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Interview-style biography of controversial and pioneering stand-up comedian Lenny Bruce. The film traces Bruce from his beginnings as a Catskills comic to his later underground popularity based on his anti-establishment politics and his scatological humor. Written by
Scott Renshaw <email@example.com>
I saw this film during it's initial release in the theaters but have only seen it twice since then. It didn't get much of a TV life. Dustin Hoffman is stellar as social commentary/satirist/observationalist/blue language comic Lenny Bruce. He was nominated for Best Actor for the 1974 Academy Award for his role but lost out to Art Carney for Harry and Tonto. Veteran actor Albert Finney was also nominated that year but Carney won on sentiment and Hoffman lost out when he and fellow nominees Jack Nicholson for Chinatown and Al Pacino for Godfather II split the vote which led to Carney's win. Valerie Perrine in her only Oscar nomination of her career was up for Best Actress. Lenny was up for most of the major awards including Best Picture, Best Director for Bob Fosse. It was also nominated for Best Screenplay and Cinematography but came up empty in all six nominations. Hoffman had just come off playing another biographical figure of Louis Dega in Pappion and would be Carl Bernstein in his his next film All the President's Men. Lenny Bruce had only been dead for eight years when Hoffman portrayed him on the big screen so much of the audience knew Bruce fairly fresh in their memories so to portray a contemporary figure of Bruce's genius and legend was not an easy role for Hoffman to step into but his portrayal of the doomed and controversial comic is compelling. Fosse, known for his choreography which is still being used in films like Chicago years after his death only directed five theatrical films and three of those were musicals in Sweet Charity, Caberet and All That Jazz so Lenny would be the first of only two non-musicals he would direct, both biographies, Lenny and Star 80. I don't think as a film this had enough to be a best picture but Hoffman was deserved of his best actor nomination and arguably should have won the Oscar for it. I would give this an 8.5 out of 10 and recommend it.
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