My Favorite Year

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Hollywood was on a nostalgia kick back in the early 1980s, along with that swords and sorcery trend that was so popular due to the newest trend in RPGS, but those are not the movies we are here to talk about. This fun sleeper was pure comedy about television comedy back in the day. The year is 1954, and the location is 30 Rock. Yes, it’s been around that long. The focus of this story is about a junior writer for a live comedy variety show. Benjy Stone (Mark Linn-Baker) writes for the King’s Comedy Calvalcade. He works with a team of writers that can hardly ever see eye to eye. The head writer is Sy Benson (Bill Macy), and the other writer on the team are Myron Fein (George Wyner), Alice Miller (Anne De Salvo), and Herb Lee (Basil Hoffman). Their boss, and the star of the show is King Kaiser (Joseph Bologna), and he has the last say so on any of the material that this team gives him. There is a special guest star coming in this week. The movie star, Alan Swann (Peter O’Toole) is going to join King and the cast this Saturday night. The only person whom seems to have some kind of wisdom in them is the wise-cracking costume director, Lil (Selma Diamond).

Swann used to be quite the swashbuckling dashing hero in his movies, but now the charming Scotsman would rather curl up with a bottle of Pinch and a willing comely woman than fly across pirate ships and cross swords these days. Sy can’t stand the fact that this lush is going to be on the show, and thinks all Swann’s movies are a load of *use handy expletive here*. The thing is, Benjy is a big fan of Swann’s and does not want to lose this opportunity to get close to his favourite movie star.

Then there is King Kaiser himself. The man is a legend on the small screen. He’s cute, and he’s really funny, and all of America adores him. Lately, he has been running some skits on the show that certain local personalities have taken offense to. The character of Boss Hijack has been supposedly inspired by a ruthless union boss, Karl Rojeck (Cameron Mitchell), and King does not want to remove the skits from the show. The audiences love them because they are funny, and funny rules King Kaiser’s televised little kingdom.

After some words with King about Alan Swann’s reputation, and much pleading from Benjy, King agrees to keep Swann on the show, as long as he shows up for all the rehearsals sober. Benjy becomes his babysitter, and soon the aging, rambunctious drunk and the green kid become the best of friends, breaking through culture barriers. Swann advises Benjy on how to woo his love interest, K.C. Downing (Jessica Harper), and before Benjy knows it, a simple date is successful. Benjy is a simple guy from a Jewish home in Brooklyn, but his experience with this wild Scotsman for just this one week changes his life forever, and so it is no wonder that 1954 is Benjy Stone’s favourite year.

I give this film a Musing review of ★★★★☆☆