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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars See it for the atmosphere - and the turns
Jason Robardes shines as the well-meaning if manipulative comedian and Britt Ekland is slightly miscast as an innocent Amish girl. The story is however subsidiary to the beautifully created setting of a burlesque night club. The music in particular enhances the atmosphere as do the claustrophobic sets and authentic performances.
The film loses focus because of its...
Published on November 23, 2001 by D. M. Farmbrough

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Cracked Seltzer Bottle
This movie is a great big flawed bundle of fun, fun enough to make it worthwhile in spite of itself.

As theater history, it's oversimplified and just short of coy. Nudity didn't come to the popular stage by way of Minsky's, and there were far worse shows for raunchiness (Earl Carroll's, anyone?). As for the movie itself, I suspect its inner unity suffered a...
Published on August 3, 2008 by Brent R. Swanson


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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars See it for the atmosphere - and the turns, November 23, 2001
This review is from: Night They Raided Minsky's [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Jason Robardes shines as the well-meaning if manipulative comedian and Britt Ekland is slightly miscast as an innocent Amish girl. The story is however subsidiary to the beautifully created setting of a burlesque night club. The music in particular enhances the atmosphere as do the claustrophobic sets and authentic performances.
The film loses focus because of its length and the sheer number of stars. Sometimes it seems Elliot Gould is the star, sometimes, Robardes. But the nominal stars of the film are upstaged by both Norman Wisdom who throws everything into his performance, and the great Bert Lahr, more well-known as the cowardly lion from the Wizard Of Oz, who died during filming. This is not a deep film, but an affectionate (and reportedly accurate) portrait of a time gone by.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is comedy and nostalgia at its best! Genuine Good Time!, July 26, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Night They Raided Minsky's [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Seeing Britt Ekland step off the subway and observe the sights of the Lower East Side as the picture slips from color to black & white in the opening scene is great to see again after many years is refreshing! I have to admit that this is one of my favorite films and William Friedkin's zestful direction and Bert Lahr's splendid appearance as Professor Spats is truly a great thing to see. Allthough the subject of the early days of striptease isn't the best subject for families, this could work out to be a good family film (!!) and for people willing to find out what burlesque and vaudeville was actually like, this Norman Lear ("The Jeffersons") production is a visual treat. This is funny, vibrant, and highly nostalgic! See it and I can guarantee that you'll enjoy it. Take my word for it.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Robards and Wisdom, jiggles and bumps, great songs...and how the strip tease was born, July 23, 2008
By 
C. O. DeRiemer (San Antonio, Texas, USA) - See all my reviews
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The lights dim. The curtain goes up. The girls are on stage. The spot hits the tux-wearing tenor, silver haired and a little plump.
"I have a secret recipe
Concocted with much skill
And once you've tried my special dish
You'll never get your fill...

"Take ten terrific girls, but only nine costumes, and you're cooking up something grand..."

The Night They Raided Minsky's is a valentine to the long-gone burlesque houses of the Twenties. Naughty, bawdy and surprisingly innocent, filled with chorus girls who might generously be called a little past their prime, with plenty of belly work, with comedians and their second bananas, with pratfalls, seltzer bottles and song and dance acts. This Norman Lear/William Friedkin/Ralph Rosenblum movie has it all. It even has a story. Most of all, it has some great songs by Charles Strouse and Lee Adams, wonderful performances by Jason Robards and Norman Wisdom, and a collection of pungent characters played by the likes of Elliot Gould, Forrest Tucker, Bert Lahr, Harry Andrews, Joseph Wiseman, Jack Burns, Denholm Elliot and Dexter Maitland. And we're there when history is made, as Britt Ekland playing an innocent Amish girl from Smoketown, Pennsylvania, who longs to perform her Bible dances on stage, inadvertently invents the strip tease.

Billy Minsky runs Minsky's Burlesque. Vance Fowler, secretary of New York's Society for the Suppression of Vice, is determined to close it down. Then Rachel Elizabeth Schpitendavel shows up. She's young. She's innocent. She's built. She catches the eye of headliner Raymond Paine (Jason Robards), a song, dance and straight man who works with his second banana, the small, mild and fall-down physical Chick Williams (Norman Wisdom). Paine wants Rachel to fall into his bed. Chick just falls for Rachel. Minsky's, however, is on the verge of closing. Then Raymond has an idea. They'll advertise a midnight show featuring Mademoiselle Fifi, "the hottest little cooch artist in the world." When Fowler shows up with the cops, Fifi will be Rachel doing her Bible dances. Fowler will be a laughing stock and Minsky's will be saved.

