Synopsis by Nathan Southern
Though notorious as a flamboyant TV game show staple, stage and screen icon Charles Nelson Reilly qualified early in the game as one of the most accomplished performers in all of show business. In addition to early dramatic training under the aegis of Uta Hagen (alongside Hal Holbrook and Jason Robards), Reilly received a Tony nomination for his 1997 direction of Julie Harris in a critically-acclaimed revival of The Gin Game and - as a dramatic coach - honed the acting chops of many a well-respected contemporary. Reilly also launched a critically praised one-man stage show, The Life of Reilly, that involved the actor-director relaying colorful monologues about his long life in show business before a live audience. That production forms the basis of the film of the same name by Barry Poltermann and Frank Anderson. The motion picture, shot as a "theater piece" without being opened up for the screen, (and thus, a film relatively free of visual gimmicks) finds Reilly expostulating, wittily, on such topics as: his homosexuality (and the early discrimination it wrought when he wanted to make it as an actor); his dysfunctional family and troubled childhood; his brush with death in a 1944 circus fire; his stint on the small screen; and his experiences on the Great White Way.
stage-show, director, homosexual, monologue, personality, reflection [thought], show-business, game-show