up some of his most intimate and affecting moments on screen and intersperses them with ass-over-elbow feats of physical schtick that would make a Ritz Brother proud. What a shock we never saw much else from him after this tour de force. Richard Benjamin did go on to direct other films like "Shoot The Moon," but he never managed to get it all absolutely right the way he did here. It's so note-perfect, from the opening shot of midtown Manhattan 1954 with the cars, outfits, and bustle all coming together beneath the strains of Les Paul and Mary Ford's "How High The Moon" into a tight closeup of Benjy Stone carrying a cardboard cutout of his hero, Alan Swann, through an uncaring, jostling crowd.

I almost wish they could have made a sitcom featuring the King Kaiser crew, with of course Joseph Balogna, Bill Macy, Adolph Green and the rest all reprising their roles in a kind of "Remember WENN"-style show. O, what roads left untravelled. Balogna is so good, managing to carry off his Sid Caesar-inspired role with the same kind of aplomb that made the original Caesar early television's most dynamic and celebrated comedy performer. There's a nice scene early on where Stone sticks up for a prone Swann by telling Kaiser he can't fire the swashbuckler. "You're a big star now, and I'm sure you always will be," Benjy says. "But suppose, and I know it will never happen, you end up like this. I hope nobody does to you what you're doing to him." Of course Caesar did end up like this, strung out on substance-use problems that derailed his post-50s career, and knowing that gives the scene, both funny and tension-filled, a certain undertone of poignancy for those in the know.

Mark Linn-Baker could have taken it down a notch or two, and the Brooklyn idyll was to die for, and not in a good way. I'd like to know how the hell I'm supposed to lock lips with the woman of my dreams by stuffing my face with Chinese food and showing her old movies, but I don't think my repeated viewings have helped my love life much. It has given me many hours of pleasure though. This is one film that keeps on giving. With lines like "Plastered? So are some of the finest erections in Europe" "These must be his drinking socks" and "Tongue...Death," how can it do anything less?
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8/10
"I'm Not an Actor...I'm a Movie Star!!"
ijonesiii11 January 2006
The 1982 comedy MY FAVORITE COMEDY was a lovingly made period piece that takes place during a wonderful time in entertainment history...the infancy of live television in the 1950's (or more specifically, YOUR SHOW OF SHOWS). This laugh-filled comic romp follows the adventures of Benji (Mark Linn-Baker), a gopher for COMEDY CALVACADE (this film's version of YOUR SHOW OF SHOWS), who is excited when a swashbuckling actor of the period named Alan Swann (Peter O'Toole) has been booked as a guest on the show turns out to be a skirt-chasing alcoholic who Benji is put in charge of keeping under control until showtime. This movie is a lovely valentine to the 1950's with exquisite period detail and an intelligent screenplay that invokes the period so beautifully. O'Toole gives the performance of a lifetime as Swann, an alternately laugh out loud funny and heartbreakingly warm performance that earned him an Oscar nomination, yet somehow Linn-Baker somehow manages to hold his own and never allows O'Toole to blow him off the screen. O' Toole and Linn-Baker get solid support from Lainie Kazan as Benji's mother, Joseph Bologna as King Kaiser, the star of Comedy Calvacade, Cameron Mitchell as a not-too bright gangster, and Adolph Green as the manic producer of the show. A good looking, smartly-written superbly written comedy that documents a long gone era in entertainment history and tells a warm and amusing story as well.
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9/10
A humane, funny film with a great heart.
coop-1620 April 1999
I was born in 1958, so I never saw Your Show of Shows, and needless to say, I never knew there was a famous or infamous incident involving one of my boyhood idols, a very drunk Errol Flynn.Dennis Palumbo, in what is ( sadly) apparently his only effort as a script writer, has taken this incident and woven a very human and very funny film from it. Benjamin's direction is excellent, and Peter O'Toole ( playing, it must be said, a variant of himself), is wonderful, as is most of the rest of the cast. Benjamin shows a sure comic touch in his debut. In short, like Quiz Show, one of the best movies about the fifties, and one of the best movies about the early days of television.
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A Movie of Moments
marko1 November 2000
The best movies have moments -- scenes so powerful, or simply so note-perfect, that they live on in your memory after the plot is forgotten.

