My Favorite Year
My Favorite Year, a slight but sweet backstage comedy, now provides three levels of nostalgia: for the era of swashbuckling stars like Errol Flynn; for the golden age of TV that supplanted it; and for the presence of Peter O’Toole, who has existed under the motion-picture radar since his pitch-perfect, Oscar-nominated turn here as an aging matinee idol boozing through an appearance on a ”Your Show of Shows”-type program in 1954.
Mark Linn-Baker is satisfactory as the neophyte gag writer (purportedly based on Mel Brooks) who’s loyal to his tarnished hero, but Joseph Bologna’s send-up of Sid Caesar is priceless. O’Toole’s caricature of old-Hollywood bad boys feels even more melancholic when you realize that ”Lawrence of Arabia” made him a star only two decades earlier, before his own drinking contributed to a long fallow period.
While the DVD transfer gives the movie’s stardust-filled New York City a beautiful sheen, the only real extra is a commentary by Richard Benjamin, the actor who made his screen directorial debut here. Benjamin’s stories about his star (like how O’Toole chose, in one terrific scene, to ditch the script’s superfluous jokes to tell a wistfully honest story about an Irish lad who stumbled upon acting and celebrity) rescue his commentary from tedium, just as O’Toole’s regal rumpot saves the whole film.