Movie Reviews

My Favorite Year: A Retro Retrospective Comedy about a Comedy Show

This is film back in the ’80s was a film about a fictional 1950’s variety hour comedy show guest starring a problematic actor on a random week of the show’s production. There’s more to the plot than that. It’s from the perspective of a young comedy writer in charge of getting the talent on air without fuss. His narration guides the film from the beginning of the film talking about how he talks about his favourite year at a television job in the summer of 1954 meeting his favourite swashbuckling idol from the movies as a junior comedy writer.

This was the directorial debut of Richard Benjamin who went to direct other films like The Money Pit (1986) and Made In America (1993). This film is one of those feel-good comedies to watch. It feels like a short film but everything just goes back very fast because the film is quick witted. The pacing is fine just a very layered story. Also, there’s no sex, nudity and excessive violence in this film. Nor there is anything about politics.

Screenshot of Benjy Stone looking at Alan Swann near a fire hose. Benjy is panicked with fear at what he is looking at. His shoulders are tensed up and his eyes are very enlarged.
Screenshot of Benjy Stone looking at Alan Swann near the fire hose.

My Favorite Year is very loosely inspired on the 1950’s Sid Caesar show Your Show of Shows that had Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Neil Simon, Larry Gelbart and Woody Allen writing for the show early in their careers. The writers, producers and executives that once worked on the legendary show worked as inspiration for a lot of the small characters in the film. The writer who whispers to another writer to vocally communicate with the head writer was somewhat based on a writer that once worked on the Caesar show.

Screenshot of Alan Swann looking at himself in a previous movie on the screen behind him.
Screenshot of Alan Swann looking at himself in a previous movie on the screen behind him.

The characters King Kaiser, Benjy Stone and Alan Swann were inspired by Sid Caesar, Woody Allen and Errol Flynn. The premise of the story was based on the one time visit of Errol Flynn to the show and Woody Allen meeting one of his idols. The real meeting was uneventful. It never involved anyone going on many adventures into the city night at restaurants, rooftops or your mom’s house. That were the creative writing comes in. The character of Alan Swann was a combination of Errol Flynn and Peter O’Toole; combining the rumours of Errol Flynn’s boat parties and Peter O’Toole’s drunk on set antics. The script and portrayal are very lighthearted and funny. Peter O’Toole plays a very drunk, insightful mentor to the young writer. The introduction of the character is a combination of past film roles that were spoofs of Captain Blood and The Adventures of Robin Hood originally starring Errol Flynn. And with the character waking up with a young flight attendant in a drunken stupor.

Screenshot of King Kaiser and the mob boss on the couch during a lawyer visit at the office. King Kaiser is copying the mob boss's actions beside him by holding the cigar with his elbow bent on the head of the couch and the cigar near his mouth. Kaiser is looking at the mob boss smugly while the mob boss is looking at Kaiser with curiously at his actions.
Screenshot of King Kaiser and the mob boss on the couch during a lawyer visit at the office.

King Kaiser is loosely based on Sid Caesar. The movie has King Kaiser getting in trouble impersonating a mob boss (with slight resemblances to Jimmy Hoffa) on his show with the lawyer reading him legal papers while mimicking him smoke a cigar. He wanted the sketch he wrote “The Boss Hijack” sketch to be performed on his show parodying him but he was offended of the portrayal. A lot of odd accidents and sabotage happened when he refused to shelf the script. King Kaiser is the loud and demanding boss that wants his ideas heard.

A lot of the side characters are very interesting and fully formed. Swann’s driver, Alfie Bumbacelli, knows Swann the longest and seen him at some of his worst moments. He is a character that is filled is exposition but not in the film all the time. Stone’s love interest, is an assistant on the show. Stone’s mother is a remarried middle-aged Jewish woman who just wants his real name to be credited on the end credit screen.

The film is filled with one-liners, comebacks and jokes in the dialogue. There’s no part in the movie that every character has at least something funny to say. Just in dialogue responding to a situation gives a moment to say something humorous. There are a few sight gags that are just funny. The one that’s used in all of the advertisements is Swann jumping off of the roof with a fire hose while a panicking Stone is watching him. They are funny when you see them and notice them. Like why is that woman in a wedding dress at a dinner party? He said dress in your best dress but really that dress. 😂

Trailer for My Favorite Year (1982)

Genre: Comedy
Year: 1982
Duration: 92 minutes

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Five out of five stars

All screenshots are from the film. Film production by Warner Bros. Pictures.

2 comments on “My Favorite Year: A Retro Retrospective Comedy about a Comedy Show

  1. This is a terrific film that isn’t as well known as it should be. I’m glad you featured it on your site – it’ll likely garner new fans. 🙂

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