My Favorite Year (1982)

PG | 92 mins | Comedy | 8 October 1982

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HISTORY

The film opens with voice-over narration by actor Mark Linn-Baker’s character, “Benjy Stone,” and concludes with a voice-over epilogue, explaining that he accompanied “Alan Swann” to Connecticut to reunite with his daughter.
       End credits indicate that film segments from Peter O’Toole’s 1965 picture, Lord Jim (see entry), were provided “courtesy of Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.” Film segments from Catherine the Great (1934, see entry), named onscreen as The Great Catherine, were provided “courtesy of Keep Films, Ltd.”
       According to a 25 Oct 1981 LAT article, Mel Brooks conceived the story idea based on his experiences working as a young writer on Your Show of Shows (NBC, 1950—1954), but by the time screenwriter Norman Steinberg completed four drafts of the screenplay, “all the characters and events had been fictionalized.” However, an 8 Oct 1982 NYT article stated that Benjy Stone was modeled after Brooks, while Adolph Green’s “Leo Silver” was based on Your Show of Shows producer Max Liebman and “Stan ‘King’ Keiser” depicted the series’ star, Sid Caesar. Brooks’ production company, Brooksfilms Limited, is credited onscreen, but Brooks himself reportedly served as an advisor throughout all stages of production, from reviewing the script to assisting with editing after screening a rough cut. The 16 Jul 1982 Var listed him as the film’s executive producer, but he is not credited in that role onscreen.
       A 15 Oct 1980 DV item reported that Brooks, Steinberg, and actor-turned-debut director Richard Benjamin were negotiating with Albert Finney for the role of Alan Swann for a spring 1981 production start date, and the 7 Apr ... More Less

The film opens with voice-over narration by actor Mark Linn-Baker’s character, “Benjy Stone,” and concludes with a voice-over epilogue, explaining that he accompanied “Alan Swann” to Connecticut to reunite with his daughter.
       End credits indicate that film segments from Peter O’Toole’s 1965 picture, Lord Jim (see entry), were provided “courtesy of Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.” Film segments from Catherine the Great (1934, see entry), named onscreen as The Great Catherine, were provided “courtesy of Keep Films, Ltd.”
       According to a 25 Oct 1981 LAT article, Mel Brooks conceived the story idea based on his experiences working as a young writer on Your Show of Shows (NBC, 1950—1954), but by the time screenwriter Norman Steinberg completed four drafts of the screenplay, “all the characters and events had been fictionalized.” However, an 8 Oct 1982 NYT article stated that Benjy Stone was modeled after Brooks, while Adolph Green’s “Leo Silver” was based on Your Show of Shows producer Max Liebman and “Stan ‘King’ Keiser” depicted the series’ star, Sid Caesar. Brooks’ production company, Brooksfilms Limited, is credited onscreen, but Brooks himself reportedly served as an advisor throughout all stages of production, from reviewing the script to assisting with editing after screening a rough cut. The 16 Jul 1982 Var listed him as the film’s executive producer, but he is not credited in that role onscreen.
       A 15 Oct 1980 DV item reported that Brooks, Steinberg, and actor-turned-debut director Richard Benjamin were negotiating with Albert Finney for the role of Alan Swann for a spring 1981 production start date, and the 7 Apr 1981 Evening Outlook claimed that through Jan 1981, Benjamin considered delaying production until Finney concluded work on Annie (1982, see entry) at the end of the year. However, Peter O’Toole was cast instead, and principal photography was rescheduled for Aug 1981. The 3 Apr 1981 DV noted that preparations moved slowly, with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (M-G-M) wary of the possible 1 Jul 1981 Directors Guild of America (DGA) strike. Sets were expected to be built later that month. An 11 Dec 1981 HR story stated that pre-production also included four New York City location scouts by producer Michael Gruskoff, associate producer-unit production manager Art Levinson, and director of photography Gerald Hirschfeld. The article also listed first assistant director William S. Beasley as production designer, and NY unit production manager A. Kitman Ho as location manager. A 5 Oct 1981 Film Journal article stated that production was preceded by two weeks of rehearsal in CA, while the NYT story reported that O’Toole insisted on learning fencing—practicing two hours a day at New York City’s Essex House hotel—for the brief scenes featuring footage from Swann’s swashbuckling films.
