Comedian Lenny Bruce struck a subversive chord in an era of change in America. After getting his start as a conventional stand-up comic, Bruce's increasingly iconoclastic act transformed ...
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Iconoclast Lenny Bruce appears at San Francisco's Basin Street West in what was his next-to-last live appearance. His act that night consisted of reading allegations and transcripts from ... See full summary »
Looking for Lenny is an in-depth, controversial documentary that uses Lenny Bruce's legacy to explore the present condition of the fear of words and expression. It also tackles the issue of... See full summary »
It's December 1969 in Watford, England, and Jeremy Sloane is at the end of his rope - literally. His failed attempt to end it all has just joined a growing list of recent setbacks, which ... See full summary »
Since its premiere in 1986, this Emmy-winning documentary series has presented hundreds of hours comprising profiles of outstanding American cultural artists. Past subjects have included ... See full summary »
Comedian Lenny Bruce struck a subversive chord in an era of change in America. After getting his start as a conventional stand-up comic, Bruce's increasingly iconoclastic act transformed him into a leading figure of the 1960s counterculture. This is his story.
Funny, touching, a testament to the power of words
I caught this documentary on the Sundance channel, knowing Lenny Bruce very well as being influential (I listened to one of his later recordings) though not knowing a whole lot on why he became the most controversial comic of the pre-Vietnam era. What I learned was that Lenny Bruce's story - of rising to fame as a satirist and stand-up comic after working in strip joints, and then being put down by the legal machinations of the United States government - is both hilarious and engrossing, and here and there a (necessary) downer. What the system pulled over on Lenny was a travesty, and the mere fact that (technically) the charge of swearing/indecency still stands decades later is an insult to, if any, meaning by the constitution. When Lenny does do his act in the film, one who's never heard most of his material can be drawn in, the style in which he lays his bits is extraordinary. If one had to describe this film to someone who hasn't seen it, or perhaps might not know who Lenny Bruce is (most of my friends don't, though they know his descendents like George Carlin), 'Lenny Bruce: Swear to Tell the Truth' is about a terrific wordsmith who's self-esteem got crushed to oblivion & suicide by those who felt that they had the right over another person's language. It also includes some good narration by old Bobby De Niro. Grade: (strong) A
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