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Richard Benjamin
Peter O'Toole, Mark Linn-Baker, Jessica Harper
Dennis Palumbo, Norman Steinberg

A dissolute matinee idol is slated to appear on a live TV variety show.

Rated PG.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA Mono
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 92 min.
Price: $21.99
Release Date: 9/17/2019

• Audio commentary With Director Richard Benjamin
• Trailers


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My Favorite Year [Blu-Ray] (1982)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 2, 2019)

Peter O’Toole experienced a minor resurgence in the early Eighties. After the noted disaster that was Caligula, O’Toole rebounded with 1980’s The Stunt Man. He then made My Favorite Year in 1982, and that movie went on to be a moderate hit.

After that, he acted in 1984’s Supergirl - oops! So much for the comeback!

O’Toole would appear in 1986’s reasonably funny Club Paradise, though, and he also showed up in 1987’s Oscar-winning , but otherwise, he continued to work in fairly low-profile flicks for much of his remaining career.

I always thought it was a shame that O’Toole faded from the public eye so significantly. He often presented a lively and powerful screen presence of the sort we simply don’t see too often these days, as there’s a loose roguishness about him that modern actors seem to lack.

Frankly, I knew little about O’Toole when My Favorite Year opened in 1982, so his presence had little impact on my desire to see the film. I know I wanted to check it out but never did, for reasons that escape me.

Year takes place in 1954 and deals with a hit TV program called King Kaiser’s Comedy Cavalcade. Benjy Stone (Mark Linn-Baker) serves as a junior writer on the show, and he appears excited when faded matinee idol Alan Swann (O’Toole) will make a guest appearance on the series.

However, when Swann arrives at the studio drunk, Kaiser (Joseph Bologna) wants to dump him. Only Stone’s pleas of pity change Kaiser’s mind, but one caveat remains: Stone must make sure that Swann shows up for all the necessary work.

Thus begins Stone’s escapades with the loose cannon film swashbuckler. As Stone attempts to shepherd the actor, the two go through a variety of mini-adventures, and Swann’s inspiration seems to help Benjy in other ways.

For example, Benjy finally gets somewhere with his long-unrequited love KC (Jessica Harper). Swann learns something from the interactions as well, and he finally starts to sober up - figuratively and literally - and deal with real life.

Although My Favorite Year seems like a good movie as a whole, O’Toole provides its strongest element. He basically plays Errol Flynn as channeled through himself, and he makes the role work swimmingly well.

O’Toole handles the many bits of physical comedy with aplomb and seems loose and lively in all ways. He can be suave and debonair as necessary, but he also adds heart to this solid performance.

Most of the supporting cast seems positive as well, though I feel lukewarm toward Linn-Baker. Perhaps it’s the fact that the lines around his mouth make him look like a ventriloquist’s dummy, but the actor often annoys me. However, he maintains a good rapport with O’Toole, so I think he does fine in the role.

Most of the cast maintains a sense of slight cartoonishness that works for the film. They play the parts slightly larger than life, but Year maintains a connection with reality, so it never degenerates into pure silliness. The comedy keeps the plot moving, but the human connections make it memorable.

The film also benefits from its warm feeling toward its era. The flick portrays a New York of modest fantasy, so it never seems like Oz, but it’s clear that the movie gives it an idealized air.

That works for the flick, since the piece never asserts that it wants to paint a realistic picture of the era. Year exists as nostalgic figment, and it works well in that regard.

Overall, My Favorite Year offers a pleasant and charming experience. The movie presents a light and amusing piece that benefits from an excellent cast. In particular, Peter O’Toole makes the movie more compelling, as he adds a layer of depth to this lively and winning flick.

The Disc Grades: Picture B / Audio B- / Bonus B-

My Favorite Year appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Overall, the picture seemed dated but positive.

Shot with filters to give it a somewhat airy feel, sharpness didn’t seem dynamic. However, the image showed appropriate delineation most of the time, with only a few oddly soft shots on display.

I saw no jagged edges or moiré effects, and I also noticed no instances of edge enhancement. Print flaws remained absent, and a nice layer of grain implied no egregious use of digital noise reduction.

Due to the photographic choices I mentioned, colors tended to feel diffuse. The movie went with a fairly brown-red feel, and the disc replicated the tones as intended.

Black levels were fairly deep and dense, and shadow detail also looked acceptably defined. Though never a showcase presentation, the Blu-ray brought the movie in an appropriate manner.

I found the DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack of My Favorite Year to also seem more than adequate given the film’s vintage and ambitions. Dialogue remained intelligible and distinct throughout the movie, with only a smidgen of edginess on display.

Effects played a fairly minor role in the film, and came across with adequate clarity. Music sounded reasonably full, though I couldn’t claim the score showed terrific range. Like the picture, the audio didn’t dazzle, but it worked fine.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the DVD from 2002? Audio felt a bit richer and clearer, while visuals appeared cleaner, tighter and warmer. The movie’s vintage and goals meant the track lacked much impact, but it seemed fine.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we find an audio commentary from director Richard Benjamin. He offers a running, screen-specific piece that usually works quite well.

Too much space passes between remarks at times, but this doesn’t become a significant issue. Benjamin largely focuses on the actors during his chat. He goes over the casting of the performers and also relates some insights into their work, usually in regard to O’Toole.

Benjamin also adds his own perspective and some of the challenges behind the film. Benjamin makes this commentary reasonably lively and informative.

37 years after its initial release, My Favorite Year remains a charming and entertaining piece. The movie presents a nostalgic New York of fantasy and it seems winning and likable from start to finish, largely due to a terrific performance from Peter O’Toole. The Blu-ray offers fairly good picture and sound plus a small roster of extras highlighted by a pretty informative audio commentary. Year remains a charmer.

To rate this film, visit the DVD review of MY FAVORITE YEAR

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