"My Favorite Year" has more than its share of these.

Other reviewers on this page have singled out the dinner at Belle Mae Steinberg Carioca's (Lainie Kazan's) Brooklyn apartment. They might also have mentioned the scene in which a titanically intoxicated Alan Swann (O'Toole)essays to "shimmy down" the side of a building, using a fire hose as rapelling gear, or the farcically climactic fight scene on live 50's TV.

But two other moments resonate even more strongly; they explain completely why Peter O'Toole was cast in this otherwise comedic role.

In the first, O'Toole's character interrupts his own plans for an evening of debauchery to fulfill a fantasy by dancing with an aging, but still glorious Gloria Stuart. Both onscreen and off, the audience is spellbound in the midst of the slapstick as these two senior-citizen actors seize the screen for the duration of their waltz.

Even more compelling is an important scene later in the movie in which Swann makes a quick trip to visit a young daughter whom he hasn't seen in years. He watches her from the car, but can't bring himself to get out and speak to her. The scene is played completely without dialogue. With the camera focused tightly on the warring emotions which play across O'Toole's face, no dialogue is necessary. It's a powerful, lump-in-the-throat moment every divorced dad will recognize.

I join others on this page in urging you to rent this movie for the laughs. As you laugh, however, stay alert for two of the truest moments ever placed on film. Enjoy.
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My Favorite Year
Coxer9915 June 1999
Hilarious film about a Sid Caesar-like comedy series where the special guest is a legendary swashbuckler movie idol who is more known for taking to drink, than for his acting credits. O'Toole shines as Alan Swann, the swashbuckler on his first live television series. Bologna is priceless as the Sid Caesar-like star of the comedy show. Baker is also wonderful as the young comedy writer assigned to watch Swann's every move. There is great support from Bill Macy, excellent as the show's head writer; Green as the show's producer; Hoffman as a comedy writer who only whispers how he feels...only to speak at the end of the film and Kazan, who is simply divine as Baker's mother. The film is a fine slice of old fashioned comedy with great slapstick and dialogue with lots of zap and zing. Director Benjamin shines in his first venture behind the camera. O'Toole was Oscar nominated.
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8/10
Stardust memories
Ishallwearpurple30 September 2002
From the opening notes of Nat 'King' Cole's great recording of Stardust, this film just steals your heart. If you are old enough to remember TV's Show Of Shows, live every week, this is a real treat. Peter O'Toole is magic as an Errol Flynn like movie star, swashing every buck in sight, charming the socks off one and all. The final scene of the live broadcast, with the mayhem caused by the gangsters invading the stage, is a classic. A delighful 90 minutes. 8/10

Jane
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10/10
Summoning Up Your Inner Flynn
bkoganbing22 March 2007
Peter O'Toole, who's been known to take an occasional drink himself, probably had a lot of experience to bring to the part of Alan Swann, swashbuckling movie star of bygone years who's gone to seed. O'Toole has a tax problem and he's agreed to do an appearance on a top rated television comedy show of the Fifties to satisfy Uncle Sam's lien on his future income and to avoid deportation. But by now he's a boozy shadow of his former self and the star of the show Joseph Bologna assigns his most junior writer, Mark Linn-Baker to keep him in reasonable condition to perform.

As it turns out it means bringing O'Toole into his world which is Jewish Brooklyn of the Fifties, something I'm somewhat familiar with myself. Baker and O'Toole become a marvelous comedy duo themselves here. I'm surprised they did not team to do a whole lot more films than this.