       Production notes from AMPAS library files indicated that Benjamin first noticed Mark Linn-Baker during a public theater performance titled The Laundry Hour. My Favorite Year marked the actor’s motion picture debut. The 25 Nov 1981 DV noted that Harry Bill Roberts appeared in the film with his orchestra; although he is credited onscreen, the members of his orchestra are not. A 1 Oct 1981 HR brief listed Vance Davis among the cast, but he does not receive onscreen credit.
       A 13 Sep 1981 HR news item stated that production was in its third day of principal photography in New York City; however, 18 Sep 1981 HR production charts reported a 19 Sep 1981 start date. The item also erroneously listed Louisiana as a location. Production notes stated that filming took place on a Saturday in order to avoid the weekday rush both inside and outside of Rockefeller Plaza. The opening shot was filmed with a crane above Broadway and 50th Street, with optical effects added to recreate the city’s skyline as it would have looked in 1954. According to NYT, filming required the closure of numerous city blocks, the removal of modern traffic lights and lampposts, and the use of 300 background actors and fifty period automobiles. Despite the 13 Sep 1981 HR claim that My Favorite Year was expected to stay in New York City for several weeks— Film Journal estimated a location end date of 30 Sep 1981—the 11 Dec 1981 HR noted that production only lasted eight days. In that time, filming took place at Central Park, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Waldorf Towers, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Park Avenue. Production notes also included Radio City Music Hall, Shubert Alley, and night filming on Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn, NY. The interior of Swann’s hotel suite, a building rooftop, the sixth floor of NBC Studios, and the Stork Club restaurant were recreated on Stages 27 and 30 of M-G-M’s Culver City, CA, studios. A 5 Jan 1983 DV brief reported a final production budget of $7.9 million.
       An 8 Feb 1982 M-G-M memorandum indicated that principal photography lasted a total of fifty-eight days and concluded 8 Dec 1981, in anticipation of a 30 Jul 1982 domestic release. A revised memo dated 10 Mar 1982 rescheduled the release for 30 Aug 1982. According to the 8 Oct 1982 DV, M-G-M/United Artists test screened a 114-minute cut of the film on 28 Mar 1982 before the final version was completed Jul 1982 and previewed in screenings until Labor Day. A 14 Jun 1982 memo indicated that the film would be released in “selected engagements” Sep 1982. A 29 Sep 1982 M-G-M press release announced that Benjamin and actress Jessica Harper planned to participate in separate national promotional tours to precede the picture’s 1 Oct 1982 opening in NY, Los Angeles, CA, San Francisco, CA, Denver, CO, Philadelphia, PA, and Toronto, Canada. The film was then expected to open in over 600 theaters on 8 Oct 1982.
       As stated in a 12 Oct 1982 M-G-M press release, My Favorite Year had accumulated $2,783,008 in 715 theaters since its national release.
       The picture received largely favorable reviews and was nominated for Golden Globe Awards for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical, Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical (Peter O’Toole), and Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Motion Picture (Lainie Kazan). Peter O’Toole was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
15 Oct 1980.
---
Daily Variety
3 Apr 1981.
---
Daily Variety
16 Sep 1981.
---
Daily Variety
25 Nov 1981.
---
Daily Variety
8 Oct 1982.
---
Daily Variety
5 Jan 1983.
---
Evening Outlook
7 Apr 1981.
---
Film Journal
5 Oct 1981
p. 8, 15.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Sep 1981
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Sep 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
1 Oct 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
11 Dec 1981
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Sep 1982
pp. 3-4.
Los Angeles Times
25 Oct 1981
Calendar, p. 26.
Los Angeles Times
2 Oct 1982
p. 1.
New York Times
1 Oct 1982
p. 10.
New York Times
8 Oct 1982.
---
Variety
16 Jul 1982.
---
Variety
29 Sep 1982
p. 18, 20.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Featured player
Featured player
Featured player
Featured player
Featured player
Featured player
Featured player
Featured player
Featured player
Featured player
Featured player
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Presents
A Brooksfilms Limited and Michael Gruskoff Production
From MGM/UA Entertainment Co.
