Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Dustin Hoffman, Valerie Perrine, Jan Miner, Stanley Beck, Frankie Man
Director: Bob Fosse
Two-time OscarĀ(r) winner* Dustin Hoffman brings controversial 60s comedian Lenny Bruce tolife in this landmark (Variety) film that earned six OscarĀ(r) nominations,** including Best Picture. A jagged portrait of a man... more »
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A. Gyurisin | Wet, Wild, Wonderful Virginia | 12/17/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I went into this film knowing nothing about the comic Lenny Bruce, and after watching this film I have already added two of his CDs to my Wish List. I am eager to hear more, to listen to his words, and be intrigued by how his thoughts are still relevant in today's society. This was a beautiful film made in 1974. The decision by director Bob Fosse to film it completely in black and white was brilliant. Hoffman and Perrine's chemistry is brilliant as well as their performances. The power of this man is vividly demonstrated through this film, leaving you with questions answered as well as a desire to hear more. This was such a captivating feature. From the opening sequence of words spewing from a mouth to the final shot of Lenny Bruce, I was glued to my seat.
To begin, the cinematography was better than most feature films. Fosse knew what he was doing and did it with the greatest of ease. His choice to film completely in black and white really helped me hear the words that Bruce spoke instead of just being involved in the colors that surrounded him. The black and white feature gave Hoffman the ability to create a human from his character and take us away from Hoffman and into the mind of comic Lenny Bruce. The shots that Fosse used also assisted with building this compelling story. Every shot is important in this film, and Fosse does a great job of demonstrating and explaining the "why" and "where" of a scene. This was his first and only nonmusical, and he was triumphant. The way that the story works in a pseudo-documentary style was impeccable. While you are never quite told who the person is behind the camera, you do get that raw emotion from the actors as if you were watching a real documentary. There was just so much emotion that Fosse pulled from his troupe in this film that you could only watch in amazement. It also left the door open to the question of who is behind the camera. With the words that Bruce said nightly in his show, I couldn't help but think of the possibility of government conspiracy. Maybe I am way off, but there was that aura of "cover-up" throughout this film. Even the final sequence gives off that sense.
BAM - Powerful cinematography is right in front of you, but whom do we have in the center of the camera? None other than a very young and fresh Dustin Hoffman. This film really showcased his talents. While he had several films before this one that brought him into the spotlight, I thought that he went above and beyond for this film. He really transformed himself into the character. Some of my favorite moments with Hoffman in Lenny was when he thinks about the nurse the first time, when Honey calls asking for money, and when he asks the Judge to sentence him now instead of going through the trial. The vision of defeat was spectacular. You see in this film why Hoffman is considered one of the greats of Hollywood. Valerie Perrine, also a young actress at the time, was immaculate. Her portrayal of Honey needs to go in the history books. Actresses today could take a moment or two to learn from this dramatic actress. These two actors really brought this film together. They took you deep into the life of this radical thinker and kept you nestled deeply inside of him. They shined greatly, and the Academy saw it too!
BAM - Cinematography, BAM - award winning acting, what can be the final BAM? How about Lenny Bruce? Born well after his death, I had never even heard of the man, but the words that I witnessed from this film from his mouth shocked me. Not so much because of the shock value that surrounded them, but just how relevant his work is still today. As homosexuality becomes a staple in our community and society, Lenny's comments on the teachers in this film seemed like topics we are still talking about today. He was way ahead of his time, and I think that is why people feared him. Living with an English teacher, I am constantly involved with the English language, but I am also shown information about those that have no interest because they do not see how it relates to "real" life. I am also aware of how little respect English gets as daily we hear of schools cutting back on their Literature studies to help support their sports program, or how the first way to cut back spending is to close libraries. These are sad days that we live in, and if only people could see how powerful words can be in defending yourself and explaining the world, I think we would see a rebirth. If I had the option to fight with a loaded gun or an aggressive dictionary, I think you can see which I would choose. Lenny Bruce did no harm to anyone, he spoke his mind, and for that he was convicted. What a sad day for America.