O'Toole's performance succeeds on a lot of levels. Yes it's pretty funny, sidesplittingly funny at times. But there's also an element of sadness in it as well. You see in film clips the man O'Toole once was and now only commands attention by making a public spectacle of himself at times. I knew someone like that in my life, one who hardly had any kind of a career, but also HAD to be the center of attention at all times and usually did it by getting riotously drunk and acting abominably dumb. He had a certain charm and could get away with it, a lot though not the way O'Toole does.

Based on Mel Brooks's recollections of having to work with Errol Flynn, the film lets you know it's Flynn were remembering. Note the almost step by step choreographed duel recreation of Flynn and Basil Rathbone's final duel from The Adventures of Robin Hood.

Joseph Bologna is great as the egotistical comedy star and the Brooklyn vignette has a great performance by Lainie Kazan as Baker's most Jewish mother and Lou Jacobi as his most Jewish uncle.

Still it's what goes on and what's between O'Toole and Baker that makes My Favorite Year an all time comedy classic.
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A surprising little (dare I say it?) O'Toole vehicle (I said it)
Brevity8 June 2005
Unaware of Mel Brooks's uncredited contribution and of most of the obvious parallels to real life, I began watching this and was eventually surprised I had heard so little of this minor nugget. While it is actually true that the humour here isn't too original, the execution is so irresistibly sure all can be forgiven. Even certain emotional, life lesson -like moments didn't bother me, for they have been done with utmost class.

The film flows flawlessly through its duration, and hardly anything seems out of place; there's no forced (I stress that word) emotionality to be found. Those things alone are something you don't often get. It has a splendid look to it, with the bright colours and the design, the costumes contributing to the wonderfully old-fashioned and fresh feel it has (how convenient).

The script is full of almost-priceless moments and witty one-liners and otherwise hilarious dialogue. I would imagine the film is of high re-watch value. It is by no means without its share of problems, though. As said, there's little that's not been done elsewhere, but the finished film works so well as a whole I can but say that all the praise is deserved. Needless to say, while the rest of the cast delivers, it is O'Toole's magnificently (un)steady and hilarious performance that lifts this one to heights.
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An Unexpected Good Time!
dancerwh8627 October 2004
I had never heard of this film until today. In fact, I had no intention of watching this movie at all. Peter O'Toole was being honored at the Savannah Film Festival and they had scheduled to show The Lion in Winter. That being one of my favorite flicks I immediately bought a ticket. Due to some kind of problem though they changed it and showed this instead. Well, all I can say is I'm glad I stayed for this movie! It was so funny and very witty. Peter O'Toole's delivery is unabelievable especially since I don't usually associate his name with this kind of comedy. It was hysterical! A lot of those in the theatre were college students like me and hadn't seen the movie either and everyone was rolling with laughter. I highly recommend this movie for a great time and an excellent performance from O'Toole!
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10/10
Sid Caesar, Errol Flynn, Mel Brooks, and Jimmy Hoffa meet "incognito"
theowinthrop29 July 2006
This was a very funny comedy set in the New York City of 1954-55, and involving the likes of three or four figures that normally did not have much in common, though three were in the entertainment field, and they would occasionally (or almost occasionally) work together. The fourth was less funny, but would (in his own way) be as much a figure of historical interest (even more so since he vanished).

In 1954, live television was the major part of the nightly line up of shows, especially variety shows. And the leading one of the day was Sid Caesar's YOUR SHOW OF SHOWS, with it's skillful blending of musical numbers and high comedy - satire skits. Even today, years after most of the shows have vanished (except for those on kines-cope) they remain legendary. Caesar had (for awhile) Mel Brooks working as a writer on his show. He also, on one occasion, planned to have Errol Flynn appear as a guest. Flynn did variety shows occasionally - he once appeared on Steve Allen's show, spoofing TO TELL THE TRUTH (he was one of three people claiming to be Flynn, one of the others being an overly confident Don Knotts wearing a little mustache). The story about Flynn's near appearance with Caesar was not as pleasant - he decided to take a powder at the last moment and did not show up for the final taping.