Now forget all that. What's important is the sweet nature of this burlesque gift. Most of the movie takes place backstage, on stage and in a near-by deli. It's a great, true deli, where we have bowls of half sours on the table and plenty of chunks of rye bread. (In that deli we'll watch Raymond nearly sweet talk a good looking woman at the next table into his bed, and then sweet talk her husband, who suddenly appears, into agreeing Raymond just gave them both a great compliment. Robards is as smooth as warm chicken fat.)

Backstage is packed with sets, lights and half dressed chorus girls, but it's on stage where the goods are delivered...chorus girls who can barely dance but can jiggle with vigor and bump with oomph. Jason Robards and Norman Wisdom do wonderful work together. Robards is the wise-guy straight man to Wisdom's eternally innocent optimist. Their song and dance numbers really work. We'd expect this of Wisdom, who got started in English music halls and became one of Britain's great clowns. Robards, who was one of America's great stage actors, is almost as skilled. Their "Perfect Gentleman" number by rights should be a remembered classic. I don't know how Friedkin managed it, but the people in the audience look authentic, right down to their delighted reactions.

The Night They Raided Minsky's also has a clever script. Says Raymond to Chick when the little guy wants some reassurance after meeting Rachel. "You met a girl!" says Raymond with a big smile. "Ah, Chick, my boy, when it comes to girls you have three qualities that are far worse than being short and funny looking. You have the curse of the three D's. You are decent, devoted and dependable...good qualities in a dog, disastrous in a man!"

Charles Strouse scored the movie and, with Lee Adams, provided great songs. "The Night They Raided Minsky's," "Take Ten Terrific Girls" and "Perfect Gentleman" establish more than anything else the good-natured, fast, harmlessly bawdy style of the movie. The Night They Raided Minsky's had a troubled parentage, with director William Friedkin disliking it and film editor Ralph Rosenblum claiming credit for everything good about it. There's more jump cutting than we need and perhaps a few too many historical clips. Still, we have potent nostalgia for things past that no one now is alive to remember. The movie carries Norman Lear's imprint at his best, and if Rosenblum and Friedkin want to arm wrestle over the movie, that's all right with me. Who cares who cut the paper lace for the valentine? I'm just happy we've got it.

I'm ready for Dexter Maitland as the tenor to see us home...
"I have a secret recipe
Concocted with much skill
And once you've tried my special dish
You'll never get your fill...

"Take ten terrific girls, but only nine costumes, and you're cooking up something grand.
Mix in some amber lights and elegant scenery, then stir in a fine jazz band.
Then add some funny men
And pepper with laughter.
It's hot and tasty I know.
Then serve it piping hot and what have you got...
A burlesque show!"

