Early in her lengthy, landmark career in musical theatre, Elaine Stritch was a spry young belter. Today, half a century later, the irresistibly inimitable Stritch is widely known for her trademark flaming gravel. Fortunately, the loss in vocal suppleness hasn't mattered at all — the main attraction has always been the indomitable Stritch personality. Indeed, her greatest role has been that of herself in her brilliant Tony and Emmy Award-winning solo show, Elaine Stritch at Liberty.
Moreover, the famous Stritch persona has been the subject or focal point of a number of screen productions over the years, including D.A. Pennebaker's acclaimed "Company: Original Cast Album," "Follies in Concert," the documentary about the making of Elaine Stritch At Liberty and innumerable variety specials, talk shows and award ceremonies, where her participation is always a highlight, living on ad infinitum in unforgettable viral videos.
Best of all is Chiemi Karasawa's riveting new film "Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me" (opening Feb. 21 at the IFC Center and Lincoln Plaza Cinemas in New York, with other cities immediately following). "Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me" chronicles the final stretch of Stritch's life in Manhattan and on the road before retiring to Michigan last year. It's a fascinating, unadorned look at the humanity inside this theatrical titan, offering insight into the unflaggingly hard-ass attitude and relentlessly passionate pursuit of truth that have enlivened and invigorated all the characters Elaine Stritch has played. It whets your appetite to revisit her entire esteemed body of work, particularly her legacy of recorded music.
Click through to read my selections for the essential Elaine Stritch on disc.
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