Based on that story we have this film, wherein Flynn becomes Alan Swann, swashbuckling hero of films of yore. Swann is to appear on THE KING KAISER SHOW with it's star (Joe Bologna). Bologna is as mercurial and difficult as Caesar supposedly was, and when upset at some comments made by Brook's film version "Benjy Stone" (Marc Lynn-Baker), he appoints Stone to keep an eye on the notoriously tipsy and unreliable Swann to make sure he shows up for the show's rehearsals and final production.

The addition of Jimmy Hoffa is interesting to this mix. The teamster boss was not really well known in 1954 (his predecessor Dave Beck was more notorious), but Hoffa's career can be shifted a few years to fit in. For the purposes of the plot, there has been a weekly segment of the show (Kaiser insists on it, showing a substantial public spirit here that is just not evident elsewhere), spoofing the thieving union racketeer (here named Karl Rojeck - Cameron Mitchell). Rojeck only physically appears in one confrontation sequence with Kaiser, in Kaiser's offices: He is a no-nonsense, humorless gangster, and his eye-to-eye confrontation with Kaiser is memorable. It ends with him grabbing the over-sized homburg hat that Kaiser uses for his costume as his own and leaving the meeting with a definite threat in his voice. But although Rojeck the character never reappears, his ominous shadow follows the movie, with late deliveries of supplies to the show, and with "accidents" almost befalling Kaiser and his associates.

As the movie progresses we concentrate mostly on Benjy's growing friendship with Alan Swann. Yes he drinks and womanizes too much, but he does show the young writer what is worthwhile about living, and he even blends in with Benjy's family (his mother Lainie Kazan and her second husband and Benjy's uncles and aunts). In one scene Swann is his charming self with them at a family dinner on Eastern Parkway.

Alan turns out to be a fairly complex figure - he realizes his glamorous image is not at all like his real, flawed self. And he knows he is selfish at times. But he is also genuinely timid about one creature: the little daughter he barely knows who lives in Connecticut. This is his "achilles heel" and it makes the audience realize that for all the glamor and fame he is not a happy man.

How Alan (with Benjy's help) pulls himself together and shows he can live up to his image is the heart of the movie. Peter O'Toole gives his best comic performance in this movie, abetted by Linn-Baker, Bologna, Selma Diamond (whose face glows when O'Toole shows her what he has to make a woman happy), Kazan, Bill Macy and the rest of the film. It turns out to be one's favorite movie about that favorite year.
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10/10
A perfect little gem of a film
millennui27 July 2005
A perfect little gem of a film, which the other posters here have attested to quite well. Peter O'Toole fans and those who can remember that time in our history would do themselves a great service in seeing this movie. It gets shown on TCM once and a while (good on them), this is where I had re-stumbled upon it after many, many years. I am also delighted to hear that it was released on DVD a couple of years ago, and I am eager to check it out.

This is one of my favorite movies. Reason being, I remember seeing this as a kid with my grandfather, who was very much a part of that era. I've never seen anyone laugh harder at a movie, ever. Seriously. Though he passed away a long time ago, it's one of my favorite memories, of him just laughing out load in uproarious delight. That's what movies should do.
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10/10
I only comment when I can say this "If you have a heart it will be touched"
bucksix25 May 2003
The other reviewers have said it all. One of them said that he gets choked up every time he watches it. So do I. In fact I got choked up reading his comments. When I was in 7th grade, (so many years ago) I saw Sid Caesar in a movie called "Tars and Spars" In it he did a sketch called "Wings over Bermerschnitzen" I stayed for a second show and came back the next night and memorized it. Now 57 years later I can still do it. Needless to say every Saturday I was glued to the TV watching "Your Show of Shows" Even though I was at an age when I should have been out chasing around. So when I see a truly outstanding movie based on these people, I am doubly touched.

