Transitions 3 – The Life of Reilly

I’m going through some personal stuff right now, which is why the title of this post is "Transitions 3"; the other two are private in LiveJournal. Once before, I was going through a hard time and I saw a performance that lifted my spirits. It’s happened again.

The performance was Charles Nelson Reilly in Life of Reilly. I saw it via Netflix streaming; the DVD isn’t available anymore, perhaps because all of Netflix’s copies were watched so often that they wore out.

Like most folks of my generation, I thought of Charles Nelson Reilly as a flamboyant character who appeared in lots of TV shows, game shows in particular. I never would have thought of him as a serious performer. Boy, was I wrong!

"Life of Reilly" is a film version of his autobiographical one-man stage play that he performed in the last years of his career. He shares his experiences growing up, facing challenges, dealing with the poverties and tragedies of life. The way he presents his personal story is utterly fascinating; in fact, the only flaw in the movie is that there are some production enhancements that I found unnecessary, since Reilly can command the screen on his own.

One moment struck me in particular: Reilly describes the first time he was in a theater and heard thousands of people laughing at once. He asked himself how he could become an actor who could do that, who could make people forget they’ve lost a job or their loved one, at least for a little while.

Charles, you succeeded, at least with me tonight. My thanks to you, wherever you are.

If you have Netflix streaming, watch this. Or perhaps save it for some time when you are feeling low, and let it work for you.

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