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 ... See full summary »
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? Enter "The Life Of Reilly". The cliché goes that truth is stranger than fiction. In this case, it is also funnier and more heartbreaking. Charles Nelson Reilly, famous for his game show innuendos and "X Files" guest appearances, takes us through his bizarre, star-studded, tragic, hilarious, and ultimately amazing life with a potent blend of tenderness and quick one-liners. "The Life Of Reilly" is an adaptation of Mr. Reilly's acclaimed one-man show and was photographed for the screen during Mr. Reilly's final two performances of his play in North Hollywood, California. Written by
Well, it is the end of May 2007 and Mr. Charles Nelson Reilly has recently died. I just learned of it today and, while I know it's silly, I've been sitting here at work getting teary-eyed. Sure, as a kid I knew him only from The Match Game, but when I saw "Life of Reilly (Save It for the Stage)" last fall I understood at last what a fascinating person and enormous heart lay behind the outrageous public persona. And, finally, it seems that even the game-show Charles Nelson Reilly was not really ever a mere persona, that he was never anyone but who he was, histrionic and unapologetic and, if you took the trouble to look, enormously dignified. The movie shows both the man and the artist, a veteran stage actor whose craft at storytelling never ebbed, even as his final years slowed him down physically.
As it happens, I ran across the "Jose Chung" episode of the X-Files, with Mr. Reilly in the title role, last week, just before he passed. That long, serialized interview scene with Gillian Anderson's Dana Scully is just a delight; I think you can see the fun Ms. Anderson is having playing off him. And it surely contains some of the series' best comic writing.
*Sigh.* Mr. Reilly, I shall miss you greatly.
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