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Rachel arrives in New York from her Amish community intent on becoming a dancer. Unfortunately Billy Minsky's Burlesque is hardly the place for her Dances From The Bible. But the show's comedian Raymond sees a way of wrong-footing the local do-gooders by announcing the new Paris sensation "Mme Fifi" and putting on Rachel's performance as the place is raided. All too complicated, the more so since her father is scouring the town for her and both Raymond and his straight-man Chick are falling for Rachel. Written by
Jeremy Perkins <email@example.com>
Bert Lahr's part was intended to be larger, but the actor died during filming. See more »
Stock footage shown in reverse. Shot from raised track after Rachel is first seen looking out train window in opening sequence shows old, B/W footage of people walking on street below. As train "approaches" the street corner below, a man can be seen walking backwards. See more »
A curiously innocent Mulligan stew of bawdy humor and music.
This can be a wonderful guilty pleasure, as it mixes a little (and I mean a little) skin, music hall numbers, traditional burlesque routines, a slightly salacious backstage story, and film-style slapstick.
Jason Robards and Norman Wisdom are a very convincing comedy team, although Robards is a bit dark. Give the actor and the filmmakers credit for maintaining the character as a ruthless SOB and not trying to make this guy cute and lovable.
You'll also see Bert Lahr (the Cowardly Lion) in his last film performance, which had to be truncated as he died during production (his role would have been more important and added a touch of surrealism). Also on hand is Elliott Gould, in pre-"Bob, Carol, Ted & Alice" days as a sweet schnook (and the title character), as well as Forrest Tucker as a gangster, Jack Burns as a candy butcher (that's the guy who sells the crummy boxes of candy that MIGHT have a watch in them--and if you believe that...,) Denholm Elliott (Indiana Jones' friend) as the guy who conducts the raid, as well as some real burlesque dancers and comics from the old days.
Adams and Strouse, who wrote BYE BYE BIRDIE contribute a small group of peppy songs, including "From Head To Toe You're A Gentleman" a duet for Robards and Wisdom (the latter a beloved variety star in Britain) and the immortal production number, "Take Ten Terrific Girls But Only Nine Costumes And You're Cooking Up Something Grand."
Britt Ekland inadvertently invents the striptease (it's complicated, read the plot synopsis), but reliable rumor and legend is that the breasts on display belong to a double. Incidentally, the nudity here is about as extensive as in Titanic, so if your kids have already seen that, this will not corrupt them.
The fact is the whole thing is a curiously innocent Mulligan stew of comedy and music, given its subject matter.
Norman Lear wrote and produced in his pre-ALL IN THE FAMILY DAYS, and William Friedkin directed in his pre-FRENCH CONNECTION days. According to the book "WHEN THE SHOOTING'S DONE THE CUTTING BEGINS" by Ralph Rosenblum, the film's editor, Friedkin shot the film indifferently and left immediately. Rosenblum spent the best part of a year recutting the film with the blessing of United Artists production chief David Picker. Rosenblum uses a technique of editing in hokey old silent footage to indicate to the audience that no one is taking the story too seriously, which lifts the curse over some purple writing and acting. Also Rosenblum seems to have invented a trick of mixing authentic B&W archive footage with new footage printed in black and white, which suddenly switches to color. This is an exciting and startling effect the first couple of times, but it is a bit overplayed.
Anyway, this film is better than you probably think it is, and better than it needs to be. Give it a look, it couldn't hurt.
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