Behind the Burly Q- The Story of Burlesque in America
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Burlesque was one of America's most popular forms of live entertainment in the first half of the 20th century. Gaudy, bawdy and spectacular, the shows entertained thousands of paying customers every night of the week. And yet the legacy of burlesque is often vilified and misunderstood, and left out of the history books. By telling the intimate and surprising stories from its golden age through the women (and men!) who lived it, Behind the Burly Q reveals the true story of burlesque, even as it experiences a new renaissance.
DVD BONUS FEATURES INCLUDE: Three Featurettes:
- The Reunion
- Memorabilia & Costumes
- Behind the Scenes
Original Theatrical Trailer
Closed Captions. Color & b/w
Leslie Zemeckis has preserved for us a lively, lovely corner of American life. --Richard Schickel, Film Critic & Historian
Charming...a delight! It's great that Zemickis immortalized these women. --Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
A privileged front-row seat to the history of burlesque! Glorious ladies in their heyday...their long-ago stripteases still pack a sensual, sassy, what-the-hell punch, while juicy anecdotes run from raunchy to touching to funny to flat-out incredible. --Ronnie Scheib, Variety
Top Customer Reviews
Zemeckis, wife of producer/director/writer Robert Zemeckis, replaces anything that could be called judgmental with love. As she interviews these ladies, shows lengthy clips from their past and explains in a seemingly relaxed, but actually a strict and inclusive narrative, each element of life connected with this art form, this world of glamour and glitz comes back with a rosy hue. Yet Zemeckis never turns from the darker side of this life: exploitation, drug addiction, the mob, alcoholism and suicide. When one of the ladies is asked if she'd do it again or if she'd change anything as she looked back on what must be three quarters of a century, she explains with a gargantuan smile that she'd do it again . . . and not change a thing. That's love, commitment to art, and certainly a life well spent.
Alan Alda, whose dad Robert spent the early part of his career in Burlesque before conquering Hollywood and Broadway (notably with playing Nathan Detroit in the original Guys and Dolls), acts as a sort of chorus, speaking of the life of performers and remembering being mothered by the ladies of the chorus.
But the draw for this documentary are the ladies themselves---strippers with golden, and perhaps slightly tarnished, memories of past triumphs and defeats, memories of the glamour and the pain, the glory that was burlesque. Ann Corio, Tempest Storm, Gypsy Rose Lee, Lili St Cyr, Sally Rand, Margie Hart . . . all the wonderful performers are here, in clips and contemporary interviews. Behind the Burly Q is a slice of Americana in a near-forgotten memory of show business as it once was.
And never will be again.
"Behind The Burly Q"
Directed by Leslie Zemeckis
This bare-bones documentary (no pun intended) looks back at the golden years of American burlesque theater, a low-rent, erotically charged offshoot of the world of vaudeville, where comedians and musical acts shared the stage with young girls who did striptease acts and pushed the envelope of social propriety. Director Leslie Zemeckis (wife of mega-producer Robert Zemeckis) conducted several years of first-person interviews with a number of veteran performers, including many of the most famous striptease artists, along with club owners and other performers, telling their own stories about the glories and the misery of their profession. They are pretty frank about the downsides -- alcoholism and drug use, grubby venues, sexual harassment, legal hassles -- but most also look back fondly at the camaraderie and air of genial competitiveness, and at the excitement of being in show biz and finding a way out of the economic hard times of their Great Depression backgrounds. There are also connections to the wider world of famous entertainers: Alan Alda recalls being on tour with his father, actor Robert Alda, who worked as an emcee in the burlesque circuit, and at the decency and kindness of the performers he met as a child; others recall the days when Abbott & Costello warmed up the crowds with their comedy act. It's not a rosy-eyed, nostalgic look back, but even in their seventies and eighties, the interviewees have such large, generous personalities that it's hard not to be drawn in and charmed by their stories.
The heyday of burlesque was in the early 20th Century -- by the 1950s and '60s it had become a socially and economically marginal artform, under pressure by law enforcement on one side and a booming porn market on the other. A handful of performers made the jump into the celebrity culture of the postwar era, and even these women only got so far in the Hollywood and Broadway scenes. But when it was in full swing, burlesque was a popular artform, frequented by a wide swath of the public, ranging from drunks and roughnecks to families with children who came to the sometimes-cleaner matinee shows. Zemeckis has done a great service capturing the stories of these aging performers and preserving our memory of what was a very significant though largely forgotten part of American popular culture. (Many of the interviewees passed away before the film was finished; Ms. Zemeckis got there just in time.) I would have liked additional information about the project itself -- why Ms. Zemeckis took it on, how she tracked down all these old-timers -- but the film does a good job of speaking for itself. (On a tangential note: it would be interesting to see a similar film made about 19th Century minstrel shows, which is another big slice of American entertainment history which due to its racist content has been labelled as socially inappropriate and thrown into the trash bin, despite its enormous influence on vaudeville, blues, jazz and other American art forms... ) Anyway, if you have an interest in either American pop culture or in changing attitudes to sexuality and eroticism, this is certainly a film worth checking out. (DJ Joe Sixpack, Slipcue film reviews)
If you're looking for just pure dancing, you can't go wrong with old classics like Teaserama. But the strip acts featured are more a supplement to the story, vs. the main course. And yes, for the curious, there are a few bare bosoms.
well cover burlesque of the 30's and
later. My sister Jean Carroll and two
of my brother's-in-law are in it.
I was a burlesque brat from '32 to '37,
so I really enjoyed this !
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Set up an Amazon Giveaway
What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?
Look for Similar Items by Category
- Movies & TV > Genre for Featured Categories > Arts & Entertainment
- Movies & TV > Genre for Featured Categories > Performing Arts
- Movies & TV > Genre for Featured Categories > Special Interests
- Movies & TV > Independently Distributed > Documentary
- Movies & TV > Independently Distributed > Documentary
- Movies & TV > Musicals & Performing Arts