The Life of Reilly
The late Charles Nelson Reilly directed five Broadway plays, won a Tony for acting, was nominated for three Emmys, and knew full well that his legacy would be as a flamboyant double-entendre machine on '70s game shows. Shot before he died in May at the age of 76, this warm and hilarious adaptation of Reilly's acclaimed one-man show, Save It for the Stage, is almost entirely without reference to Match Game. Rambling, blithe, nostalgic, and out for revenge, Reilly presents a witty anecdotal timeline of his life, and the bittersweet milestones play like a Spalding Gray monologue loosened up with a few shots of tequila. There are the stories of his racist mom, lobotomized aunt, and a TV exec who told him he'd never find work as a homosexualand the more charming tale of his Uta Hagen acting class, which yielded nothing but future A-listers (Steve McQueen, Jason Robards, Jack Lemmon, and Anne Meara, to name a few). Directors Barry Poltermann and Frank Anderson aren't exactly reinventing the wheel here style-wise, but by introducing the performance with man-on-the-street interviews that emphasize how little most of us know about Reilly's talent, they give their film and subject added poignancy.
Get the Film Club Newsletter
Stay up to date on the best new movies with our critics' latest reviews, interviews and trailers for the films coming to a theater near you each week.