The Night They Raided Minsky's
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
"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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
What a delightful movie. No violence NOT a huge plot but very entertainingPublished 7 months ago by J. Rosenfeld
Despite all the production problems this film endured, "Minsky" finally ended up a very enjoyable romp through the burlesque days and "discovery" of the striptease... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Anthony McGill
I like the movie but was unable to play it on my DVD player. There is something wrong with the disk.Published 18 months ago by Harry G. Hall
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 morePublished 19 months ago by Celia Trimboli
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 morePublished 20 months ago by Long Tom
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 moviePublished 22 months ago by Terry G
I only bought this movie as a friend of mine was in the chorus girls for only a few seconds of time.Published 24 months ago by Dick Mann