By Matt Passantino
Walking into Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me, I knew Elaine Stritch by name only. In terms of her work, I really did not know much outside of her recurring role as Alec Baldwin’s mother on 30 Rock. That is the reason I went to the film – to learn about a legend in the entertainment business. The documentary, which clocks in at a breezy 80 minutes, covers a wide range of material and really spotlights the outspoken comedian and Broadway star.
To tell you much about what I learned about Stritch would do a disservice. Watching documentaries are often as entertaining as they are educational and if you happen to see Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me – and you should – you will learn about the early life of this unique starlet, her career from the beginning to present day and her struggles out of the spotlight.
Again, that is all in 80 minutes.
What stands out about this documentary is it highlights Stritch’s thirst for the spotlight and passion for what she does. As a public figure, Stritch is known as abrasive and never afraid to speak her mind. As an individual, we find a hardworking and passionate creative who consistently tries to improve her craft. The documentary was shot when Stritch was 86 going on 87 (she is now 89).
What is inspiring about Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me is it perfectly captures Stritch’s refusal to quit an industry that is often unfriendly to anyone over a certain age.
There is a lot of humor in the documentary, but it is perfectly coupled with poignant realism. Stritch confronts age head on while she is still trying to perform shows. Even in her weakest moments, she is usually sharper than anyone 50 years her junior.
While the documentary offers a glimpse into Stritch’s life, it makes the best of the short runtime. It never plays as a highlight of all of the crass things Stritch has said over her career, even though there is plenty to go on. This is an examination of a fearless woman who loves what she does and will continue to do so until she says she’s done for good.