David W. Rintels (below) captures circumstance and character quite deftly. As directed by another television vet, John Erman (shown at right), the film bears Erman's hallmark of smart casting coupled to the ability to draw excellent, realistic performances out of entire ensembles. That is the case here, too. If it is Ms Peters who shines brightest, literally everyone in the movie glows, as well. This includes the likes of Carmen Matthews as Jane' great aunt, Dorothy McGuire
Michael Hogan as the husband, Brian Bedford as Jane's medical doctor, and of course Moore herself (shown at left on poster, top, and below). Generally a reactive actress, off whom bounced the humor of the actors around her -- from Dick van Dyke to the cast of the even more famous Mary Tyler Moore Show -- here Moore plays the therapist whom Jane's medical doctor recommends to help see his patient through this very difficult time. The relationship that develops between the two women, as well as between Jane and a few of the people around her, constitutes the meat of this thoughtful, moving film.
The importance of friendship is the theme of the movie, and it is brought to life pretty damned well, with a few laughs, but mostly via involvement with Jane as a character who grows and changes, thanks to the friendship of those around her. My spouse declared the film "phony-baloney: an insult to anyone dying or living," but I couldn't disagree more.
Olive Films, the movie -- running 96 minutes and in the old-time 1.33:1 movie and TV aspect ratio -- hit the street this past Tuesday, February 21, and is definitely worth catching up with if you've never seen it, and probably worth watching again, after all these years, if you have. The transfer, although nothing like Blu-ray quality, is still quite good. You can order your copy by clicking here. So far The Last Best Year does not seem to be available for rental via Netflix or Amazon, but perhaps that will soon change, once renewed word-of-mouth starts to build.