Dave's Rating:

4.5

… sentimental and kind of hammy …

Who's in It: Charles Nelson Reilly

The Basics: Part for-posterity "concert" film and part documentary, this filmed version of Reilly's autobiographical one-man show is all about how a really unlikely guy became a star and broke down barriers for "flamboyant" men in the media.

What's the Deal? First of all, you should know who Charles Nelson Reilly was. He was a comic actor on Broadway and in film and TV. He won a Tony Award for his role in 1962's How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. But mostly, he's remembered as the guy in the sailor's cap who used to be catty with Brett Somers on the racy '70s TV game show Match Game. Along with Paul Lynde and Rip Taylor, he pioneered the subversive presence of the witty, outrageous gay guy on TV in an era when you weren't even allowed to say that you were. Things were weird then.

Why It's Good This Exists: It was shot just before he died, so it's a nice record of his life in his own words, a life that included bizarre family situations as well as his solo navigation of Hollywood as a decidedly unconventional celebrity. It's sweet and sentimental and kind of hammy, but you forgive an old man for that sort of thing. And we didn't get that from Lynde, who died suddenly and fairly young, so it's cool that we get it from Reilly, who led a much happier life anyway.

My Favorite Parts: The filmmakers interview random people on the street, asking them if they've ever heard of CNR. The ones who have all try to impersonate his distinctive chortling laugh or talk about how he was "like that" or "that way," which means that the '70s weren't all that long ago.

Unusual Connection to Heavy All-Female Band L7: Former L7 member Donita Sparks composed some extra music for the film. Not that it sounds anything like L7, but now you know what she's been up to in case you were wondering.

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