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
Unit prod mgr, New York crew
2d asst dir, New York crew
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Key grip
Gaffer
Still photog
Cam op, New York crew
2d asst cam, New York crew
Still photog, New York crew
Key grip, New York crew
2d grip/best boy
Dolly grip
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Prod illustrator
FILM EDITORS
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Const coord
Set dec, New York crew
Chief carpenter, New York crew
Leadman
Asst prop master
COSTUMES
Cost des
Ward supv
Women's costumer
Men's costumer
MUSIC
Mus ed
for La Da Productions
SOUND
Prod sd mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Supv sd ed
Sd eff ed
Dial ed
Asst sd ed
Sd mixer, New York crew
Boom man
Cable man
VISUAL EFFECTS
Graphics des
Matte painting by
Optical eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Stunt player
Los Angeles casting
New York casting
Scr supv
Loc mgr
Loc mgr
Prod auditor
Asst to the prod
Asst to Mr. Benjamin
Secy to the prod
Prod secy
Prod asst
Prod asst
Asst to Mr. Steinberg
Loc mgr, New York crew
Prod coord, New York crew
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Asst auditor
Secy to prod
STAND INS
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
[Col by]
Col timer
SOURCES
SONGS
"Stardust," music by Hoagy Carmichael, lyrics by Mitchell Parish, performed by Nat King Cole, courtesy of Capitol Records, Inc.
"How High The Moon," performed by Les Paul and Mary Ford, courtesy of Capitol Records, Inc.
DETAILS
Release Date:
8 October 1982
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 1 October 1982
Production Date:
19 September--8 December 1981 in New York City and Culver City, CA
Copyright Claimant:
MGM/UA Entertainment Company
Copyright Date:
8 October 1982
Copyright Number:
PA151819
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses
Panaflex® Camera and Lenses by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
92
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1954 New York City, Benjy Stone arrives at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, where he works as a junior writer on the variety television program, The Comedy Cavalcade. He carries a cardboard standee of the show’s upcoming guest performer and his personal hero, legendary film star Alan Swann. In the office, Benjy and his boss, Sy Benson, watch footage of Swann’s musketeer films and worry about the actor’s reliability. Meanwhile, Swann wakes up in a sofa bed with two women and a wheezing cough. After the meeting, Benjy asks the producer’s assistant, K. C. Downing, on a date, but she refuses because he embarrasses her. After supervising a sketch about a gangster character named “Boss Hijack,” the writing staff reconvenes to watch more of Swann’s films. Suddenly, Swann drunkenly barges into the room and passes out on the table. The Comedy Cavalcade star, Stan King Kaiser, instructs the staff to find a replacement guest, but Benjy vouches for Swann’s talent. Kaiser reconsiders, assigning Benjy responsibility for Swann’s sobriety throughout production. That afternoon, Kaiser and producer Leo Silver meet with mobster Karl Rojeck, who threatens legal action against the network for modeling “Boss Hijack” after him. Kaiser refuses to cease performing the sketch, and receives more taunts from Rojeck. Meanwhile, Benjy helps Swann’s driver, Alfie Bumbacelli, confiscate liquor bottles from the actor’s hotel room. There, Benjy discovers that the actor has an estranged twelve-year-old daughter in Connecticut. After Swann sobers, he reveals that he heard Benjy defend him that morning and invites the young man to dinner. At the restaurant, Swann takes an interest in an attractive young woman sitting across the dining hall, but dances with ... +


In 1954 New York City, Benjy Stone arrives at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, where he works as a junior writer on the variety television program, The Comedy Cavalcade. He carries a cardboard standee of the show’s upcoming guest performer and his personal hero, legendary film star Alan Swann. In the office, Benjy and his boss, Sy Benson, watch footage of Swann’s musketeer films and worry about the actor’s reliability. Meanwhile, Swann wakes up in a sofa bed with two women and a wheezing cough. After the meeting, Benjy asks the producer’s assistant, K. C. Downing, on a date, but she refuses because he embarrasses her. After supervising a sketch about a gangster character