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Nothing Really Happens: Memories of Aging Strippers (2003)

The stories of three very different women - Tillie Hirsch, an elderly Holocaust survivor and Nobel Prize-winning author, Paula Brownell, a repressed college professor fascinated by ... See full summary »


Fred Newman
2 wins. See more awards »


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Credited cast:
Anthony Bagnetto Anthony Bagnetto ... Joey C.
Madelyn Chapman Madelyn Chapman ... Carmela Petrelli
Cecilia Foss ... Elvira
Roger Grunwald ... Mr. Hirsch
Jason Hale Jason Hale ... Bar Customer
Amy Hoerler ... Girl's Chorus
Judith Malina ... Tillie Hirsch
David Nackman David Nackman ... Jack Nayer
Donald Rizzo Donald Rizzo ... Marvin Kay
Mary Round ... Paula Brownell
Lindsey White Lindsey White ... Teenaged Carmela


The stories of three very different women - Tillie Hirsch, an elderly Holocaust survivor and Nobel Prize-winning author, Paula Brownell, a repressed college professor fascinated by burlesque and Carmela Petrelli, a Bronx-born stripper for whom "tits changed everything" - as experienced by Jack Nayer, a reporter who, before he met these three, "never really thought much about women." Written by Mary Fridley

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Official Sites:

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Release Date:

1 September 2003 (USA) See more »


Box Office


$300,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Freight Films,Island Media See more »
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Technical Specs


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User Reviews

Ultra-low-budget "think-piece" boasts terrific performances
13 May 2004 | by herbqediSee all my reviews

This movie was made for less than $400,000. Consequently, the production values of Nothing Really Happens are quite poor. The direction reflects a gifted amateur trying hard to make a really good student film -- some of it works, some of it distracts, some of it provokes, some of it just feels cheesy, but in the end, you find yourself rooting for it and interested in seeing it taken up the food chain somehow to the next level. The writing, acting, and character exposition are excellent, albeit just a tad rough around the edges.

In short, if you loved Gladiator, but found a Beautiful Mind slow and boring, and you hated Kiss of the Spider Woman, don't bother watching this film.

Start with the most accomplished actress/artiste in the film, the independent theater legend Judith Malina. She has essayed vivid characters in commercial movies filmed in New York such as Dog Day Afternoon, so some may already be familiar with her. Here, she has an exquisitely developed and well-written character ideally suited for her talents. She does not waste one iota of this opportunity. She portrays a Holocaust-survivor-turned-candy-store-owner's-wife-turned-Nobel-prize-winning-fictional-portrait-writer named Tillie Hirsch. It's an unforgettable performance that made me feel honored and privileged to have the opportunity to see it. But beyond Malina, amateur-auteur Fred Newman must be given credit for the vividly conceived irreverent lead character and the world he created around her.

But, Nothing Really Happens is NOT a one-woman show. As the aging stripper referenced in the second part of the film's title, newcomer Madelyn Chapman scores big-time. Her Carmela rolls with life's punches, taking what she can find useful, and leaving the rest. She and Tillie share an electric chemistry that defies description. David Nackman delivers as the "putsy" journalist who serves as the butt of Tillie's jokes and as a foil to advance the plot. The remaining principal character, a psychology professor played by first-timer Mary Pound, has two good moments right near the end, but otherwise wavers uncomfortably between character and plot device.

And, perhaps the best thing about Nothing Really Happens is that, true to its title and unlike many other independent films, it never takes itself too seriously.

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