I have heard that Dick Benjamin is an extremely kind and gentle person. That must be true as Benjy tells Alan, "nobody's that good an actor without the courage in himself" Well to Dick Benjamin I say, "Nobody's that good a director without the heart in himself"

As you watch this movie, IF YOU HAVE A HEART IT WILL BE TOUCHED!!!!!!
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9/10
A truly wonderful comedy with touching performances
vincentlynch-moonoi15 December 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Today we learned that Peter O'Toole passed away. So tonight I took out my favorite Peter O'Toole film -- this one -- and enjoyed watching it once again.

I know that most people point to "Lawrence Of Arabia" because of its scope, and indeed it is a fine film...although not one of my favorites (although O'Toole is brilliant in it). But let's not forget that he was nominated for an Academy Award for this film, as well.

Why is this my favorite O'Toole film? Because it's nice to see an actor not taking himself quite so seriously. And most of O'Toole's films were damned serious. This is rollicking fun, and as O'Toole' character points out early in the film, "Death is easy, comedy is hard." And indeed, that is so true. Comedy is tough! And that shows O'Toole's brilliance all the more, because we are used to seeing him in dramas. So I feel that here he is at his very best, challenged by being an actor who is acting funny, rather than a comedian doing what comedians do.

The script, too, is brilliant. It seems to be based loosely on when Errol Flynn guested on Sid Caesar's comedy show...not that there were the fireworks that are portrayed here in this film. But, as hilarious as it is, it's also a very touching film. A washed alcoholic actor who can still buckle his swash. An estranged father who hasn't the courage to talk to his daughter. And a young man given the responsibility of managing an actor gone wild...and their adventures in Brooklyn and at a dinner party. It isn't just a funny movie. It's got real heart mixed in with the laughs...and I do laugh out loud when I watch this film.

Mark Linn-Baker, an actor I've never seen in any other movie or television show (although I know he has been in several) is just right as the young studio aide whose job it is to manage O'Toole's character. Joseph Bologna is great as the Caesar-ish comedian. I enjoyed seeing the wonderful singer Lainie Kazan as Linn-Baker's mother. And Lou Jacobi as the uncle. I was very interested to see Adolph Green -- the famous composer -- as the television show's director. And Selma Diamond as the wardrobe woman. And Gloria Stuart -- as in "Titanic" -- as a lady at a nightclub.

But, Peter O'Toole, on this sad day for your friends and family and fans, you made me laugh out loud once again. Thank you.
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10/10
One of My Favorite Movies
doctardis26 January 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Mel Brooks wrote this based on his experiences working as a junior comedy writer on Sid Caesar's "Your show of shows." The first time I saw this movie I laughed from beginning to end. Mark Lynn Baker plays the Benji Stone (the young Brooks) whose real name is Stoneberg. He has the right innocence for role. He gives a great performance. But this movie is Peter O'Toole's. He plays a larger then life Earol Flynn character. He is drunk and about to be thrown out of the country by the IRS. He teaches young Stone the difference between the man and the star, and how stardom sometimes overtakes the man's own identity. One of high point of the movie is when Baker takes O'toole have dinner in his mother's apartment in Brooklyn. O'toole also coaches Baker on getting the girl of his dreams, played by Jessica Harper. One of the great scenes has Mark Lynn Baker trying to teach Harper how to tell a joke. All this takes place with the backdrop of late 1950's television. A time where TV was still a novelty. Every scene makes you at least smile, and most make you laugh out loud. Richard Benjiman show great skill as a director even though this one of his earliest films. I guess all those years as an actor paid off behind the camera as well.
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10/10
My Favorite Year; My Favorite Movie
mlktrout15 April 2012
I was in Germany when the film came out so didn't see it for the first time until 1984 or so, but I have seen it probably almost every year since then. I should have it memorized by now, but somehow each viewing I find something new and special. I've loved it since the first time I saw it.

