Lady of Burlesque - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Lady of Burlesque Reviews

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½ August 31, 2016
Brassy wisecracks between the sprawling cast of burlesque characters are sort of amusing for a while, but a murder mystery plot that takes over things ends up being kind of flat and predictable. Stanwyck herself is always a welcome presence. However, my reaction to Michael O'Shea's comedian love interest mirrors her character's for the better part of the picture: he's mainly pretty annoying, and they have zip for chemistry together. It probably doesn't say much that the thing I enjoyed most about 'Lady of Burlesque' was Edith Head's costumes, but there you go.
½ February 3, 2015
Another fun acting job by Stanny - who; as usual - steals the show!
Super Reviewer
½ October 17, 2014
Although Babs had her some little personal experience in the burlesque game, and though she gives it her "that's show business!" all here (there's one scene she dances onstage that'd play any modern day medium ya got) she cannot save this "backstage at the burlesque"/murder whodunit that suffers from a screenplay that, while quick with the witty one-liners, unfortunately plays fast and loose with the intended conclusion.
½ March 31, 2014
This movie was based on a book written by Gypsy Rose Lee. In the book Gypsy Rose Lee is the main character. It's a graphic behind the scenes story of Burlesque theaters. It's fiction and is a typical 1940's pulp fiction mystery story. In the movie they changed the name of the main character and had to tone down the behind the scenes depictions because of the movie censors of the time. They added singing and music that wasn't in a Burlesque show but made the movie more entertaining. In real Burlesque the strippers stripped down to g-strings and pasties. In this movie they wear very elaborate costumes that would never be considered risqué. You never actually see any of the actresses wearing a g-string. They had comedians doing the actual comedy skits from Burlesque without the dirty jokes. The murder mystery in the movie turned out to be really tame with a Scooby Doo ending. Surprise, it was the old man. Burlesque died with television and Rock and Roll. The Burlesque strippers got old. Young people's taste in music changed and then in the 1960's and 1970's the courts overturned the laws against nude entertainment. Adult entertainment moved out of the old theaters and into bars where the customers could get up close to the nude go-go dancers dancing to Rock and Roll music. Comedians moved to TV and comedy clubs.
½ September 22, 2013
A murder mystery that is really an excuse to bring Vaudeville to the screen.
May 22, 2013
A murder takes place behind the scenes of a burlesque show. The film makes the most of a lazy screenlay with some amusing performances and entertaining musical numbers, but there isn't much to distinguish it from numerous other films of the kind.
Super Reviewer
½ April 23, 2012
An errant film with very little going for it except that at the time it was supposed to be shocking. It doesn't have much else to back it up except for the fact that it is led by none other than Barbara Stanwyck, who plays the beautiful and bodacious Dixie Daisy who is a burlesque headlining performer at a striptease theater called Old Opera Theater. Much of the film showcases inferior numbers from the singer and dancer, as well as comedienne, with many scenes backstage to show the voluminous costumes of her counterpart actresses. The film itself mostly takes place in the theater, and doesn't try to explore the characters or their performances as much as it should have. Everyone, including the leads, are so two dimensional and drab, a hard feat to accomplish in a film about striptease artists. The film soon varies into hard boiled detective thriller, but never is smart or intriguing enough to be true noir. Instead it stumbles on clumsy dialogue and plot devices which only serve to lengthen this film into ninety minutes. The humor is even humdrum, as this was in the days of the Hays Code and stays mostly family friendly throughout. If it had been as bawdy as a Mae West, really this film would have sizzled, but Stanwyck is given very little to work with. The only adult content is a hinted affair between the manager and a dancer who was blackmailing him, and the fact that several girls are being strangled to death with G-strings. The book that this was based upon was written by Gypsy Rose Lee, which doesn't give it any prominence and actually serves to cheapen it all the more. Stanwyck had earlier portrayed a performer in Ball of Fire, and in that film there was a lot more production value, better music, and more genuine a character with great humor. Stanwyck started in this line of work and it only makes sense that she would go back to it time and again in films, but this was just not the shocker it was meant to be, and in that, it suffers as a dull picture.
jjnxn
Super Reviewer
September 25, 2011
Saucy little mystery with a great collection of 40's blond wisecracking dames and of course the great Stanwyck. Even the usually vapid O'Shea is more animated and entertaining than his norm, this is probably his best screen performance.
September 8, 2011
A Fun take on Film Noir ,mixed with Comedy ,& is a Musical too ,with a very Fit & Fabulous Barbara Stanwyck as a Burlesque Vixen who Sings & Dances herself suggestively into a heap of trouble . The Stars of the Show are being strangled with their own G-Strings(yeah, they had them then, who knew?) & everyone is a suspect, including Dixie Daisy(Stanwyck).With the evidence pointing strongly to Dixie or she's about to become the next victim, she & Bitt(Michael O'Shea), who is sweet on her, set out to solve this crime before the Police jump to all the wrong conclusions.One minute you are on the edge of your seat biting your nails in fear, & the next minute you are laughing, or singing along.All of which to such superb effect,& with a Surprise, that is what makes this such a great film that can take you through such a range of emotions.
Super Reviewer
October 13, 2010
This is a funny and interesting look at the old burlesque shows. If that interests you, I recommend seeing this movie.
October 11, 2010
Whilst I feel that anything starring Stanwyck is worth a watch, this might be one of her lesser movies. There are some sharp lines, one pretty decent dance routine and, in Michael O'Shea, a strangely likable lead man, but with that said the plot is pretty silly, confused and hard to folllow and the characters, for the most part, are pretty ridiculous.
March 19, 2010
interesting, but sometimes fucking hard for me to understand.
August 17, 2009
No Author Need Be Mentioned

