She’s crusty, disturbingly honest and full of irrepressible energy. She’s also 89, and has spent most of her life in show business.
Younger audiences probably know Elaine Stritch as Jack Donaghy’s mother on 30 Rock, but Broadway aficionados are well aware that Stritch has had a long stage career with lots of TV appearances (Law & Order, The Ellen Burstyn Show, Two’s Company, and My Sister Ellen) and a few side trips into movies, including two Woody Allen movies: September and Small Time Crooks).
For 27 years, Robert Denerstein was the film critic at The Rocky Mountain News. Read more of Robert's reviews at Denerstein Unleashed.
Her theater credits include a one-woman show Elaine Stritch at Liberty, the original Broadway production of Company and the 1955 production of Bus Stop.
A new documentary, Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me, follows Stritch as she prepares for a final cabaret show in Manhattan. The movie concludes with Stritch’s retirement: She recently moved from New York City to her home state of Michigan.
Stritch’s life has not been problem free: She has diabetes and has struggled with alcoholism. But she remains a vital and captivating presence.
In her film, first-time director Chiemi Karasawa, who worked for many years as a producer, gets up close and personal with Stritch. Her documentary revels in Stritch’s talent and personality, but doesn’t flinch from showing that growing old isn’t easy — even for Broadway stars.
It’s difficult to imagine that anyone could watch this entertaining documentary and not be charmed by Stritch. Trying to ignore her would be like trying to keep your hat on in a wind tunnel.