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The Night They Raided Minsky's (1968)

Jason Robards , Britt Ekland , William Friedkin  |  PG |  DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)

Price: $23.99 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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The Night They Raided Minsky's + Behind the Burly Q- The Story of Burlesque in America
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Product Details

  • Actors: Jason Robards, Britt Ekland, Norman Wisdom, Forrest Tucker, Harry Andrews
  • Directors: William Friedkin
  • Writers: Norman Lear, Arnold Schulman, Rowland Barber, Sidney Michaels
  • Producers: George Justin, Norman Lear
  • Format: Color, Dubbed, Closed-captioned, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0), English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), Spanish (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Dubbed: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: United Artists
  • DVD Release Date: May 20, 2008
  • Run Time: 99 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0014BJ1AY
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #114,702 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Night They Raided Minsky's" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Product Description

One of the funniest, most entertaining movies-you-never-heard-of. Jason Robards shines as the well-meaning but manipulative comedian and Britt Ekland is the lovably innocent Amish girl in this affectionately, poignant but lighthearted view of Burlesque and a time gone by.

Before The French Connection made him a household name, William Friedkin drafted this love letter to the burlesque era. In 1925, Amish redhead Rachel (Swedish bombshell Britt Ekland) travels from Pennsylvania to New York to dance. On the advice of Professor Spats (The Wizard of Oz's Bert Lahr, who died during filming), she catches the variety show at Minsky's, which is run by the proprietor's son, Billy (Elliot Gould). Comic duo Raymond (Jason Robards) and Chick (Oscar nominee Norman Wisdom) enlist Rachel to perform her Bible routine, billed as the scandalous Madamoiselle Fifi, to make a fool out of moral guardian Vance Fowler (Denholm Elliot), who threatens to sic the vice squad on the theater if they don't tone things down. While helping her prepare, both men fall for "this real religious girl," but Chick, as Raymond puts it, "suffers from "the curse of the three Ds." He's "decent, devoted and dependable," while his partner is "a BFC," i.e. "Bastard First Class." Rachel gets the last word when she accidentally invents the striptease. Adapted from the novel by Rowland Barber (Somebody up There Likes Me) and produced by Norman Lear (All in the Family), Minsky's zips between comedy and drama through the rapid-fire editing of Ralph Rosenblum (The Producers), who inter-cut the newsreel footage in post-production. If the film feels like a battle between opposing sensibilities, i.e. art vs. commerce, warm-hearted entertainment wins out in the end. The only real crime is that this long-awaited title arrives without any extras. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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
Format: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
By A Customer
Format: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
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
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.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why not on DVD? September 24, 2007
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
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
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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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Cracked Seltzer Bottle August 3, 2008
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
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.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars I like the movie but was unable to play it on ...
I like the movie but was unable to play it on my DVD player. There is something wrong with the disk.
Published 2 months ago by Harry G. Hall
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
So funny
Published 2 months ago by Robert Ward
5.0 out of 5 stars The Night They Raided Minsky's
Lovely, nostalgic film of a bygone era that will definitely never return. A young Amish girl, stifled by the restrictions of her life and her roaring, lion-like father, comes to... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Celia DLF
3.0 out of 5 stars Could Have Been Better
The movie's greatest significance is that actor Bert Lahr, best known as The Cowardly Lion in "The Wizard Of Oz", had a starring role in it but died during production. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Long Tom
4.0 out of 5 stars Noeman Wisdom
I ordered the DVD to see the actor Norman Wisdom and they part he played in the movie to add to my collection of his films and enjoyed it including the rest of the movie
Published 6 months ago by Terry G
4.0 out of 5 stars A good oldie
I only bought this movie as a friend of mine was in the chorus girls for only a few seconds of time.
Published 8 months ago by Dick Mann
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic
Good good overall impression of Vaudeville, which was 'the' entertainment medium of that era. Read more
Published 12 months ago by G. Steele
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific Old Movie
Some of these old movies are absolutely wonderful, especially this one. I've watched it so many time; great fun to be had.
Published 13 months ago by Tossup
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth watching
Amazing. Tender photography and wonderful character development. I was not expecting such a beautiful movie. I just loved it. Bravo
Published 18 months ago by KC
5.0 out of 5 stars Review and Spoilers: The Night They Raided Minsky's
This movie is a gem of a film, made in another decade about an era long past. See if you can identify the characters from their other well known films. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Dexter
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