Charles Nelson Reilly's subtly moving one-man show SAVE IT FOR THE STAGE was a rare night at the theatre that begged to be recorded and saved for posterity. Like all great character actors, Reilly had a detective's eye for detail but the rare gift of being able to distill people and events into wonderful mini-portraits and vignettes; it's a shame that he was never interviewed for the Archive of American Television's oral-history series.
Thankfully, we have this film adaptation of the show -- Reilly's last stage performance prior to his 2007 death at age 76 -- to enjoy, which the film's producers have chopped up and uploaded to YouTube.
The DVD's extras include this tremendously valuable Making Of documentary, which moved me further by showing the actor's unvarnished vulnerability and irritability before a project finally snaps into focus. It's not something you see in proper context every day; typically, such footage is sliced down to the worst moments and shown on Celebrities Behaving Badly-type shows, where the hosts and audience can chuckle and/or cluck-cluck about these crazy divas and their outrageous demands for a cold diet soda. If, like me, you came away from SAVE IT FOR THE STAGE/LIFE OF REILLY with a vastly expanded view/appreciation of Reilly's unique mix of fear, pluck and adrenaline, this doc will expand it even more: