Charles Nelson, that is.
The Life of Reilly
Review by Ross Anthony

Quite an interesting character from years ago, and perhaps best known as a regular guest on the 70's game show "Match Game," Charles Nelson Reilly wants the world to know that he has not since passed on. In this film of his autobiographical one-man-show "Save it for the Stage," he relates a hard life growing up, his dream-crushing mother and artist father. Reilly effortlessly garnishes his audiences' sympathies and rewards them with some moments of truly touching honesty. I got choked up a couple of times. Despite the facts that he's not always so consistently engaging and at times the intensity level wanes, he's always somewhat amusing.

This is not a standard bio-doc as you might expect on cable. It's Reilly himself communicating meaningful highlights from his life, his relatives and his friends. The filmmakers insert-edit black & white clips at appropriate spots, but these do not take over the stage-play feel. There are also a few clips of the man-on-the-street trying to recall just who this Reilly is. The whole production is caught on video in a warm, off-tripod camera feel. I like the dark blacks behind Reilly on a tastefully simple set.

Over all, it's mildly entertaining; although, I would have enjoyed more and longer clips from Reilly's past TV appearances.

Interestingly enough, the director of the film convinced Reilly to pull the show out of retirement to put it on cinematic record. And by the way, here's the synopsis (one of the most tantalizing I've read this year):
If, in 1940, you had a lobotomized aunt, an institutionalized father, a racist mother, and were the only gay kid on the block, what do you think the odds would be that you'd end up a Tony winner, a staple of television, and a generational icon?

-- Book Contest --

  • The Life of Reilly. Copyright © 2007.
  • Starring Charles Nelson Reilly.
  • Directed by Barry Poltermann and Frank Anderson.
  • Screenplay by Paul Linke and Charles Nelson Reilly.
  • Produced by Bob Fagan/Wrye martin at L'Orange/Civilian Pictures.

Grade..........................B (2/4)

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Copyright © 1998-2022 Ross Anthony, Author - Speaker - Solo World Circumnavigator In addition to reviewing films and interviewing celebs at, traveling the world, composing great music, motivational speaking, Mr. Anthony also runs his own publishing company in the Los Angeles area. While traversing the circumference of the planet writing books and shooting documentaries, Mr. Anthony has taught, presented for, worked &/or played with locals in over 30 countries & 100 cities (Nairobi to Nagasaki). He's bungee-jumped from a bridge near Victoria Falls, wrestled with lions in Zimbabwe, crashed a Vespa off a high mountain road in Taiwan, and ridden a dirt bike across the States (Washington State to Washington DC). To get signed books ("Rodney Appleseed" to "Jinshirou") or schedule Ross to speak check out: or call 1-800-767-7186. Go into the world and inspire the people you meet with your love, kindness, and whatever it is you're really good at. Check out books by Ross Anthony. Rand() functions, Pho chicken soup, rollerblading, and frozen yogurt (w/ blueberries) also rock! (Btw, rand is short for random. It can also stand for "Really Awkward Nutty Dinosaurs" -- which is quite rand, isn't it?) Being alive is the miracle. Special thanks to Ken Kocanda, HAL, Jodie Keszek, Don Haderlein, Mom and Pops, my family, R. Foss, and many others by Ross Anthony. Galati-FE also deserves a shout out. And thanks to all of you for your interest and optimism. Enjoy great films, read stirring novels, grow.

Last Modified: Thursday, 25-Oct-2007 11:23:44 PDT