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Life of Reilly, The
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by Laura Kyle

"I laughed, I cried. Really, I did!"
5 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2006 SXSW FILM FESTIVAL: Charles Nelson Reilly was a familiar face in film and television during the 60's and 70's; he was most known for being a comedian and panelist on "Match Game." But he barely mentions any of that in his one-man stage show. That's because it's the least interesting part of his life.

Reilly has performed his autobiographical theater show "Save it for the Stage: The Life of Reilly" over 400 times. But directors Frank L. Anderson and Barry Poltermann bring it to a whole new audience, as they beautifully captured the stage production on camera, inserted in a bit of cinematic style and even animation, and then shared it with lucky audience members at the SXSW Film Festival.

I'll be honest -- I had no idea who Charles Nelson Reilly was before this film. And still, I don't really know the Charles Nelson Reilly that older generations or more pop culture-savvy folks know. Sure, after a little time at IMDB, I learned that he successfully moved on from his earlier years on TV and film to become a prolific voice actor. He's the Dirty Bubble in "SpongeBob SquarePants"! But whatever memories America has of him for his gig on "Match Game" or whatever nifty trivia one can dig up, The Life of Reilly is a story you simply can't search for on google.

Charles Nelson Reilly grew up in an admittedly kooky household -- his mother in particular was neurotic and oppressive, constantly telling him to save all emotions and family secrets "for the stage." And so he did.

It'd be pointless for me to do some sort of synopsis. Reilly is a master storyteller and comedian and it's best you let him do the talking. But I won't mind helping him clear the record about his life -- "Match Game" is not his crowning achievement. He is a revered theater actor and teacher who starred in the original "Hello, Dolly" and "How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying." Bet you didn't know that!

The Life of Reilly is the funniest, most poignant flick I caught at SXSW. Not only is it incredibly entertaining, but it's a wonderful illustration of the Art of Acting, which you just don't get very much of in your typical film, where even the best actors have to perform out of sequence and get upstaged by the set or the action.

This is a film that's easy-peasy for me to recommend to folks. It's a must-see if you're a fan of Charles Nelson Reilly, or if you have no clue who he is.

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originally posted: 03/28/06 08:58:48
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 South By Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2006 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

3/17/06 Rebecca I wasn't expecting much, but I was very suprised by the quality of this film. Excellent! 5 stars
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Directed by
  Barry Poltermann

Written by

  Charles Nelson Reilly

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