IMDb > Lenny Bruce in 'Lenny Bruce' (1967)

Lenny Bruce in 'Lenny Bruce' (1967) More at IMDbPro »


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Plot:
Iconoclast Lenny Bruce appears at San Francisco's Basin Street West in what was his next-to-last live appearance... See more » | Add synopsis »
User Reviews:
Lenny Bruce nearing the End - Funny but Damaged See more (10 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order)
Lenny Bruce ... Himself

Directed by
John Magnuson 
 
Writing credits
Lenny Bruce 

Produced by
John Magnuson .... producer
 
Other crew
Bob Anderson .... production team
Ken Chaney .... production team
Jeff Hale .... production team
Bob Hovorka .... production team
Dan McCann .... production team
Rick Smith .... production team
 

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Additional Details

Also Known As:
"The Lenny Bruce Performance Film" - USA (promotional title)
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Runtime:
72 min
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Featured in Fuck (2005)See more »

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful.
Lenny Bruce nearing the End - Funny but Damaged, 3 December 2005
Author: Geoffrey Parfitt (geoffparfitt@supanet.com) from United Kingdom

I'm a Lenny Bruce fan. I know about Lenny Bruce, and I know about 'The Lenny Bruce Performance Film'. I know the circumstances under which the film was made, and the circumstances of Lenny's life and career at that time. Consequently, my expectations for this performance were low.

But from the very start... he's good. Not brilliant... but good. Unfortunately, good is such a come-down for Lenny Bruce. And the performance is not helped by the way it is filmed. Lenny is never seen in full figure, which tends to be the best way to show stand-up. The dim lighting was also as strong as Lenny's eyes could stand.

He looks rather chubbier than in his prime, and the trademark sharp suit has been replaced with looser clothes to hide his bulkier body. But THIS IS Lenny Bruce performing on film, and it is because so little of this exists, this this film has the fascination it does.

Lenny is working with a document in hand - a transcript of one of his prosecutions - and the bulk of his performance revolves around what this contains... How what he has said and done in nightclubs was misrepresented by the legal system of America.

And this main section of his performance works remarkably well. He knows the points he wants to make, he easily find the sections of the transcript he needs, his vocal technique is still very much in evidence, and he is FUNNY.

But very soon, we see what is lacking in this Lenny Bruce. The incisive mind may still be there, but the playfulness is gone. While discussing the law, he talks about mime artists losing their "freedom of speech". What an opportunity! He misses what could have been one of the best laughs of the night.

But even this adequate performance can't be sustained. The end is heart breaking. An obligation of this performance was that Lenny reproduce some of the classic routines of just a few years earlier... and suddenly he tries.

Very sad. He can't do it. He can't reproduce his original passion or delivery of those bits. Maybe he can't remember. One routine lasts a few seconds, before he tries another. Important lines we know should be there are missing. Lenny is clearly in trouble.

It is like watching one of those "peace officers" he earlier criticizes for hopelessly trying to portray Lenny Bruce the performer in court. Without the real Lenny Bruce speaking, these famous routines quietly die a death.

Eventually the performance dwindles to a close. Lenny goes to a side door, and improvises some lines to passers-by. We can't really hear what he is saying, and it seems embarrassing to try. After a minute or so, the door allows his escape.

This was Lenny's next to last nightclub performance. Within a year he will be dead.

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