My Favorite Year

Peter O’Toole died a few days ago, and there are tributes everywhere. Mostly for his most famous performance, in Lawrence of Arabia. But here I want to celebrate a comic performance that has given me pleasure for 40 years: in My Favorite Year (1982).

On O’Toole:

(2 August 1932 – 14 December 2013) He achieved stardom playing T. E. Lawrence in Lawrence of Arabia (1962) for which he received his first Academy Award nomination. He received seven further Oscar nominations – for Becket (1964), The Lion in Winter (1968), Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969), The Ruling Class (1972), The Stunt Man (1980), My Favorite Year (1982) and Venus (2006) – and holds the record for the most Academy Award acting nominations without a win. (Wikipedia link)

and on the movie:

My Favorite Year is a 1982 American comedy film written by Dennis Palumbo and Norman Steinberg, and directed by Richard Benjamin, which tells the story of a young comedy writer. It stars Peter O’Toole, Mark Linn-Baker, Jessica Harper, Joseph Bologna, Lou Jacobi, Bill Macy, Lainie Kazan, Selma Diamond, Cameron Mitchell, and Gloria Stuart.

… Benjy Stone (Mark Linn-Baker), the narrator, tells of the summer (in his “favorite year” of 1954) he met his idol, swashbuckling actor Allan Swann (Peter O’Toole). In the early days of television, Benjy works as a junior comedy writer for a variety show starring Stan “King” Kaiser (Joseph Bologna). As a special upcoming guest, they get the still famous (though largely washed-up) Swann. However, when he shows up, they realize that he is a roaring drunk. Kaiser is ready to dump him, until Benjy intervenes and promises to keep him sober during the week leading up to the show. (Wikipedia link)

The Swann character represents Errol Flynn, and the King Kaiser show represents Sid Caesar’s Your Show of Shows. But in neither case accurately.

The trailer for the movie is here:

And you can find clips from the movie on YouTube.

(To take away: “I’m not an actor, I’m a movie star!”)

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