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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Why doesn't everybody just love this movie? It is one of most delightful comedies that I have ever seen. I saw it when it first came out in the cinema and watched it three times that first week and at least four times since.
It is a very stylized movie, with an introductory narration right out of the 1920's. The style carries right through the film, with wonderful vaudeville routines. The "girls" are not particularly beautiful and are, by current standards a little overweight. Also they seem to be going through the motions with a variety of personalities. They do not have beautiful singing voices and they do not dance in perfect synchronization but nobody, especially them, seems to care. Burlesque is, after all, light entertainment. The comedy skits are very simple and unintelligent but they are performed with great panache. Sir Norman Wisdom (born 1915), the great British stage and screen clown of the Charlie Chaplin ilk, and Jason Robards Jr., the dapper Oscar-winning, American actor of the classic stage are the two central male characters and are both attracted to the beautiful Amish girl who has left home to dance stories from the Bible on stage. Wisdom is a master clown and can move in ways that are magically humorous. Burlesque has two meanings, with two spellings: - a humorous and provocative stage show featuring slapstick humour, comic skits, bawdy songs, striptease acts, and a scantily clad female chorus. (Burlesk) - an artistic composition, especially literary or dramatic, that, for the sake of laughter, vulgarizes lofty material or treats ordinary material with mock dignity. (Burlesque) The movie is a burlesque about burlesk. It also makes fun of religion, stage performances, censorship, prudery, friendship, business, fraud, crime, police, audience intelligence, class distinction, love, seduction, hypocrisy, etc. The mood is intense from start to finish, with several collages of scenes from the past and the movie's present. When I was not laughing out loud, I was laughing inside. The comedy on the stage is very elementary but the comedy in the story is often quite subtle and intelligent. Back to the initial question I think that the movie may be too stylized for many people to enjoy, especially since the style has long been almost extinct. But if one accepts the style and allows oneself to become immersed in it and flow with it, the movie can be great.
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