A stripper is murdered with her own G-string backstage during a performance. Everyone is a suspect, but the show must go on! Old-time burlesque on the Great White Way before the lights went out in New York's Times Square. ... more »Screen legend Barbara Stanwyck, action director William A. Wellman and famed Gypsy Rose Lee team up to create the best backstage musical murder mystery ever made! Based on actual incidents (and folklore) from the underbelly of the show biz world. It ain't Shakespeare, but it's a lot of fun!« less
"The most surprising thing about LADY OF BURLESQUE was that it got made at all. Burlesque was all but dead by 1942, shut out of most towns and cities by relentless moral crusaders, and Hollywood itself was mired in the infamous "production code," which put a heavy lid on what could and could not be shown on screen. But burlesque had spawned a number of stars who remained favorites with public, and in 1941 the legendary Gypsy Rose Lee penned a book called THE G-STRING MURDERS. It proved extremely popular, and a year later United Artists took a chance on the film project.True enough, the movie couldn't show the strippers in action or play out the bawdy comic sketches so popular in burlesque, but writer James Gunn turned in a superior script, and director William Wellman and his cast gave the whole thing tremendous dash and style. The result was a movie that captured the seedy, underworld-edged world of burlesque without actually causing censors to yank it from distribution.In theory, LADY OF BURLESQUE is a murder mystery, but mystery takes a back seat to the brawling backstage antics of crossed love affairs and star rivalry. Barbara Stanwyck endows star stripper "Dixie Daisy" with her own memorable brand of tough class--and although she can only be shown from the waist up when she bumps and grinds, she still manages to tear strips off her musical number "Play It On The G-String." The rest of the cast is equally memorable, many of them burlesque stars in their own right. Pinky Lee (Mandy) is memorably teamed with Marion Martin (Alice Angle) to delightful effect; Iris Adrian (Gee-Gee)is the gum smacking brash blonde to end all gum smacking brash blondes; and such memorable character actors as Michael O'Shea (Biff), Gloria Dickson (Dolly), and J. Edward Bromberg (Foss) round out the cast superbly.Sad to say, LADY OF BURLESQUE has fallen into public domain, and it has not been well preserved. I have seen several releases of the film, and all of them are plagued with breaks in the film and the soundtrack. This particular DVD release, however, is definitely "as good as it gets;" unlike some other versions, the picture is sharp and clear and the sound is extremely good. LADY OF BURLESQUE may never be regarded as a "great" film, but it is an extremely entertaining one, particularly for those who already know something about the now-lost world of burlesque. As one character says, "Makes me want to leave the wife!" Recommended.GFT, Amazon Reviewer"
SHE SINGS! SHE DANCES!
MOVIE MAVEN | New York, NY USA | 07/29/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Yes, Barbara Stanwyck sings and dances in her very first scene in the backstage story of burlesque performers involved in murder called LADY OF BURLESQUE. Based on Gypsy Rose Lee's silly, charming novel "The G-String Murders," the movie is a guilty pleasure for me. I have never stopped loving it since the first time I saw it. Stanwyck is, to me, one of the best actors Hollywood has ever produced: top of the line in comedy (see THE LADY EVE) and in serious drama (see DOUBLE INDEMNITY). Watch her tame Gary Cooper in BALL OF FIRE and weep along with her in STELLA DALLAS. William Wellman who also directed superb films such as WINGS, PUBLIC ENEMY AND BEAU GESTE has a fine time with the various backstage types in this grainy black and white tribute to a dead art form.There has never really been a perfect edition of the movie for public consumption. I've even seen an edition minus any credits whatsoever and usually the editing seems like it was done with a pinking shears. This DVD version is probably the best one can buy right now and there are no special features, unless you consider Stanwyck performing "Take It Off The E String--Play It On The G String" a special feature. It is. She bumps, she grinds and the camera stays chastely above her waist.There are several musical numbers and a few comic sketches that give us a taste of what burlesque must have been. The supporting cast is terrific. It includes Pinky Lee as a comic, Iris Adrian as a tough but friendly stripper and Michael O'Shea as Stanwyck's love interest. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for show business fans. If you're looking for a good murder mystery, look elsewhere."
BARBARA BUMPS AND GRINDS.....
