Charles Busch writes, directs, and stars in a delightful, frantic, thoughtful picture about the hunt for a lost film.
(This review is part of our 2021 coverage of Reeling: The Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival)
What to do with one’s final reel? Charles Busch, a legendary drag performer, and Carl Andress are the filmmakers of this picture. They bring humor and heart to issues such as restoration and romance. The Sixth Reel, a loving tribute, is a love letter to old movies and their material, as well as the necessity of preservation. It’s also a gentle rhapsody about growing older and facing the final act of one’s life.
The Sixth Reel is about Jimmy Nichols (Busch), who is a middling movie ephemera seller with a reputation of conveniently looking after elderly collectors right before their deaths. When his latest ward, Gerald, a renowned film historian, dies with both a sizable collection and whispers of a long-lost film in his possession, Jimmy thinks he’s hit the jackpot.