And speaking as we were the other day of memorable big screen period pieces set in a recent (second half of the 20th century) period, I am shocked -- shocked! -- to find that one of the most memorable comedies of its era is no longer officially available on DVD.
But first -- STEVE'S MOVIE REVIEWS!!!©
It Might Get Loud -- Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, The Edge from U2 and Jack White from Whitesnake get together to compare notes on vintage guitars and swap recipes for salsa. Okay, Jack White is actually from the White Stripes. Interesting music documentary with nice period footage of the players when they were young, but docked a few points for lack of any references to Satan.
Taking Woodstock -- Director Ang Lee's funny and affectionate take on the counterculture's greatest long weekend gets every period detail right with the conspicuous exception of star Demetri Martin, who plays one of my co-religionists despite lacking, shall we say, a certain jew ne sais quoi.
But I digress. In any case, I was referring to My Favorite Year, the hilarious 1982 showbiz farce based -- loosely -- on Mel Brooks' experience as a writer on the Sid Caesar Your Show of Shows in the early '50s. With Peter O'Toole giving the performance of a lifetime as a drunken Hollywood matinee idol based -- again, loosely -- on Errol Flynn.
Actually, loosely is the operative word here. The real Flynn did in fact appear on the Caesar show during Brooks tenure, but more or less without incident (and certainly nothing like the glorious insanity that surrounds O'Toole's Alan Swann character in the movie). For another thing, the film has a central flaw not that far removed from the one at the heart of Lee's Woodstock meditation -- i.e., a young protagonist who's supposed to be a nice Jewish boy from Brooklyn played by an actor who...well, let's just say who does not seem to have any familiarity with a lean cornedbeef sandwich on rye and a Dr. Browns Cel-Ray.
I mean, c'mon -- Mark Linn-Baker, amusing apple-cheeked fellow that he may be, as Mel Brooks? What the hell was director Richard Benjamin thinking?
Oh well. As you can see from the above, My Favorite Year is still a major hoot, and that's not even counting Lanie Kazan's performance (I couldn't find a clip -- sorry) as Linn-Baker's larger than life Jewish mother.
As I said, though, for some strange reason the DVD has been discontinued. Fortunately, you can still get a new (or used) copy over at Amazon; you can also download the movie directly to your computer. Here's the link; just scroll down when you get there.