Repertory Cinema Wishlist: My Favorite Year
Of course, that's where the resemblance to truth ends: In this incarnation, Peter O'Toole charms the audience in a tour de force comic performance as Alan Swann, the Flynn character, who arrives to meet Stan "King" Kaiser, the Caesar character (aptly played by Joseph Bologna), quite smashed. Kaiser wants to kick him off the show, but junior writer Benjy Stone (Mark Linn-Baker), an adoring fan, offers to take Swann under his wing and keep him off the drink until the show airs.
The influence of Sid Caesar's early television variety series Your Show of Shows runs deep, and the 1982 comedy My Favorite Year, inspired by an actual appearance on the show by the charming but washed-up actor Errol Flynn, plays like an inside joke. As with TV's The Dick Van Dyke Show from two decades earlier, Year's cast of zanies is based loosely on Caesar and his backstage entourage of writers, Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner among them. Brooks produced this film, which was directed by actor Richard Benjamin.
What follows is delightful: a series of pratfalls and picaresque New York City adventures turned both hysterically funny and sweetly serious by subplots involving Benjy's untouchable love interest, K. C. Downing (Jessica Harper), and crazy family (his mother hilariously played by Lanie Kazan), as well as Swann's daughter Tess, from whom he is estranged.
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