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The Night They Raided Minsky's
The Night They Raided Minsky's
Actors: Jason Robards, Britt Ekland, Norman Wisdom, Forrest Tucker, Harry Andrews
Director: William Friedkin
Genres: Comedy
PG     2008     1hr 39min

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 ...  more »

     
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Movie Details

Actors: Jason Robards, Britt Ekland, Norman Wisdom, Forrest Tucker, Harry Andrews
Director: William Friedkin
Creators: Andrew Laszlo, George Justin, Norman Lear, Arnold Schulman, Rowland Barber, Sidney Michaels
Genres: Comedy
Sub-Genres: Classic Comedies
Studio: United Artists
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned,Dubbed,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 05/20/2008
Original Release Date: 01/01/1968
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1968
Release Year: 2008
Run Time: 1hr 39min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 11
MPAA Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Languages: English, Spanish
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French

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Movie Reviews

This is comedy and nostalgia at its best! Genuine Good Time!
07/27/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"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."
See it for the atmosphere - and the turns
D. M. Farmbrough | Wisconsin, USA | 11/23/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"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."
Why not on DVD?
Richard Best | Security, CO United States | 09/24/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"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."
Robards and Wisdom, jiggles and bumps, great songs...and how
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 07/23/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"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. Chick just falls for Rachel. Minsky's, however, is on the verge of closing. Then Raymond has an idea. They'll advertise a midnight show featuring Mademoiselle Fifi, "the hottest little cooch artist in the world." When Fowler shows up with the cops, Fifi will be Rachel doing her Bible dances. Fowler will be a laughing stock and Minsky's will be saved.

Now forget all that. What's important is the sweet nature of this burlesque gift. Most of the movie takes place backstage, on stage and in a near-by deli. It's a great, true deli, where we have bowls of half sours on the table and plenty of chunks of rye bread. (In that deli we'll watch Raymond nearly sweet talk a good looking woman at the next table into his bed, and then sweet talk her husband, who suddenly appears, into agreeing Raymond just gave them both a great compliment. Robards is as smooth as warm chicken fat.)

Backstage is packed with sets, lights and half dressed chorus girls, but it's on stage where the goods are delivered...chorus girls who can barely dance but can jiggle with vigor and bump with oomph. Jason Robards and Norman Wisdom do wonderful work together. Robards is the wise-guy straight man to Wisdom's eternally innocent optimist. Their song and dance numbers really work. We'd expect this of Wisdom, who got started in English music halls and became one of Britain's great clowns. Robards, who was one of America's great stage actors, is almost as skilled. Their "Perfect Gentleman" number by rights should be a remembered classic. I don't know how Friedkin managed it, but the people in the audience look authentic, right down to their delighted reactions.

The Night They Raided Minsky's also has a clever script. Says Raymond to Chick when the little guy wants some reassurance after meeting Rachel. "You met a girl!" says Raymond with a big smile. "Ah, Chick, my boy, when it comes to girls you have three qualities that are far worse than being short and funny looking. You have the curse of the three D's. You are decent, devoted and dependable...good qualities in a dog, disastrous in a man!"

Charles Strouse scored the movie and, with Lee Adams, provided great songs. "The Night They Raided Minsky's," "Take Ten Terrific Girls" and "Perfect Gentleman" establish more than anything else the good-natured, fast, harmlessly bawdy style of the movie. The Night They Raided Minsky's had a troubled parentage, with director William Friedkin disliking it and film editor Ralph Rosenblum claiming credit for everything good about it. There's more jump cutting than we need and perhaps a few too many historical clips. Still, we have potent nostalgia for things past that no one now is alive to remember. The movie carries Norman Lear's imprint at his best, and if Rosenblum and Friedkin want to arm wrestle over the movie, that's all right with me. Who cares who cut the paper lace for the valentine? I'm just happy we've got it.

I'm ready for Dexter Maitland as the tenor to see us home...
"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.
Mix in some amber lights and elegant scenery, then stir in a fine jazz band.
Then add some funny men
And pepper with laughter.
It's hot and tasty I know.
Then serve it piping hot and what have you got...
A burlesque show!"

The DVD is bare bones and looks fine."