I remember when this picture was fighting to get a distributor and it was shown in New York at one theater only. I heard so many people say that Bernie Travis was more like Lenny Bruce than Dustin Hoffman was in the later Bob Fosse film. It is a damn shame that nobody can see this picture today in any form. I remember being upset that the original Broadway star Cliff Gorman (an amazing actor who can be seen as a Lenny Bruce like comic in segments of the later Bob Fosse film "All That Jazz") was not cast in the flashy glossy Hollywood project. (Particularly ironic since Hoffman, Ina Playboy interview said he wondered why Gorman wasn't cast instead of him. No mystery there, Dustin. You were the bigger box office draw and Cliff Gorman was not a known commodity outside of the Broadway stage.)
My problem with Hoffman's performance was that he was not convincing as a stand-up comic in the on stage performances, and that he did none of the character voices Lenny was famous for. The truth is that Hoffman asked comedians like the late Rodney Dangerfield what it was like to do stand-up only to be told that you had to do it to know.
While no impressionist, Lenny did some very funny voices that fit within the framework of his most elaborate bits like the astounding "Comedian bombing at the London Palladium." Gorman did all the stuff Lenny did, and could most probably would have had a great career at stand-up, and yet, Hollywood decided to go with a star power name instead of giving a great actor a chance at becoming a star (much like Coppola did with a young upstart named Al Pacino. It's a real shame.)
But, alas, this film is in the ether unless someone with a print and some money can put it out on DVD and promote it as the lost Lenny Bruce film biopic.
One can only wish.
Sure, it is a low budget film that looks like a low budget film, but it gives us perhaps a better glimpse of what could have been done with the fascinating story of the great Lenny Bruce.
I hope that someday someone will make a better film about Lenny that doesn't pull any punches.
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