HTF REVIEW: "My Favorite Year" (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Jun 25, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    [​IMG]

    My Favorite Year




    Studio: Warner Brothers
    Year: 1982
    Rated: PG
    Film Length: 92 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.85:1)



    "Dying is easy. Comedy is hard"
    The good news is that Warner Brothers has
    finally gotten around to releasing another
    one of those catalog gems that have been on
    the demand lists of collectors for quite some
    time now. The bad news is that the disc falls
    a little short of expectations. More in a moment.
    [​IMG]
    It is the 1950s. Television is at its zenith
    and comedy is king. Nobody could be happier
    than Benjy Stone (Mark Linn-Baker), a writer for
    one of NBC's top sketch comedy shows, Comedy
    Calvacade
    . He even has his eyes on the
    station's pretty gopher, K.C. Downing (Jessica
    Harper).
    Appearing this week on the show is Benji's
    all-time favorite actor, Alan Swann (Peter O'Toole),
    a former matinee star and swashbuckling action hero
    in the style of Errol Flynn who also happens to have
    a drinking problem. Benji's eyes just light up
    thinking about meeting his favorite swashbuckler.
    [​IMG]
    Problems begin, however, when Swann shows up at
    station totally plastered. When King Kaiser
    (Joseph Bologna) the show's headliner wants to
    throw Swann off the show, Benjy makes a pitch to
    save his childhood hero by promising to babysit
    him until showtime.
    [​IMG]
    If things weren't bad enough, King Kaiser has
    to deal with a hostile mob boss who isn't
    particularly happy about Kaiser doing TV sketch
    impressions of him.
    O'Toole briefly rejuvenated his career with
    his performance of sheer comedic energy, earning
    a Best Actor Academy Award nomination.
    [​IMG]
    Originally produced by Mel Brooks and Directed
    by Richard Benjaman, My Favorite Year is
    a zany tribute to the golden age of television
    where everything was live and anything can
    happen.
    How is the transfer?
    Little effort was put into making this transfer
    look exceptional. Instead, we get a mediocre
    transfer that just gets by.
    First of all, the entire transfer looks somewhat
    faded. Picture isn't very sharp and none of the
    colors look particularly natural with facial
    features taking on a reddish tint throughout.
    There's also a noticeable bit of video noise
    that shows up not only in darker scenes, but
    dark suits and even velvet wallpaper.
    The biggest problem I found comes at Chapter 18.
    Take a look at Swann & Stone looking over a
    balcony and you can see a distinct halo surrounding
    their characters. It looks god-awful. Moments
    later, as Swann hangs from a fire hose above a
    busy street below, you can clearly see the added
    effect elements.
    It doesn't look like much was done to clean this
    film up. There's even noticeable film blemishes
    throughout, particularly the dinner scene at
    the home of Benji's Mother, Belle Carroca
    (Lainie Kazan).
    The mono audio, while quite clear, is a little
    on the weak side. I found myself having to
    turn the sound up rather high during most of the
    dialogue scenes, and turning it back down when
    music appeared.
    Special Features
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    The film contains a full-length commentary by
    Director Richard Benjamin. Richard talks about
    nabbing Nat King Cole's Stardust for a theme
    song at a song, stating today it would be
    unaffordable. Benjamin tells us that he worked
    at NBC in his younger years, which made it so
    easy to film the picture there as he knew where
    everything was. Benjamin also recalls Mel
    Brook's input into this production, also knowing
    the comedy halls of NBC. O'Toole is given much
    credit by the Director for being able to play
    a comedic role. His stunts on the rooftop with
    a firehouse can be attributed to his knowledge
    of Buster Keaton comedies. O'Toole removed some
    of the comedy material that took place in Central
    Park, opting to have more realism brought out
    instead.
    There is a Cast & Crew Filmography
    included, and I should recommend you click
    on Peter O'Toole's bio to see what a wonderful
    and long career this actor had.
    The film's Original Trailer is also
    included.
    Final Thoughts
    While My Favorite Year doesn't stand
    out as being a particularly hilarious movie, it
    does stand out as being a wonderfully fun and
    entertaining movie that is highlighted by
    the great Peter O'Toole.
    It's a shame that the transfer isn't as good
    as it should be. This is one film I suppose
    we will buy despite its flaws.
    Release Date: July 9, 2002
     
  2. David Lambert

    David Lambert Executive Producer

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    Dang...this is one of my most-sought-after movies. I am only slightly less enthusiastic for this one than I was for Victor/Victoria. It's too bad that the transfer suffers the way you describe. Still, I guess I *have* to get it. But that puts me off. [​IMG]
     
  3. Peter Apruzzese

    Peter Apruzzese Producer

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    Nice review, Ron; this is one of my most-wanted titles. I played this one theatrically back in 1982 and that rooftop scene has *always* looked bad!
     