There is little I can add to the basic story--a washed-up Errol Flynn type of action movie star goes on a live television comedy program in the 1950s. O'Toole is just masterful in the part and according to director Benjamin, he even insisted on doing all his own stunts (some of which were dangerous!). I could believe him as a movie hero and as a real-life washout.

Joseph Balogna is just hysterical as the Sid Caesar TV star, rough, bombastic, occasionally mean, but kind under the crust, and utterly fearless. I grinned at every sight of him.

Mark Linn-Baker is superb as the kid from Brooklyn who finds himself rubbing shoulders with his childhood hero and discovering the statue has feet of clay. His embarrassment over his background and his weird family rings true and yet are hilarious; I forget the name of the actress who plays his mother, but she is screamingly funny.

I just can't say how much I love this movie, how inspiring I find it, how it touches my heart. But it's my favorite movie, and in a house where we own something like 5,000 movies and most of our conversations contain at least one movie quote, this film is quoted almost daily, so that's saying something.
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10/10
"My FAVORITE Movie"
McHack22 June 1999
This is, by far, my favorite movie of all time! I was twelve years old when my parents took me and my brother to see this terrific film in a nearly empty movie theater on Long Island. We had heard so many stories from my parents about Sid Caesar, Jackie Gleason and Milton Berle, yet I never knew what to expect from this film. I nearly died laughing watching "my family" during the dinner scene, and I bursted out with joy during the finale. Seventeen years and countless times reliving those moments later, they STILL make me laugh!! Seeing Lou Jacobi on screen brings back so many memories of my grandfather, and watching Benjy Stone only makes me wish more and more that I would, one day, switch places with him. If you ask me what my dream job would be, I would DEFINITELY choose writing for "Your Show of Shows."
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8/10
Nice look at early TV "Your Show of Shows" with Sid Caesar...
Doylenf11 June 2006
PETER O'TOOLE is the nominal star of this brisk farce about an alcoholic action hero (based on Errol Flynn, in case anyone doubts it), given the fictitious name of Alan Swann. When he is assigned to appear in a live TV show as guest star, his reputation for booze gets him assigned to the care of Benjy Stone (MARK LINN-BAKER), a Brooklyn kid whose job it is to protect O'Toole from further exploits with the bottle so that he can perform as scheduled before a live audience.

That's basically the plot, derived from a true-life situation involving Errol Flynn's appearance on, presumably, Sid Caesar's Saturday night live show, "Your Show of Shows". In the film, we have Joseph BOLOGNA in the Sid Caeasar role, an egotistical bully in over-sized suits who struts around bellowing orders to everyone. And once the tale leaves the studio to the home of Benjy Stone's abode in Brooklyn, the comedy gets into even higher gear for laughter--thanks largely to LAINIE KAZAN as Benjy's Jewish mother.

Well paced, stacked with laughs, and played to the hilt by an ingratiating cast of comic professionals. Richard Benjamin can take a bow for directing this with flourish.

Peter O'Toole gives one of his best, wickedly funny performances as the matinée idol who finds it hard to separate his adventurous screen self from real life. He performs his various pratfalls and stunts (or someone else does) with apparent ease. While O'Toole is great, his co-star, Mark Linn-Baker comes close to stealing several scenes with comic finesse.

Trivia note: That's GLORIA STUART as the lady at the Stork Club that O'Toole dances with. She played "old Rose" in TITANIC.

A barrel of laughs, well worth viewing--and nostalgic for those of us who remember Sid Caesar's Saturday night antics.
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9/10
Delightful!
AvhHines3 August 2006
The supporting cast of this movie is almost flawless (Mark Lynn-Baker is a little too frantic in some of the more slapstick moments, but VERY good when simply being sarcastically funny or very sincere). With the exception noted above, there isn't a missed beat from a single cast member, and Bologna and Kazan are particularly notable.

