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Balcony [VHS]


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Product Details

  • Actors: Shelley Winters, Peter Falk, Lee Grant, Peter Brocco, Joyce Jameson
  • Directors: Joseph Strick
  • Writers: Ben Maddow, Jean Genet
  • Producers: Joseph Strick, Ben Maddow, Lewis M. Allen, Rosemary Kaye
  • Format: Black & White, NTSC
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Image Entertainment
  • VHS Release Date: August 1, 2000
  • Run Time: 84 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6305943443
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #476,234 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

In a very special brothel known as "The Balcony," the customers live out their wildest dreams, oblivious to a revolution that is going on outside. Directed by the award-winning Joseph Strick and based on acclaimed French avant-garde dramatist Jean Genet's play, this star-packed film features Shelley Winters as the brothel's madam and Peter Falk as her occasional lover, who enlists her help in halting the revolution. A young Leonard Nimoy heads the rebels, and Lee Grant is the madam's executive assistant who longs to return to her former role as just "one of the girls." With its insightfulness and delightfully fresh sense of humor, "The Balcony" continues to provide a great view of the world's ironies.

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By G. Jones on August 15, 2002
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is an arty-entertainment film. If you like NIGHT OF THE HUNTER, THE WICKER MAN, POWELL & PRESSBURGER FILMS, DENNIS POTTER TV, THEATRICAL PERFORMANCES ON TV -- and anything else that is different with an arty dramatic drive, you'll love this unique piece. Probably the closest that the USA has come to getting a European piece of theatre right. I'm not into arty rubbish, but into entertainment. If you have nothing against a made for TV theatre piece that is very poetic, and at times surrealistic, then give this a try. It was shown on European TV several years ago, and I found it wonderful, and have longed for its release. The best performance I have seen from Peter Falk, and Leonard Nimoy was very virile and un-Vulkan. The women in the brothel are also INCREDIBLY sexy !!!!!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By JLerner on July 12, 2000
Format: DVD
The Balcony is a brilliant play emulating similar satirical methods of the better known "Crucible." The Balcony is at times sexy, witty, violent, gauche, and shocking. The movie does not succeed in relating the power of the tale. Nonetheless, Jean Genet's superb screenplay is not completely lost on the mature viewer. Younger or less analytical viewers may have problems with the nuances of the play, yet the advantage of the movie is the ease with which it can be watched again for further comprehension. Overall, while the movie is certainly good, it does not do the play nor playwright justice.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A. Gyurisin on September 23, 2004
Format: DVD
The Balcony is not just an ordinary extension to your house ... in this film it is a place where mortal men go to live out their fantasies. It is a modern day dream castle, where men can escape from the hardships of the real world and act out lives of important people that they may never have the opportunity of becoming. I use the word men for a reason in this review, because the "Balcony" is a brothel. It is a place where men go to fulfill not just their sexual fantasies, but also their dreams. If one wants to become the Bishop; he can go to the "Balcony" and demand that women tell him their sins. If one wants to become the strongest General in the English army with a trusty steed by his side all that he needs to do is go to the "Balcony" and a woman will become his sidekick. There is even a place for men to become Justices of the Supreme Court; carrying out sentences to the women that they hire. Rooted with deep political and sexual undertones, this black comedy digs deep into your soul and your mind. Adapted by the play by Jean Genet, we watch as three men live out their fantasies as their troubled country is rocked right outside the doors by a gang of rebels.

With the revolution happening outside, the business has been tough, but the ladies seem to be surviving. Everyone is happy, until Peter Falk enters the scene. He plays the police chief who is trying to bring the rebels outside to justice. He is also the man who is dating the owner of the brothel played by Shelly Winters. He does not know how to bring the rebels to justice and keep the moral of the people and troops together when the Bishop, General, and Justice have all been murdered. Then he finds his answer in the least of places.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 28, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
On of the most memorable features of this film (besides the combo of Shelley Winters, Peter Falk and pre-spock Leonard Nimoy) is the sound track. The score is all Igor Stravinsky and features L'histoire de soldat and his octet for woodwinds.
I enjoyed this film immensely in 1963 when I was in my late teens and I enjoyed it again last year when I rented the tape.
Amusing and entertaining.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Absurdist Ad Nauseam on October 14, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
Producing Genet, whether for the stage or screen, is an arduous task. His elaborate characters, costumes, and scenes are enough to give any director more than a few bleeding ulcers. This film, however, effectively captures the spirit of "The Balcony." Not overly so, but enough to make for an enjoyable evening on a frigid winter night. Marked by capable acting and an unforgettable ending, "The Balcony" is worth the $18 price tag.
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By PJR on September 14, 2008
Format: DVD
The vile Marquis was also a philosopher and proposed that the obstacle to true democracy was that some individuals are driven to lord it over others. His solution was freedom for sexual perversions. Let them take out their needs in brothels and private bedrooms instead of positions of power.

Genet develops this theme by showing individuals taking out their fantasies of power with girls in a brothel.

When the leaders of society disappear what is to happen? The customers in the brothel can easily fill in and no one will notice or does notice. Society is ultimately run simply by people with fantasies of power and sex anyway. The brothel becomes a metaphor for society in general.

The film takes its name from a wonderful performance in which Peter Falk gives an empty but passionate and arousing speech from the balcony, acting out his childish fantasies of power.

I am not sure if the ending of the film works well or not. This is all totally crazy on the surface and is all really about subtext communicated through metaphor, and so it may hang together more tightly on a second viewing. I give the film high marks however for even daring to appear, and for some truly memorable performances in my opinion.

Obviously it is not a film for everyone. And if it had been my film I would have done a few things differently. Also it might seem a bit dated, and maybe too "European" for some. But I think that a viewer that goes in with open eyes and some artistic tolerance could agree with me that it deserves very high praise.
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