Saturday Night Live: The Best Of Gilda Radner

Playing brassy broads, debauched rockers, hyperactive kids, grandmotherly ninnies, nerdy noogie magnets and ingratiating infotainment personalities, Gilda Radner's comic talent and versatility put her on par with the best SNL cast members of her time — John Belushi, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Chevy Chase. Unlike her prettier female co-stars Jane Curtain and Laraine Newman, Radner was never the straight man or simply "the woman" in the sketch. Invariably, she held (or at least shared) the spotlight, unafraid of being bold or silly. But despite her ability to overcome constrictive feminine mores for comedy's sake, her natural charm made her one of the show's more endearing cast members, unlike wackier female SNL alumni like Molly Shannon. Radner didn't try to be as unhinged as Belushi or Aykroyd, or as physical as Chase, instead, she instilled the show with some realistic female content through her recurring characters, many of which are included on this 90-minute "best of" collection: Weekend Update commentators Roseanne Roseannadanna and Emily Litella, Lisa Loopner, Baba Wawa, Judy Miller and Candy Slice. Radner diehards will notice omissions and may not be happy with every choice of sketch, but it's a fine sampler nonetheless. As those of us who were either alive in the '70s or now stay up late enough on Saturday nights to see the old reruns knows, SNL was as uneven then as it is now, some of its humour being too dark (even by today's standards) or too lame. With a couple of exceptions, this DVD sidesteps all that and features two revealing TV interviews, her original SNL screen test, a Rolling Stone article and clips of fellow cast and crew members sharing memories of Radner, who died in 1989. (Maple)