  4. Craig S

    Craig S Producer

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    This is a wonderful little gem of a movie, and I'm looking forward to getting it, despite the less-than-stellar transfer.
    It was funny to read this review and see the screenshots, having just seen Mark-Linn Baker in Minority Report over the weekend. Looks like his physique has gone through the same changes mine has over the past two decades! [​IMG]
     
  5. PaulaJ

    PaulaJ Supporting Actor

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    Where was Mark Linn-Baker in Minority Report? If you mean the Howard Marks character, that was Arye Gross.
     
  6. Michael Martin

    Michael Martin Screenwriter

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    Ron, thanks for the review. It is disappointing that the picture quality isn't superb, but at least it won't get worse with successive plays, ala VHS.
    This is a movie I watched over and over again as a young teen...I loved the great dialogue and delivery by all the cast members.
    "Lash me you swine, you'll not loosen my tongue!" [​IMG]
     
  7. Craig S

    Craig S Producer

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  8. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    Sy: "He's plastered!"
    Swann: "So are some of the finest erections in Europe"
    [​IMG]
    I've been waiting for this one for a long time. Sad about the transfer, but half a loaf and all that.
    For the benefit of our younger readers, and because Ron didn't mention it specifically in his review, it is clear that "King Kaiser" is based closely on Sid Caesar, and Comedy Cavalcade on Your Show of Shows and/or Caesar's Hour. At various times the writers on the Caesar shows included Neil Simon, Larry (M*A*S*H) Gelbart, Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks and Woody Allen. (And where the heck are those shows on DVD, or have I missed a release?) If you have never seen Sid Caesar get to the video store or local library and grab one of sketch compilations - they are hysterically funny. (With writers like those, why wouldn't they be?) My Favorite Year does a wonderful job evoking the atmosphere in the writer's room on a show like Caesar's, the competition for airtime, the problems of dealing with a tempermental and fundamentally insecure star and all the rest. (PBS did a special a few years ago called Caesar's Writers, which was a panel discussion including many of the names mentioned above. Some of their real stories could come straight out of My Favorite Year. I have the show on VHS, courtesy of a PBS pledge drive. [​IMG])
    Regards,
    Joe
     
  9. Peter Apruzzese

    Peter Apruzzese Producer

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    "Who are you to talk to me like 'dat you little Jiminy Cricket-pest-bastard!"

    "We're off to some far-off land known as Brooklyn."

    "Jolson's coming?!"

    "Double the lad's bet for me, you toad...."

    "There's *out* and then there's *out*."

    "I'm not an actor, I'm a movie star!"

    "Those must be his drinking socks."

    "I like the removal business!"

    ===

    Stop me now, I could quote from this movie all day long...
     
  10. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    I love Peter's sig!

    Meanwhile, I also love My Favorite Year--for some reason, it's the film's casual take on New York ethnicities it captures so beautifully. Wonderful little film. Buying.
     
  11. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    Woman from costume department (to Swann who has just entered the ladies' restroom by mistake): This is for ladies only
    Swann: (sound of zipper opening) And so, ma'am, is this. But every now and again I have to run a little water through it.
    :b
    Damn. I want to see it again right now. [​IMG]
    Joe
     
  12. David Lambert

    David Lambert Executive Producer

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  13. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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  14. David Lambert

    David Lambert Executive Producer

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    Easy...they suffered! [​IMG]
     
  15. Larry Geller

    Larry Geller Supporting Actor

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  16. Jeff Swindoll

    Jeff Swindoll Supporting Actor

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    I thought O'Toole was also supposed to be on the commentary?? Oh well, hilarious flick and it's been on pre-order since announced [​IMG]. Cheers.
     

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