“My Favorite Year” (1982) dir. Richard Benjamin

One of the best films about the art / history of comedy, as well as the early days of TV is director Richard Benjamin’s hilarious and touching 1982 film “My Favorite Year.” The unspoken denominator in this enterprise is (uncredited) producer Mel Brooks. Mel Brooks was a comedy writer for Sid Caesar’s early TV show “Your Show of Shows,” which the film’s show within a show “The King Kaiser Show” is based on.

Mark Linn-Baker (as rookie writer Benjy Stone) is the obvious Brooks stand-in, trying to keep notorious debauched movie star Alan Swann (brilliantly played by Peter O’Toole based on debauched real-life movie star Errol Flynn) sober and on schedule for his appearance on the show. However, the constantly drunk Swann has other plans.

“My Favorite Year” may not be perfect … or even a great film, but it’s one of those films that always puts me in a good mood. And it earned Peter O’Toole a well-deserved Best Actor Oscar nomination in 1982.  The film also resurrected Lainie Kazan’s career, who plays Benjy’s overbearing, but loving mom.  Kazan resurrected the role in the 1992 Broadway musical adaptation of the film.

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