DVD Review: Love, Gilda

Back in 2012, several locations of Gilda’s Club decided to change their name. The non-profit cancer support network spots that wanted to change used the sad excuse that nobody remembered Gilda Radner. This was upsetting to read. How dare anyone forget Gilda! She was the Queen of the original Not Ready For Primetime Players. She had the ability to convincingly play inquisitive little girls and complaining old ladies. Her battles with cancer were painful and finally heartbreaking for fans that wanted her back. How could anyone forget her? But how could anyone know who she was that didn’t risk falling asleep in church by staying up to watch Saturday Night Live in the mid-70s? Thankfully Love, Gilda is a documentary that digs deep into Gilda’s life.

The film opens up with Gilda’s life in Detroit that also turned into life in Florida because her mother hated the cold. She enjoyed eating so much that her mother got her prescribed for diet pills at age 10. She talks about how acting and being funny was part of her life. While she was at the University of Michigan, she dropped out and followed a sculpture back to Toronto to take care of him. But a homemaker wasn’t right for her. The guy didn’t enjoy her being funny so ended up leaving him for a local theater. This turned into her being part of the famous production of Godspell that included Paul Shaffer, Martin Short, Eugene Levy and Andrea Martin. She went to Second City and worked with folks from Godspell along with Dan Aykroyd, John Candy and Brian Doyle-Murray. This lead to John Belushi giving her a phone call to be the girl on The National Lampoon Radio Hour with Bill Murray and Harold Ramis down in New York City. Gilda talks about how she used her typing skills to insert her humor into sketches as they were being hashed out. There’s footage of the stage productions. Eventually Lorne Michaels cast her for his new show Saturday Night Live along with other former play pals. The show quickly was a hit. There’s a tales of how Gilda would wander over to the offices in the middle of the night in her pajamas to work with the writers. There’s audio of her and Jane Curtain collaborating. Lorne talks about how if he had time in the show yet not enough time for a real sketch, he’d just put Gilda on the stage to fill the moment. They dig up footage from the infamous live from Mardi Gras episode of SNL. There is coverage of how she had to deal with her eating disorder that made her extra thin. After her recover, we get a glimpse of her one woman show on Broadway. The ’80s started good for Gilda when she fell in love with Gene Wilder on Hanky Panky, the duo would make a few more films with The Lady In Red and Haunted Honeymoon. Then things went off the rails when she came down with Ovarian cancer. The film charts her battle as she shares what kept her going during the chemotherapy. We get her cancer fighting song.

Love, Gilda does a smashing job giving a sense of Gilda’s life, laughs, loves and struggles. Lisa Dapolito and her crew have dug deep into the photos, home movies, videos and audio tapes. They footage of Gilda receiving her Emmy from Lynda Carter (Wonder WomanSaturday Night Live. Gilda gets to narrate most of her story so it’s not just people talking. There are people talking including Alan Zweibel, Lorne Michaels and Martin Short. They recount so much about her. A very nice moment is when new stars such as Melissa McCarthy, Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph appear, they don’t just talk of how Gilda inspired them, but read parts of Gilda’s journals and notes. We get a sense of Gilda’s insecurities and pleasures. We get a sense of her as a person.

Luckily not all the club’s changed their names. And hopefully people who ponder why it’s named Gilda’s Club will sit down for 90 minutes to watch Love, Gilda and meet Gilda. If you’ve bought the first five seasons of Saturday Night Live, Love, Gilda belongs to rest next to the boxsets.

The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. The video quality varies depending on the archival source material. The audio is 5.1 Dolby Digital. Things sound extremely clear for the most part including the tapes of Gilda talking. The movie is subtitled in English and Spanish.

Additional Interviews (37;33) spends more time with Alan Zweibel, Robin Zweibel, Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Cecily Stong, Jude Levy, Laraine Newman, Paul Shaffer, Martin Short and more. Alan breaks down the time they did an interview with Mr. Ed’s widow.

Gilda’s Home Movies (10:19) includes her tour of the house she shared with Gene Wilder. The trees and leaves were rich and famous too.

Gilda’s Gallery has dozens of photos and writings from her.

Theatrical Trailer (2:30) sets up the story and the filmmaking techniques.

Magnolia Home Entertainment presents Love, Gilda. Directed by Lisa Dapolito. Starring: Gilda Radner, Gene Wilder, Martin Short, Alan Zweibel, & Laraine Newman Rated: Not Rated. Running Time: 86 minutes. Released: January 1, 2018.

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