Here's a fun game I invite you to play along at home. Suppose it's 1943, and you're working in Hollywood. It is the days of the Code, of course, so your hands are, in some pretty important ways, tied. We clear so far? So okay. One of the most notorious celebrities in your world is a woman for whom no less than H. L. Mencken coined a new word to describe her job. She is everywhere. She is hugely stylish, and her name is on everyone's lips. She's written a mystery novel, a cute little potboiler (the evidence that she did not herself write it is uncertain), and you'd like to make a movie out of it. The new word, however, is "ecdysiast," and what it basically means is a high-class, highbrow stripper. The woman, you see, is Miss Gypsy Rose Lee. The book is actually called [i]The G-String Murders[/i], and you know that, for starters, there's no way Breen's going to let you use that title on movie posters across the country, even assuming any local governments or theatre owners would. As it happens, Breen wouldn't even let them mention who the author was. The title and main character's name (in the book, she's Gypsy herself) are now different, and any reference to the original is forbidden.

Here, Our Heroine is the lovely Miss Dixie Daisy (Barbara Stanwyck!), aka Deborah Hoople. She works at the Old Opera House burlesque theatre, doing what, well, a woman who works in a burlesque theatre does. Except of course that they don't show much of that onscreen. (You know, because of the Code?) Anyway, she and the other girls are fighting with Lolita La Verne (Victoria Faust) quite a lot, and one day, or night, Lolita shows up dead in a bathroom, strangled by her own g-string. Dixie discovers the body, in fact. The police call the whole group together and basically throw guilt all over everyone. This is not helped by the fact that someone has sneaked the "weapon" into the pocket of comic Biff Brannigan (Michael O'Shea), who is then caught trying to dispose of it. And, to make matters worse, "the Princess Nirvena" (Stephanie Bachelor) is murdered next.

Okay, so we know that there was no chance for a striptease, a real one. We know that there wasn't going to be much skin, even though quite a lot of the movie is set in the dressing room of a burlesque house. We see a couple of dance numbers and a couple of the comedy bits that were mostly just a sop to the morality codes--after all, it's a broad range of comedy, right? Just like vaudeville, right? (Well, Gypsy ought to have known, right?) We see a person or two dressed and ready to go onstage for a "bit," but I am not, in retrospect, sure we even see a midriff through the whole of the picture. However, this was not the part that amused me most. No, what amused me most of the obvious censorship of the original story (yes, I've read it) was that the plumbing fixture being unveiled with great ceremony is a sink in the movie. Now, I knew Breen had a thing about toilets; it's one of the reasons they were so determined to get one into [i]Psycho[/i]. It's still awfully silly.

It's not a bad little movie. Stanwyck is always worth watching, and she does some really impressive dancing, if not much acting, here. The supporting cast isn't bad, either, though it's not much of a trying role for anyone. It's true that the plot is not exactly the most subtle in the world, but the movie makes it work as best anyone can. The costumes are a little sub-par, frankly, which is disappointing in a movie set in a world so dominated by clothes. I'm not surprised that we don't spend much time looking at the titular (ha!) object from the book, but few of the costumes in the movie show the exhausting work Lee describes in the book. Indeed, one of the book's most suspenseful scenes (not that it's a terribly suspenseful book overall) involves Gyppy sitting up in the dressing room, a place where she can be sure she isn't disturbing anyone once the theatre's closed, sewing costumes. There's a lot of talk in any work by or about her about the costumes, and the same care is not shown here--though Edith Head did design Stanwyck's.

Much of the story gets trimmed down, both for time and for censorship. However, perhaps unnoticed by the censors is the idea that burlesque comics were hitting on her before she was of age. I think the implication is that she was hit on pretty much as soon as she started developing. Oh, they weren't all burlesque comics--she did, after all, start in vaudeville. But oh, yes, "Gyppy," as she is referred to in the book, knew some things about the sordid nature of backstage. There are fights among the women, stagehands who don't like them or what they do, the waiters in the Chinese restaurant next door who seem to be trying to just get a break from the staggering heat of their restaurant's kitchen--and who Lolita assumes are trying to spy on the women as they change, a thing I think silly in a burlesque theatre, but I guess privacy is where you find it. At any rate, in all of that, it's not surprising that the word "gunsel" has slipped through again. The mob ties of Louie Grindero (Gerald Mohr) did get brushed over, though.
½ May 18, 2009
As my grand dad said.." they made this movie for the boys" And it shows.
As far as the story line goes.. Barbara Stanwyck really helped this one along.
One of her most noted songs she sings is from this movie as well.And Iris Adrian as her side kick is a hoot.

I truly don't think any other Hollywood starlet could have pulled this one off.
Based on a book "the G-string murders" this is straight from the pulp fiction aisle to the silver screen.
I recommend seeing this to any one. Barbara and other costars held this one together and made it work.. so it's worth the watch!
May 14, 2009
Only for the Stanwyck fanatics (like me).
April 1, 2009
well umn just seen this movie 4 the 1st time n think that this is a good 1940's movie 2 watch...its got a good cast of actors/actressess throughout this movie..i think that barbara stanwyck, iris adrian, frank conroy, charles dingle, michael o shea play good parts throughout this movie..i think that this is a good black and white 1940's movie...i think that the director of this Mystery & Suspense, Horror, Classics, Musical & Performing Arts, Comedy movie had done a good job of directing this movie because you never know what 2 expect throughout this movie its a good movie 2 watch n its really enjoyable throughout as well
March 29, 2009
There is a strong and interesting set of characters for what is actually a more than just a murder mystery. It has good humour but also makes some subtle points about the industry it portrays.
February 14, 2009
Another must see of Barbara in her sexy attire
September 3, 2008
good story great performance by Stanwyck
March 5, 2008
Very good mystery film with Stanwyck as beautiful as ever! :)
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