But the movie belongs to Peter O'Toole, and, as in The Stunt Man (made a few years earlier), when he's on screen you can barely take your eyes off him. Whether being hysterically funny or terribly sad, he owns the screen from start to finish. From the first shot of him, waking up embracing what he thinks is an unremembered lover from the drunken night before, and staring in bewilderment and near terror as he realizes that it's not a girl at all but a furry THING (a teddy bear), to the last shot of him as he accepts an ovation from the studio audience in probably the only truly serene joy he's had in decades, he is utterly perfect and utterly compelling. Richard Benjamin may have directed well, the script may have been terrific, the supporting performers excellent, but this movie could not have been what it was without O'Toole's presence and brilliance.

It's hard to imagine a more enjoyable way to spend an hour and a half than in watching this movie. There are so many little jokes, so many big jokes, such lovely and REAL touching moments. It is, despite its occasional hilarity, a very gentle and loving movie; there's just no meanness in it, which is a very pleasant and rather unusual thing, especially in a comedy. Well worth watching and re-watching. You'll love it. Your parents and/or grandparents will love it, and you wouldn't be embarrassed to show it to them.
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10/10
This Movie Holds Up!
ldaniels-520 March 2006
After 20+ years, the characters, the situations, the wise-cracks....they are still funny! The plain faced (matzoh punim) Benjamin Stone seems to meet his demise at several turns in the film only to be lifted out of the mire by his new friend Alan Swann. The dinner scene in Brooklyn is priceless and is surely quoted often at Passover seders. The climactic fight scene in front of a live TV audience is inspired writing and gifted acting working in parallel. Like most movies, it's the small details that you often miss that stay with you. The youngest writer who wears sports coats three sizes too big...the big shot TV star who tries to pacify an angry female staff member by offering to send over several pair of used shoes...the diversion in a restaurant to help Alan steal away with a thug's girlfriend to the tune of "Somebody Stole My Gal!"

You cannot miss this movie!
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10/10
Peter the Great
jjnxn-125 June 2013
Exuding charm in every frame this is a lovingly made evocation of the early years of live television. Perfectly cast in every role and with a wonderful sense of period this will captivate you from the first scene all the way through to the touching finale.

Director Benjamin wisely filled his parts with only one star and the rest talented character actors, anything else would have thrown the balance of the film off. Of those character actors all are terrific but a few stand out. Mark Linn Baker is ideal as Benjy, the schlubby protagonist, Lainie Kazan a scream as his mother and Selma Diamond a no nonsense delight as the wardrobe woman with her ever present cigarette dangling from her lips. Though she doesn't have much of a part keep an eye out for Gloria Stuart in a lovely scene dancing with Peter O'Toole.

All of them and the other cast members are wonderful but the film wouldn't mean a thing if the part of Alan Swann wasn't believably cast. Fortunately the film makers were able to get Peter O'Toole, radiating star quality and charisma, and he could not possibly be better. Tender, humorous, dramatic, almost always over the top and also always a bit sad this is without question some of his best work in a career full of great performances. The fact that O'Toole himself at times behaved off camera as the character does in the film only adds to the pleasure of his work.

A beautiful jewel of a film.
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9/10
"Dying is easy.......Comedy is hard!"
leniecolacino8 February 2012
So says Alan Swann and he is so right. Peter O'Toole shows that there is a great actor inside of a great comedic performance. His remarkable portrayal of Swann stands out among all his other performances because Swann, in so many ways, is a thinly veiled O'Toole. His timing, physical grace and delivery rival the all time greats including Chaplin, Laurel, and Gleason. The pacing, casting and plot are expertly woven by director Richard Benjamin to create an inside look at early T. V. production and a crazy Jewish family. The scene of Swan attending dinner in Brooklyn with staff writer Benjy Stone's family is one of the funniest in screen history due in equal parts to the fantastic performances of O'Toole, Lou Jacobi (as a scene-stealing "Uncle Mortie") and Lainie Kazan as the mother of all Jewish mothers. As Swann, O'Toole manages to be loathsome, endearing, infuriating, charming and vulnerable. Kudos to Bill Macy as Benjy's crass boss and Joseph Bologna as the hot-tempered but indomitable King Kaiser. My Favorite Year never disappoints in delivering laughs and perhaps a sentimental tear as well.
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A forgotten gem!
jbelkin80025 August 2001
One of the greatest comedies of all time.

