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The Night They Raided Minsky's (1968)

PG-13 | | Comedy | 9 May 1969 (Italy)
A naive Amish young woman runs away from her home in Pennsylvania to New York City where she hopes to act in religious stage plays but ends up performing in Burlesque theatre.

Director:

William Friedkin

Writers:

Arnold Schulman (screenplay), Sidney Michaels (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jason Robards ... Raymond Paine
Britt Ekland ... Rachel Schpitendavel
Norman Wisdom ... Chick Williams
Forrest Tucker ... Trim Houlihan
Harry Andrews ... Jacob Schpitendavel
Joseph Wiseman ... Louis Minsky
Denholm Elliott ... Vance Fowler
Elliott Gould ... Billy Minsky
Jack Burns ... Candy Butcher
Bert Lahr ... Professor Spats
Gloria LeRoy Gloria LeRoy ... Mae Harris
Eddie Lawrence Eddie Lawrence ... Scratch
Dexter Maitland Dexter Maitland ... Duffy
Lillian Hayman Lillian Hayman ... Singer in Speakeasy
Richard Libertini ... Pockets (as Dick Libertini)
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Storyline

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 <jwp@aber.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

If You Can't Stand The Terrific Girls (10 Count 'Em 10) There's Always The Comics See more »

Genres:

Comedy

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for suggestive content and brief nudity | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

9 May 1969 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

The Night They Invented Striptease See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$3,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Tandem Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Black and White | Color (DeLuxe)| Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Because of the excessive overtime generated by shooting around the death of Bert Lahr, Norman Lear gave gifts of initialed Tiffany silver money clips to many of the crew members, at the wrap party. See more »

Goofs

Rachel refers to herself as "Amish". The word "Amish" is a term used by non-Amish; the Amish would refer to themselves as the "plain folk". See more »

Quotes

Rachel Schpitendavel: [Raymond is moving fast to seduce Rachel before he has to go on stage again] One thing I wish only. But then it is asking too much.
Raymond Paine: What?
Rachel Schpitendavel: I dreamed that the first time, there would be a sign to tell me it is right.
Raymond Paine: A sign?
Rachel Schpitendavel: From Him. A sign. The Lord moves in wondrous ways.
Raymond Paine: Yeah, well, uh, why do you want to talk about things like that? We're not here to pray.
[Rachel stiffens, and pulls away]
Raymond Paine: Hey, look, I've heard of everything, but a man and a woman with normal desires hanging around waiting for...
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

The words in the title flash on the screen individually in between shots of the raiding vice cops. See more »


Soundtracks

Perfect Gentleman
(uncredited)
Music by Charles Strouse
Lyrics by Lee Adams
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Robards and Wisdom, jiggles and bumps, great songs...and how the strip tease was born
23 July 2008 | by Terrell-4See all my reviews

The lights dim. The curtain goes up. The girls are on stage. The spot hits the tux-wearing tenor, silver haired and a little plump.

"I have a secret recipe / Concocted with much skill / And once you've tried my special dish / You'll never get your fill...

"Take ten terrific girls, but only nine costumes, and you're cooking up something grand..."

The Night They Raided Minsky's is a valentine to the long-gone burlesque houses of the Twenties. Naughty, bawdy and surprisingly innocent, filled with chorus girls who might generously be called a little past their prime, with plenty of belly work, with comedians and their second bananas, with pratfalls, seltzer bottles and song and dance acts. This Norman Lear/William Friedkin/Ralph Rosenblum movie has it all. It even has a story. Most of all, it has some great songs by Charles Strouse and Lee Adams, wonderful performances by Jason Robards and Norman Wisdom, and a collection of pungent characters played by the likes of Elliot Gould, Forrest Tucker, Bert Lahr, Harry Andrews, Joseph Wiseman, Jack Burns, Denholm Elliot and Dexter Maitland. And we're there when history is made, as Britt Ekland playing an innocent Amish girl from Smoketown, Pennsylvania, who longs to perform her Bible dances on stage, inadvertently invents the strip tease.

Billy Minsky runs Minsky's Burlesque. Vance Fowler, secretary of New York's Society for the Suppression of Vice, is determined to close it down. Then Rachel Elizabeth Schpitendavel shows up. She's young. She's innocent. She's built. She catches the eye of headliner Raymond Paine (Jason Robards), a song, dance and straight man who works with his second banana, the small, mild and fall-down physical Chick Williams (Norman Wisdom). Paine wants Rachel to fall into his bed. Chick just falls for Rachel. Minsky's, however, is on the verge of closing. Then Raymond has an idea. They'll advertise a midnight show featuring Mademoiselle Fifi, "the hottest little cooch artist in the world." When Fowler shows up with the cops, Fifi will be Rachel doing her Bible dances. Fowler will be a laughing stock and Minsky's will be saved.

Now forget all that. What's important is the sweet nature of this burlesque gift. Most of the movie takes place backstage, on stage and in a near-by deli. It's a great, true deli, where we have bowls of half sours on the table and plenty of chunks of rye bread. (In that deli we'll watch Raymond nearly sweet talk a good looking woman at the next table into his bed, and then sweet talk her husband, who suddenly appears, into agreeing Raymond just gave them both a great compliment. Robards is as smooth as warm chicken fat.)

Backstage is packed with sets, lights and half dressed chorus girls, but it's on stage where the goods are delivered...chorus girls who can barely dance but can jiggle with vigor and bump with oomph. Jason Robards and Norman Wisdom do wonderful work together. Robards is the wise-guy straight man to Wisdom's eternally innocent optimist. Their song and dance numbers really work. We'd expect this of Wisdom, who got started in English music halls and became one of Britain's great clowns. Robards, who was one of America's great stage actors, is almost as skilled. Their "Perfect Gentleman" number by rights should be a remembered classic. I don't know how Friedkin managed it, but the people in the audience look authentic, right down to their delighted reactions.

The Night They Raided Minsky's also has a clever script. Says Raymond to Chick when the little guy wants some reassurance after meeting Rachel. "You met a girl!" says Raymond with a big smile. "Ah, Chick, my boy, when it comes to girls you have three qualities that are far worse than being short and funny looking. You have the curse of the three D's. You are decent, devoted and dependable...good qualities in a dog, disastrous in a man!"

Charles Strouse scored the movie and, with Lee Adams, provided great songs. "The Night They Raided Minsky's," "Take Ten Terrific Girls" and "Perfect Gentleman" establish more than anything else the good-natured, fast, harmlessly bawdy style of the movie. The Night They Raided Minsky's had a troubled parentage, with director William Friedkin disliking it and film editor Ralph Rosenblum claiming credit for everything good about it. There's more jump cutting than we need and perhaps a few too many historical clips. Still, we have potent nostalgia for things past that no one now is alive to remember. The movie carries Norman Lear's imprint at his best, and if Rosenblum and Friedkin want to arm wrestle over the movie, that's all right with me. Who cares who cut the paper lace for the valentine? I'm just happy we've got it.

I'm ready for Dexter Maitland as the tenor to see us home...

"I have a secret recipe / Concocted with much skill / And once you've tried my special dish / You'll never get your fill...

"Take ten terrific girls, but only nine costumes, and you're cooking up something grand.

"Then add some funny men / And pepper with laughter./ It's hot and tasty I know.

"Then serve it piping hot and what have you got... A burlesque show!"


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