Benjy Stone is the junior writer on the top rated variety/comedy show, in the mid 50s (the early years). Its a new medium and the rules were not fully established. Alan Swann, an Erol Flynn type actor with a drinking problem is to be that weeks guest star. When King Kaiser, the headliner wants to throw Swann off the show, Benjy makes a pitch to save his childhood hero, and is made Swann’s babysitter. On top of this, a union boss doesn’t care for Kaiser’s parody of him and has plans to stop the show.
My Favorite Year is a 1982 American comedy film written by Dennis Palumbo and Norman Steinberg, and directed by Richard Benjamin, which tells the story of a young comedy writer. It stars Peter O’Toole, Mark Linn-Baker, Jessica Harper, and Joseph Bologna. O’Toole was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor. The film was adapted into an unsuccessful 1992 Broadway musical of the same name.
About the Story
Benjy Stone (Mark Linn-Baker), the narrator, tells of the summer (in his “favorite year” of 1954) he met his idol, swashbuckling actor Allan Swann (Peter O’Toole). In the early days of television, Benjy works as a junior comedy writer for a variety show starring Stan “King” Kaiser (Joseph Bologna). As a special upcoming guest, they get the still famous (though largely washed-up) Swann. However, when he shows up, they realize that he is a roaring drunk. Kaiser is ready to dump him, until Benjy intervenes and promises to keep him sober during the week leading up to the show.
As Benjy watches out for Swann (or at least tries to keep up with him), they learn much about each other, including the fact that they both have family they try to hide from the rest of the world. In Benjy’s case, it’s his Jewish mother (Lainie Kazan), who is married to a Filipino former bantamweight boxer, Rookie Carroca (Ramon Sison), and Benjy’s embarrassing relatives, such as uncouth Uncle Morty (Lou Jacobi). For Swann, it is his young daughter, Tess (Cady McClain), who has been raised entirely by her mother, one of his many ex-wives. He stays away, but continues to keep tabs on her secretly, frustrated that he cannot muster the courage to reconnect with her.
During the week of rehearsals, Kaiser is threatened by corrupt union boss Karl Rojeck (Cameron Mitchell), who does not appreciate being parodied on the show. “Accidents” start happening when Kaiser refuses to stop performing the “Boss Hijack” sketches. In a subplot, Benjy tries, clumsily and over-enthusiastically, to win the affections of co-worker K. C. Downing (Jessica Harper). Swann advises him on the right approach, which includes crashing a party at the home of K.C.’s affluent parents.
My Favorite Year (1982)
Directed by: Richard Benjamin
Starring: Peter O’Toole, Mark Linn-Baker, Jessica Harper, Joseph Bologna, Lainie Kazan, Anne De Salvo, Cameron Mitchell, Selma Diamond
Screenplay by: Norman Steinberg, Dennis Palumbo
Production Design by: Charles Rosen
Cinematography by: Gerald Hirschfeld
Film Editing by: Richard Chew
Costume Design by: May Routh
Set Decoration by: Donald J. Remacle
Music by: Ralph Burns
Distributed by: Metro Goldwyn Mayer, United Artists
Release Date: October 1, 1982