The Life of Reilly


Directed by
Barry Poltermann & Frank Anderson
Edited by
Barry Poltermann
Frank Anderson


As a child, game-show fixture Charles Nelson Reilly had a lobotomized aunt, an institutionalized father, a racist mother, and was the only gay kid on the block. So how did he end up a Tony winner, a staple of television, and a generational icon? The Life Of Reilly is his funny, sad, surprising, and ultimately touching life story.

After its release, The Life of Reilly was “Certified Fresh” with a “100% Fresh” rating from critics at Rotten Tomatoes and was listed at year’s end as their best reviewed film of 2007.

The film appeared on several critics’ and reader top ten lists of the best films of 2007 including: The Village Voice/LA Weekly Film Poll of Best Films of 2007, which featured The Life of Reilly in its top ten “Best Documentary” list;’s 2007 Reader’s Poll, which listed The Life of Reilly as the 3rd Funniest Film of 2007; and Ed Gonzalez of Slant Magazine, who picked The Life of Reilly as the year’s 10th best film overall.

I love this movie. I don’t say those four words often, so I had to put them first. And isolate them … a postmortem revelation as much as a perfect swansong. In all honesty, I doubt I will see another movie as funny and touching as this one for quite a while.

Christopher Campbell

(Reilly’s) life provided the blueprint, but Reilly’s literary artistry had to construct it into a fabulous narrative full of sharply observed detail, irresistible humor, unmilked melancholy and humanely observed humanity. Much of it is worthy of Balzac, Dickens or Mark Twain.

John Simon
New York Magazine

Warm and hilarious… the bittersweet milestones play like a Spalding Gray monologue loosened up with a few shots of tequila.

Aaron Hillis
The Village Voice

In this rippingly entertaining documentary of Reilly’s celebrated autobiographical monologue Save It for the Stage, the unfailingly witty, shamelessly bitchy Reilly gets to set the record straight.

Geoff Pevere
Toronto Star