This movie is overlooked but it's brilliant in every aspect. It is a throwback comedy that neatly replicates Billy Wilder or Preston Sturges.

Peter O'Toole is a boozing matinee idol past his prime forced to appear on a variety show in the 1950s to pay off a tax debt. His reputation is not sterling so the young writer who's a huge fan is assigned to watch him and to make sure he arrives on "show-day."

Hilarity ensues. In 99% of the cases, that's just wishful thinking - in this case, hilarity actually ensues.

There are subplots within subplots and they ALL PAY OFF.

There is wild overacting by some of the greatest character actors of all time AND it's all great.

This is based on Mel Brooks early work-life on YOUR SHOW OF SHOWS so you also get a great glimpse at life behind the scenes of early TV.

If you've never seen this movie, you're lucky - because you get to see it for the first time.

Go Now!
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9/10
Not just a tribute to Errol Flynn, but a redemption
antagonist11719 July 2014
Warning: Spoilers
First Errol Flynn was the consummate Hollywood action hero, and then he was the consummate Hollywood has-been. The substance abuse, the wrecked relationships, the legal scandals; by the end of his life he was a guy who needed a lot of rehabilitating. "My Favorite Year" is a posthumous rehabilitation of Flynn, and it is also a sweet and funny tall tale about what his redemption might have looked like had it happened during his lifetime. Flynn's actual appearance on the 1950s variety show where Mel Brooks was a young writer came and went without incident, but in "My Favorite Year" that forgettable television moment is reimagined as one huge, crazy, boozy incident worthy of Peter O'Toole in his hellraising days. O'Toole infuses all of Flynn stand-in "Alan Swann"'s lines, every flourish of his hands, every drunken stagger, with a precise mixture of charm and pain.

The story is mostly a buddy comedy of the sort that thrives on the emotional closeness of its characters. Maybe a supremely irresponsible person like Swann, whose insecurities cause him to limit his relationships to the categories of one-night stands and autograph sessions, wouldn't really tolerate the presence of a straight-laced worrywart like the Mel Brooks stand-in for days and nights on end. But in the movies, opposites attract, and here they make a good pair. The young writer gets to meet his hero, and although Swann is a case in point of why it's not always best to do that, the movie argues that the hero is always there, in a way, inside the less-than-heroic has- been. Swann is self-destructive, yes, but with each new failure comes a chance for one more last hurrah, one more horse to jump on and ride into the sunset, one more crowd to win over. O'Toole is heartbreaking when he shows Swann's weakness and vulnerability, and this makes each new triumph, however modest, all the more inspiring. At the high points, the young writer is the necessary sidekick, a witness to a performance that exists solely to be seen and applauded, and when the cycle returns to darkness and doubt he is the hero's conscience. It's an old formula, but it works.

Between the party-crashing, horse-stealing vignettes, there is a by-the- book romance storyline and an organized crime farce. Both are simple fare, but they do a lot to raise the stakes of Swann's television appearance and to set an amiable atmosphere through a vibrant supporting cast and obvious but endearing jokes and set- pieces. The movie's various threads all crash together in a big finish that is predictable, and not believable, but very satisfying, entertaining, and moving—not unlike a great Errol Flynn movie.

Replete with tributes to Flynn's filmography, "My Favorite Year" is a must-see for fans of the Australian-born swashbuckler. "Captain Blood," "Dodge City," and "The Adventures of Robin Hood" are repeatedly and lovingly referenced, under thinly-disguised alternate titles, and the iconic scene from the ending of "Robin Hood" is recreated in astonishing detail, complete with a Basil Rathbone lookalike.
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