Mark Norvell | HOUSTON | 10/11/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This must be the film where Barbara Stanwyck proved she could (and would) do almost anything. Based on Gypsy Rose Lee's book "The G-String Murders", strippers in an old Opera house turned burlesque theater are being strangled with their G-strings. And our heroine Dixie Daisy (Stanwyck), the headliner, smells a rat. Fending off advances from a third-rate comic, she sets out to find the killer. Much cattiness and attitude from the other strippers pepper this delightful black comedy as Dixie tries to keep the show going while putting together clues and trying to save her own neck. Lee relied on her own personal experiences as a burlesque queen to give this story the realistic touches it has. And when Stanwyck hits the stage in a VERY scanty outfit (that must have given the censors fits) she's right at home singing a little bump & grind ditty called "Take It Off The E-String, Play It On The G-String". She's surprisingly sexy and has the necessary old-style panache that makes her performance a delight. The DVD from Image is immaculate and this is a must have for Stanwyck fans. Supporting cast is excellent and the characterizations are right on the money. A fun, fun movie worth watching over and over. My favorite line (and there are many): Man to Dixie,"Did I startle you?"....Dixie to Man: "Are you kidding? I've been startled by EXPERTS." Don't miss this one. It's just pure pleasure all the way."
One of Cinema's Forgotten Treasures
Gary F. Taylor | Biloxi, Mississippi, USA | 07/24/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Although Stanwyck gives an expert and charming performance in the role of a 1940s Burlesque Queen who must unmask a serial killer before she becomes his next victim, the real pleasure of "A Lady of Burlesque" is the hard-knocks supporting cast of actual burlesque performers as they screech, brawl, snap and jive through a witty and for its time rather racy script. With most of the action played backstage in a 1940s "grindhouse," the film offers a fascinating glimpse into the now largely-lost world of burlesque itself. It should lay ya in the aisles. But a word of warning: the film is often sold as a "bargain" title and I've found some quality issues on various tape releases."
AMBIENCE - MURDER - BURLESQUE: WHO COULD ASK FOR ANYTHING
Heather L. Parisi | St. Augustine, FL USA | 02/22/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"IN A NUTSHELL:
How did this film get past the censors? Nevertheless, an excellent film featuring a very young and steamy Barbara Stanwyck -- 63 years ago!
WHAT "LADY OF BURLESQUE" STARRING BARBARA STANWYCK IS ALL ABOUT:
This dark comedy-drama-mystery, Directed by, William Wellman was also known as "Striptease Lady" or "The G-String Murders", based on the book of that title by Gypsy Rose Lee. Producer, Hunt Stromberg, who purchased the rights for the film, was also the Producer of "The Thin Man" film series. The atmosphere of this film did have a resemblence to that series, but "LADY OF BURLESQUE" is much grittier, and less class-conscious in every respect. Nevertheless, the melding of backstage atmosphere, and burlesque-vaudeville style, stage entertainment, gave the film an urgent immediacy, and a texture of surreal reality, which is hard to create, especially in the era of film censors. For those reasons, this film is rather special, and certainly worth a look. The bonus comes in the form of Barbara Stanwyck [Dixie Daisy] who plays the provocative headliner, and who comfortably goes through the film as scantily clad as a "James Bond Girl". Of course, the murder-mystery is set at the burlesque house itself, which works rather well, and eventually leads the police and Ms. Stanwyck to the killer.
PARTIAL LIST OF THE CAST OF THE "LADY OF BURLESQUE"
-----*- Barbara Stanwyck - Dixie Daisy -----*- Michael O'Shea - Bitt Brannigan -----*- J. Edward Bromberg - S.B. Foss -----*- Iris Adrian - Gee Gee Graham -----*- Marion Martin - Alice Angel -----*- Gloria Dickson - Dolly Baxter -----*- Pinky Lee - Mandy -----*- Victoria Faust - Lolita La Verne -----*- Stephanie Bachelor - Princess Nirvena
-----*- William Wellman - Director -----*- Hunt Stromberg - Producer -----*- James Gunn - Screenwriter -----*- Gypsy Rose Lee - Short Story Author -----*- Robert de Grasse - Cinematographer -----*- Art Lange - Composer (Music Score) -----*- James Newcom - Editor -----*- Joseph B. Platt - Production Designer -----*- Bernard Herzbrun - Art Director -----*- Edith Head - Costume Designer -----*- Natalie Visart - Costume Designer
Excellent old film that has been very well transferred to DVD in both sound, and video.