PG, 92 min.
Director: Richard Benjamin
Writers: Norman Steinberg, Dennis Palumbo
Starring: Mark Linn-Baker, Peter O’Toole, Jessica Harper, Joseph Bologna, Bill Macy, Lainie Kazan, Anne De Salvo, Basil Hoffman, Lou Jacobi, Adolph Green, Tony DiBenedetto, George Wyner, Selma Diamond
When I was a kid—long before I had developed my infatuation with cinema—“My Favorite Year” played a for a little while on HBO in one of their endless loops of movies that played over and over. I loved it. I watched this movie just about every time I could catch it. I didn’t know who Peter O’Toole was. I didn’t know anything about those variety television programs of television’s golden era. I hadn’t seen any of the swashbuckling movies that O’Toole’s character was supposed to have been a star of. I didn’t know that 30 Rock was a real place. I didn’t know there was any cultural difference between Jewish people and WASPs like myself, and I certainly didn’t drink. But, for some reason I loved this movie.
Like many of the classic movies this one takes its premise from, this one was obviously made mostly on Hollywood studio lots. It has that wacky feel of an old timey live radio show, but with pictures. O’Toole is as brilliant as ever as an early studio star who has passed his sell by date. Lainie Kazan—whom I would meet later in life—was brilliant as the Jewish mother of the central character, a first year writer on the variety show on which O’Toole’s character appears. I believe she just reprised her role over and over again throughout her career, but she was great at it.