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Lenny Bruce Without Tears (1972)

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Ratings: 6.2/10 from 93 users  
Reviews: 6 user | 8 critic

Documentary on the life and death of Lenny Bruce.


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Credited cast:
Lenny Bruce ...
Himself / Various (archive footage)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Himself / DJ (archive footage)
Fred Baker ...
Martin Garbus ...
Himself (archive footage)
William Glenesk ...
Himself (archive footage) (as Rev. William Glenesk)
Nat Hentoff ...
Himself (archive footage)
Frank Hogan ...
Himself (archive footage)
Paul Krassner ...
Himself (archive footage)
Malcolm Muggeridge ...
Himself (archive footage)
Himself (archive footage)
Jean Shepherd ...
Himself (archive footage) (as Jean Shepard)
Kenneth Tynan ...
Himself (archive footage)


This documentary tells the story of the rise and fall of Lenny Bruce (1925-1966), hip comedian and bête noire to the establishment. The film makes the case that Bruce was impoverished and broken by a series of unjust arrests and prosecutions in the 1960s. Clips of Bruce performances, "bits" as he calls them, dominate the film, from Steve Allen's TV show to night-club appearances late in life when he would mine his arrests for material. Malcolm Muggeridge calls Bruce a moralist. A former assistant district attorney from New York in effect apologizes for his part in persecuting Bruce. The bounce and snap of Bruce in the 50s transform into ironic social commentary. Written by <>

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5 July 1972 (USA)  »

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Fair Documentary
11 September 2012 | by (Louisville, KY) – See all my reviews

Lenny Bruce Without Tears (1972)

** (out of 4)

Somewhat stale documentary taking a look at the career of Lenny Bruce. At around 75-minutes there's really not too much going on with this documentary except giving some basic information about the comedian. We learn about his early days on the stage and how he wasn't a hit. We learn that he became famous once he started talking about more controversial subjects. We then learn that he turned to drugs, began getting arrested for his act and eventually died at a young age. If you're already familiar with Bruce then it's doubtful any of the information given here is going to take you by surprise. I'm going to guess that perhaps this here was needed back in 1972, just to remind some newer people of who Bruce was. Today this bits of information really isn't all that needed since we've got countless other documentaries, the Dustin Hoffman picture and countless other bits of media about the comedy legend. The majority of the running time is devoted to Bruce's acts as we see him at a press conference talking about the crimes being committed against him as well as his appearances on The Steve Allen Show as well as audio clips from his concerts. These here are perhaps the main reason to watch this documentary since you get to see Bruce in action, although today his material is so tame that it's almost hard to imagine anyone getting offended by it. Overall, LENNY BRUCE WITHOUT TEARS is a bit too boring and doesn't give us enough interesting information on the comic to make it worth sitting through.

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