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The Life of Reilly


Frank L. Anderson & Barry Poltermann

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Plot Summary

With "The Life of Reilly" directors Barry Poltermann and Frank Anderson turn their cameras on the one man stage show of nearly forgotten 1970’s television fixture Charles Nelson Reilly. The result: one of the most acclaimed performance films of all time. The cliché goes that truth is stranger than fiction, and in this case, it is also funnier and more heartbreaking. 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.

Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews


  • Reviews Counted: 42
  • Fresh: 41
  • Rotten: 1
  • Average Rating: 7.6/10

Top Critics' Reviews

Fresh: Save It for the Stage, a one-man stage show by Charles Nelson Reilly, a showbiz gadfly and Tony Award-winning theater director. – Matt Zoller Seitz, New York Times, Jun 24, 2010

Fresh: ...he's far more candid recalling his grand delusions in a school play than he is when he gets to Broadway and Hollywood. – Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly, Jun 24, 2010

Fresh: Life of Reilly is vivid proof that living well, and laughing heartily, can be the best revenge. – Joe Leydon, Variety, Jun 24, 2010

Fresh: It's fortunate that we have this filmed record -- directed by Barry Poltermann and Frank Anderson -- of a memorable solo performance by a true show business original. – Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter, Jun 24, 2010

Read More About This Movie On Rotten Tomatoes

Customer Reviews

I've been waiting to see this movie.....

.....since I first heard about it several years ago. I'm of the age where CNR was on TV all the time, and especially in the 70's on Match Game. I've read some of his history and I knew there was more to him than Match Game, which was great fun for it's time.
I really enjoyed this movie and his story-telling, especially where he casts old movie stars as members of his family and his friends.
I'm not an actor but it would would have been great to take acting classes from him.
The movie is cut oddly in places but still very entertaining and well worth a rental(Idon't buy many movies)....
RIP Charles Nelson Reilly--and yes, now he is dead.

A Must See

One day, I just was home sick and wanted to watch a movie on itunes, and was in the mood for a documentary. I was looking through random ones, and watched a lot of previews, and this one seemed funny, so I rented it. I had never heard of Charles before I watched the movie, and let me tell you: This is now one of my favorite films. He is so real about everything, and is such an inspiration. I STRONGLY encourage you to buy/rent this. Not only is it entertaining and funny, but you might learn a few lessons here or there. So glad I watched this.

Leaves you wanting more

This is a completely absorbing film about the late, great Charles Nelson Reilly. I don't know how many people who enjoyed his performances on TV series and game shows (most notably, "Match Game") knew that he was an accomplished stage actor and acting teacher. I only knew a small part of that story, and nothing about his family background and early life, which, it turns out, was complex, difficult, and often heartbreaking. This simple, well-produced film records Reilly's last performance of his one-man play about his family life and career. He was a wonderful storyteller and performer. His performance goes from laughs to pathos and back, and in the end, leaves you wanting more. There was so much more to Charles Nelson Reilly than I think many people knew - thanks to this film, they can.

The Life of Reilly
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Customer Ratings

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