The Lenny Bruce Performance Film
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Top Customer Reviews
This is Lenny at the end of his life. It is August of 1965 and he has less than a year to live. The effects of four years of unrelenting persecution and personal self destruction are painfully evedent. He's not the Lenny of 1959: The hyper-energetic, brilliant young comic who burst apon the national consciousness with two riotous appearances on the Steve Allen Show. By the summer of 1965 it is obvious to even the most casual of viewers that Lenny Bruce is a broken, dying man.
And yet, even in this tragic condition, he is still screamingly funny. Some people have criticized his obsession with the American legal system during this period as ponderous and rambling. But when viewed within the context of historical hindsight and a knowledge of his own personal saga, Lenny's observations are fresh and eye opening.
A writer from Newsweek once refered to Lenny Bruce as "a sad, sick, self destructive genius of a dirty time". This film is an important document that records what it was that made him so unique.
But from the very start... he's good. Not brilliant... but good. Unfortunately, good is such a come-down for Lenny Bruce. And the performance is not helped by the way it is filmed. Lenny is never seen in full figure, which tends to be the best way to show stand-up. The dim lighting was also as strong as Lenny's eyes could stand.
He looks rather chubbier than in his prime, and the trademark sharp suit has been replaced with looser clothes to hide his bulkier body. But THIS IS Lenny Bruce performing on film, and it is because so little of this exists, this this film has the fascination it does.
Lenny is working with a document in hand - a transcript of one of his prosecutions - and the bulk of his performance revolves around what this contains... How what he has said and done in nightclubs was misrepresented by the legal system of America.
And this main section of his performance works remarkably well. He knows the points he wants to make, he easily find the sections of the transcript he needs, his vocal technique is still very much in evidence, and he is FUNNY.
But very soon, we see what is lacking in this Lenny Bruce. The incisive mind may still be there, but the playfulness is gone. While discussing the law, he talks about mime artists losing their "freedom of speech". What an opportunity! He misses what could have been one of the best laughs of the night.
But even this adequate performance can't be sustained. The end is heart breaking.Read more ›
I always wonder about the anonymous giver. Cause the anonymous giver truly is the egomaniac: "I'm so GOOD--I'm not going to tell ANYbody." That's sick, man. I'm going to leave you with this, that the only anonymous giver is the guy that knocks up your daughter.
The performance itself rambles a bit too much even for a fan like me. It focuses on Lenny's obsession with his own persecution and the legalities of what he does. Its good stuff but it will put most people off.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I REALLY LIKED THIS PICTURE AS
HIGH SCHOOL KID IN THE '80'S
LENNY BRUCE was the cuttig edge comedian back then
butther was hardly any funny about this movie... Read more
There was so little film shot of Lenny's standup it's almost criminal, there are more recordings but still an insufficient body of work to represent his contributions to the field... Read morePublished on January 17, 2013 by McDuff426
Lenny Bruce was at about the end of his rope when this performance was filmed. By that time, he appeared on stage with a court manuscript talking about all of the mistakes the... Read morePublished on August 25, 2012 by M. Salmestrelli
Starting with the Dustin Hoffman movie Lenny I've been fascinated by this comic. His biography by Goldman does a complete dive into Bruce's life including discussing all of his... Read morePublished on May 20, 2012 by R. Spell
There are two ways to look at this 1965 San Fransisco performance, one of the last by great Lenny Bruce. A master improviser or an addict reeling out of control. Read morePublished on August 30, 2010 by Bill Your 'Free Form FM Print DJ
In the one-hour 1965 video originally called simply "Lenny Bruce," a clearly distracted Lenny thumbs through a NY court transcript and recreates bits that during his trial were... Read morePublished on January 14, 2010 by Annie Van Auken
Lenny Bruce was not "dirty". He did not tell dirty jokes. The reason he is still current is that is that he was truly funny. Read morePublished on July 16, 2008 by Jazz Person
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