The DVD is bare bones and looks fine.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why not on DVD?, September 24, 2007
By 
Richard Best (Colorado Springs, CO, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Night They Raided Minsky's [VHS] (VHS Tape)
One of the funniest, most entertaining movies-you-never-heard-of. Part of the fun is how it recreates the early era of vaudeville, during a time when even sexual jokes and innuendo were charmingly innocent. All the characters are wonderfully portrayed and acted, the writing is a delight, and the plot is an effective blend of knock-down comedy that manages to not diminish some truly poignant elements of the story. I haven't seen this on TV in years, and that's a shame, but it's even more of a shame that it's not available in a quality DVD edition.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Take Ten Terrific Girls -- And Only Nine Costumes...., June 20, 2008
By 
Randy Buck (Brooklyn, NY USA) - See all my reviews
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Finally, the glorious MINSKY'S makes it to DVD! Not a perfect movie, by any means, but one of the most charming ever made. While the picture has many pleasures, ranging from Bert Lahr's last turn as the washed-up Professor Spats (a role that had to be whittled down when Lahr died mid-production), to fine performances from Jason Robards -- his dead eyes have never been put to better use than here as the predatory comic -- and Norman Wisdom, showing us why he was so beloved in England, MINSKY'S crowning glory is that enchantress, Britt Ekland. All peaches and cream and a smile that could light up Broadway, the lady may not be much of an actress, but she's dazzling here. Add a chorus line of lovable schlumps, a tenor who's seen better days, hilarious choreography from Danny Daniels, a delightful score from Strouse and Adams (you'll recognize one tune here they recycled for ANNIE), and throw in a fine jazz band -- and you're cooking up something hot! This film's headed to Broadway as a full-scale musical, but while we're waiting, there's plenty of entertainment waiting for you at Minsky's on the Lower East Side. Can you tell I LOVE this movie?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A obscure classic,,,, February 20, 2009
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I first saw this film while I was stationed in Iceland, It was broadcast from Denmark or Norway, A very Late night movie. I remember trying to watch it through static and snow, and never saw it again.. The film is a accurate look at Vaudille for 1925. One of the Minsky family was a production consultant. Brit Ekland is beutiful as always (no plastic surgery on her) Jason Robards was also very convincing as well. One high point is the appearance of Burt Lahr (The cowardly lion) in what I think is his final film. All of the skits that were performed came from actual shows from the 1920's.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally! The Gem Arrives!, May 30, 2008
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As a professional Theatre person, I relished this film from the first moment I saw it on screen forty (yes 40!) years ago. It came out on VHS in a poor transfer years ago with a deficient soundtrack. The DVD arrived and lept right into my upscaling player. I was reminded why this film is so dear to me. I speak from experience when I say "The Night They Raided Minsky's" perfectly captures the spirit and ambience of the early Burlesque genre. The film is perfectly cast, shot with great imagination and ability to place the experience in time. The soundtrack score and songs are iconic (some are original BQ routines). If you want to step back in time enjoying a pristine transfer with good (well, better) soundtrack - buy or rent this beauty. For it's subject matter, it's so wholesome and innocent - many families can watch it together. Warn everyone about the quick breast shot at the end. My, we've come a long way. I'm not so sure we shouldn't consider returning to a more innocent era.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Cracked Seltzer Bottle, August 3, 2008
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This movie is a great big flawed bundle of fun, fun enough to make it worthwhile in spite of itself.

As theater history, it's oversimplified and just short of coy. Nudity didn't come to the popular stage by way of Minsky's, and there were far worse shows for raunchiness (Earl Carroll's, anyone?). As for the movie itself, I suspect its inner unity suffered a permanent blow with the unexpected death of Bert Lahr during production. "Professor Spats" was obviously supposed to have a bigger role in the story, and Lahr all but steals the show anyway, even if he's only symbolically present in the final heart-tugging scene.

Lahr is certainly more watchable than a miscast Jason Robards, who is just too old to be sympathetic or even acceptable as naive Britt Ekland's love interest. Robards seems more like a predator than a suitor, making his sudden change-of-heart unconvincing.

The movie totters back and forth from farce comedy to human drama, while its take on history has to be taken with as much salt as those "Genuine Belgian chocolates--with the nuts inside!" However, in what other movie are you going to find Britt Ekland, Norman Wisdom, Elliot Gould, Denholm Elliot, Forrest Tucker, Bert Lahr, Jack Burns (a riot as the candy butcher), dear old Judith Lowry as dear old Mother Annie, a very young Richard Libertini, the voice of Rudy Vallee, and the jovial Dexter Maitland (doing what he did at Minsky's), reviving the shadow of burlesque and doing so with contagious joy? The music itself is worth the cost of this very basic, no-extras disk. And for added fun, try counting how many studio names appear in the packaging and credits.

The only major complaint I can make about this movie is that it didn't include more than a few lines from classic burlesque comedy routines (thank burlesque the next time you enjoy Abbott and Costello, the Three Stooges, and even "The Wizard of Oz"). Overall, this movie still packs some bellylaughs and pulchritude (there is a fleeting glimpse of breasts, so beware if kids are in the room). Whaddya waiting for--go get it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A GREAT old movie, November 24, 2009
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Minsky's is a great comedy about the days of vaudeville vs. Burlesque and a naive young girls venture into show business. Just a delightful story, a lot of laughs and generally entertaining.

Better than most TV....try it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good fun, July 19, 2008
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I've very fond memories of this film and delighted now to own a copy. The film I believe, had some production problems at the time, but the end result is hugely enjoyable and Norman Wisdom is a treat in a role that he is perfect for.The Embroidered Corpse
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Night They Raided Minsky's [VHS]
Night They Raided Minsky's [VHS] by William Friedkin (VHS Tape - 1994)
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