Grade: ***** out of *****"
Great Cinema, Incomplete History
J. Merritt | 11/02/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Bob Fosse was an amazing talent, and there is much to love about this movie from a cinematic and stylistic standpoint. As a history of Lenny Bruce, however, the picture is selective and over-dramatized. As, I suppose, any biopic has to be, but the selectiveness here seems imbalanced and the dramatization unnecessary. It's a decent introduction to the subject of Lenny Bruce, just don't take it as the whole and gospel truth. And Hoffman--amazingly gifted and one of my favorite actors though he may be--simply does not communicate the live presence that this man had.
Buy a few Lenny CD's (I would recommend Carnegie Hall and the Curran Theater), watch the documentary "Swear to Tell the Truth," watch "Lenny Bruce Without Tears," and if you really wanna get into the minutae then read the book "The Trials of Lenny Bruce" by Ronald Collins and David Skover. Then you'll begin to get the real picture of a brilliant, flawed, hilarious man and his relevance to the First Amendment and the social revolution of the 60's and 70's. Lenny was history. This is just a movie."
The best overlooked film ever!
A. Gyurisin | 06/24/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"3 great films came out of 1974. The Godfather Part 2, Chinatown, and Lenny. The first two are remembered as masterpieces but the third, no one ever seems to talk about. Why? Lenny is a movie that is equal to Chinatown and Godfahter 2. If I was in the Academy, it would be tough to decide to give the Oscar to Pacino or Hoffman but it would be a scandal to vote for Art Carney. How Hoffman didn't get the oscar is beyond me. Some critics say Hoffman was miscast as Lenny Bruce because he isnt funny. I read material on the real Lenny Bruce saying he was not hilarious at all. Hoffman knew this. The critics didn't. Valerie Perrine acts so great. She should have gotten the Oscar. Fine direction from Bob Fosse. Great screenplay by Julian Barry. Some people might call me stupid but I think this is the best picture of 1974. What a great year that was. Im only 13 but sometimes I feel sad because I would like to go back to 1974 and by myself, go to the theater, sit down with popcorn and a coke, and watch Lenny. But I never will and that is very sad for me. They don't make great movies like they used to."
One of Dustin Hoffman's Best Performances
Brian | London, England | 06/21/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A powerful biography of the brilliant but doomed night-club comedian Lenny Bruce. Taking the form of a pseudo documentary, an unseen interviewer questions Bruce's wife, mother, and agent about his life. We are shown Bruce's early 50's beginnings as an unremarkable comic performing hackneyed material. He then meets Honey Harlow, the stripper who becomes his wife. Their marriage is happy at first. Then they get involved with drugs and swinging, which cause problems and they eventually divorce. This first half of the film uses the effective technique of frequently cutting to one of Bruce's later performances to illustrate how these experiences inspired some of his routines. Meanwhile, during a period working as an MC in strip joints, Bruce develops the improvisational style for which he became famous. He moves back to the nigh-clubs, wher his daring satire brings him acclaim and (initially) fortune. Eventually the authorities take notice, and he is subjected to a string of busts for obscenity and drugs, which make it increasingly difficult to get work. Bruce's legal and money problems pile up, and he finally dies of a drugs overdose. In some ways then, Lenny is a typical Hollywood rags-to-riches-to-rags biopic, but here spiced up with a liberal dose of 70's permissiveness. Its sparse Black and white photography effectively compliments Bruce's increasing despair. The supporting cast are all good, and Valerie Perrine is particularly strong as Bruce's wife. But it is Dustin Hoffman who dominates the film. His performance as Bruce is compelling, especially in the night-club scenes. Precious little film exists of the real Lenny Bruce in live performance. Watching Hoffman recreate his routines is the next best thing. For that alone, this film is to be commended."