Shortly before her departure from Saturday Night Live, Gilda Radner put together a one-woman show on Broadway which was part variety show and part showcase for some of her notable characters from SNL, the show was made into a film by director Mike Nichols and the result is the newly released Gilda Live. The play is essentially a series of sketches and also features appearances by fellow SNL actor/writer Don Novello as Father Guido Sarducci and Paul Shaffer, Howard Shore, and G.E. Smith (who Gilda married soon afterwards) of the Saturday Night Live Band.
The DVD quality is not great and has no extras, contemporary audiences also might have some trepidation about embarking on a trip back to that special time in America when film was yellowed and the hair was plentiful but Nichols documentary style is very palatable, giving the audience a look backstage at the inner workings of the performance. Gilda’s talents shine early on in the performance with an onslaught of singing, dancing, and her boisterous Judy Miller sketch which is one of the highlights of the show. Father Guido Sarducci is another high point, especially his epic bit about paying for sins and 5-minute College.
Unfortunately the enthusiasm fades a bit as the show progresses and the performance ends a bit weak, but maybe that’s just because Rosanna Rosannadanna’s jokes about Geraldo and Walter Cronkite are a bit too topical. Regardless, the film shows what a great comic actor Gilda was before she lost her battle with ovarian cancer.