Chuck Braverman’s “Curtain Call” visits some of the residents of the Actor’s Fund Retirement Home in Englewood, New Jersey. These people are in their eighties and nineties, and all came from various aspects of show business. None of the residents are particularly famous, although B-movie actress Pamela Duncan (star of Roger Corman’s “Attack of the Crab Monsters”) is the most notably personality here.
The film allows the home’s residents to reminisce about their careers. Some of the memories are pleasant (one woman received dance lessons from a young, struggling Bill “Bojangles” Robinson), but a few are not (one man saw his Broadway career halted following an arrest on morals charges by a vice squad cop seeking to entrap homosexuals). Current Broadway star Brian Stokes Mitchell appears to give a benefit performance for the residents at a celebration of Shakespeare’s birthday (that’s the top social event of the year at this location).
“Curtain Call” is pleasant and nostalgic, if not particularly memorable (the uniform sense of hamminess among the old folks can give the impression that if you’ve seen one old actor, you’ve seen them all). The film received an Oscar nomination as Best Short Subject Documentary, which is somewhat surprising since the movie isn’t that great. Still, praise should be given for allowing the home’s residents one last chance to enjoy a turn before the camera (several of the people featured here passed away after their interviews were shot).