My Favorite Year (1982)
In this deceptively breezy, whimsical comedy, Peter O’Toole gives one of his very best performances. Of course, movie buffs will always remember him as T.E Lawrence in David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia (1962), and he went on to a number of grand roles of prestige and gravitas, but his comedic roles too often get underrated. How many award winning dramatic actors are also capable of performing in the lightest of comedies with ease like O’Toole did in, say How to Steal a Million, for example. But that film was in the sixties when O’Tool was still young and handsome, before he fell off the wagon, and became a notorious drunk, and aging hell-raiser. By 1982, the year this film was released, O’Toole was not just channeling Errol Flynn, who is the obvious influence for the role, but also his own waning stardom. He plays Alan Swann, former matinee idol and swashbuckling star of numerous classic movies. His prime behind him, he grasps for a minor comeback in the emerging television medium by making a guest appearance on a variety show. In this scene, the film and O’Toole’s best, he finds out for the first time that the show he’s doing is live, and requires him to get the lines right first try. His reaction is priceless, and as over the top as it is, it beautifully plays in to the perception we fans have of major movie stars.