named “Boss Hijack,” the writing staff reconvenes to watch more of Swann’s films. Suddenly, Swann drunkenly barges into the room and passes out on the table. The Comedy Cavalcade star, Stan King Kaiser, instructs the staff to find a replacement guest, but Benjy vouches for Swann’s talent. Kaiser reconsiders, assigning Benjy responsibility for Swann’s sobriety throughout production. That afternoon, Kaiser and producer Leo Silver meet with mobster Karl Rojeck, who threatens legal action against the network for modeling “Boss Hijack” after him. Kaiser refuses to cease performing the sketch, and receives more taunts from Rojeck. Meanwhile, Benjy helps Swann’s driver, Alfie Bumbacelli, confiscate liquor bottles from the actor’s hotel room. There, Benjy discovers that the actor has an estranged twelve-year-old daughter in Connecticut. After Swann sobers, he reveals that he heard Benjy defend him that morning and invites the young man to dinner. At the restaurant, Swann takes an interest in an attractive young woman sitting across the dining hall, but dances with an elderly fan to celebrate her wedding anniversary. Moments later, Benjy stumbles into the crowd disguised in a waiter’s uniform, carrying a tray of desserts. He collides into the young woman’s boyfriend, creating a diversion for Swann to grab her arm and sneak out of the restaurant. The next morning, Sy and Leo chastise Benjy upon discovering that Swann was arrested for swimming nude in Central Park. When Swann arrives, Kaiser becomes angry that the show’s “Boss Hijack” sets have gone missing. Benjy receives a telephone call from his mother, Belle Carroca, who criticizes his refusal to use his real name, Benjamin Steinberg. Benjy then judges her choice of a second husband, a Filipino boxer named Rookie Carroca. Belle invites her son to bring Swann over for dinner the following night. Benjy hangs up when he notices K. C. swooning over Swann; he chases her into the hallway and professes his love for her, fully aware that his feelings are not reciprocated. He follows her into the ladies’ room and proposes that they move in together and get married, but she storms away. Later, Swann gives Benjy relationship advice, and Benjy sends K. C. an apology note inviting her to dinner. That night, they eat Chinese food in the office and kiss while watching one of Swann’s movies. Following a successful final rehearsal, Kaiser reluctantly admits that he has enjoyed having Swann on the show. Benjy and Swann drive to Belle’s Brooklyn, New York, home for dinner with his meddlesome relatives. During the meal, Benjy’s Uncle Morty asks Swann personal questions about a past paternity scandal. When Belle encourages the actor to start a family, Swann admits that he has been too afraid to reconnect with his daughter, Tess, who he has not seen in over a year. On the way home, Swann ignores Benjy’s protests against drinking. Intoxicated, the two men arrive uninvited at a Park Avenue apartment belonging to K. C.’s parents. After barging in on the wrong family, they retreat to Central Park and vomit in the shrubs. At dawn, Swann confesses that his real name is Clarence Duffy and that his “Alan Swann” persona was created when he signed a contract with Paramount Pictures. Claiming to no longer differentiate between his two personalities, Swann steals a police horse and pulls Benjy into the saddle. Hours later, Benjy wakes up in Swann’s hotel room and finds a message from Swann, saying that he left to visit Tess. In suburban Connecticut, Swann watches his daughter, but is unable to get out of the car to say hello. He returns to his dressing room at the studio. Before the show, Kaiser has a panic attack, believing that he dressed for the wrong sketch. He finds a wreath from gangster Rojeck in his dressing room with a ribbon reading, “You asked for it.” Upon realizing that the show will air live, Swann has a nervous breakdown and drinks himself into a stupor. When he tries to return to his hotel, Benjy reinstills his confidence by proclaiming that he shares the same qualities as the swashbuckling hero he portrayed onscreen. While the cast performs the “Boss Hijack” sketch, Rojack fights with Kaiser offstage. They crash through the set, surprising the crewmembers, but delighting the audience. Swann swings from the balcony on a piece of rope and interrupts the fight, prompting uproarious applause from the crowd. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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