The Night They Raided Minsky's (The Night They Invented Striptease) - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Night They Raided Minsky's (The Night They Invented Striptease) Reviews

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Super Reviewer
July 1, 2016
Fizzes and crackles with energy, but it's not without gravitas. Great fun!
½ September 24, 2014
Norman Lear's period peek at a peculiarly American form of entertainment - burlesque - is most successful in its art direction and nostalgic recapturing of New York's lower East Side during its most hoydenish period.
½ June 23, 2014
Refreshingly accommodates both the repulsive seediness of the milieu and nostalgic attraction for an less sophisticated era with charmingly bad dance routines and exquisitely well-performed slapstick. An interesting musical score with both narration and a finale delivered by Rudy Vallee himself. Many fine actors in both lead and supporting roles.
June 23, 2014
It is cute and tell a nice story
August 6, 2013
Directed by William Friedkin, who had made his directorial debut with Good Times (1967), starring Sonny and Cher. While that flopped, it got him noticed, and he was given an offer by producers Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin to to this musical comedy based on Rowland Barber's 1960's novel. It's an enjoyable film that focuses on a time now gone and the kinds of entertainment that people enjoyed back 40 years previously. In 1925, Amish girl Rachel Schpitendavel (Britt Ekland) comes to New York from Pennsylvania to make it big as a dancer. A chance encounter with Professor Spats (Bert Lahr) brings her to Minsky's Burlesque, where she meets entertainer Raymond Paine (Jason Robards) and partner Chick (Norman Wisdom). The theatre has been under threat of closure when owner Billy Minsky (Elliott Gould) can't raise any money, and is battling moral crusader Vance Fowler (Denholm Elliott) as well. Rachel becomes a dancer at Minsky's, but matters are complicated when her stern, devout father Jacob (Harry Andrews) arrives in town to bring Rachel back home. It's got the look of one of those big overblown musicals that went around in the 1960's, but it's actually focused, and the comedy and musical routines are well staged in this film, Friedkin could do comedy well, it's a shame he hasn't tried it more often.
½ December 24, 2012
Robards and Wisdom, jiggles and bumps, great songs...and how the strip tease was born--A delightful nostalgic comedy!!
December 11, 2012
manages 2 capture the spirit & world of burlesque directed by the guy who did 'the exorcist'
April 21, 2012
What a stinker. This movie was nothing but rubish, and disgraceful. The people who made this should have thrown it out.
June 5, 2011
impressive cast tried 2 like this one but it mi9sses the mark.
½ February 26, 2011
Just a mere coffee break before William Friedkin made an almost consecutive string of such searing naturalistic dramas as The Boys in the Band, The French Connection, The Exorcist and Sorcerer, he showed up with The Night They Raided Minsky's, a low-brow farce which belongs in the pantheon of other throwback vaudevillian screwball romps from the Technicolor 1960s and early '70s, as in Take the Money and Run, the Pink Panther films, What's New Pussycat, It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, Bananas and What's Up, Doc? It shares the lagging sense of pace that some of them do---cursing those with one major inferiority to the 1930s and '40s pictures they embrace---as well as the urge to take what could be effective scenes and mash them into clunky montages. It also cannot remotely compare to What's Up, Doc?, the crowning achievement of this trend of the era helmed by Friedkin's New Hollywood rival Peter Bogdanovich. But The Night They Raided Minsky's is not without a secure handling of its risquà (C) content by a director who was hungry for big risks in a period of American cinema where progress was entirely fueled by them.

Instrumental in the commercial transformation of Hollywood in only a few short years, Friedkin's films often display a cold cynicism which belies the popular appeal of his future short-lived commercial success. The Night They Raided Minsky's is of a completely different spirit. It is a star-studded ensemble farce, fueled not so much by the breathtaking nature of any scene or story point but by the archetypal bearings of its performers. We have Elliott Gould delightfully playing up his deeply recognized Jewish identity, Denholm Elliott lovingly drawing from his always readily apparent English manners, Jason Robards working his all-American common-man staple. But whether stand-alone scenes work in and of themselves or not, the movie altogether truly appears to grasp this most-American art form.

Supposedly, burlesque surged in an era when America was at the onset of the modern moral uprising, when the rural Puritan standards and the makeshift culture of the cities came across one another. Burlesque was basically vaudeville and sex, and in the early days the sex was straightforward, guileless and practically inoffensive. This is the charm of this film, not the pratfalls, the jokes or the farce, even when they work well, which is where Friedkin's stamp really shows itself: Like a Friedkin picture, it is about more than it acts like it is. Friedkin recounts that very period, when there was an exhilaration and flourishing, boisterous burlesque that later vanished. His characters live a talkative, communal life, occupying cafeterias and eating outlandish, hysterically filmed meals. They view burlesque not so much as a profession, more a lifestyle.

The plot involves a young Amish girl played by Swedish future Bond doll Britt Ekland, who comes to the big city and is overwhelmed by the flashing marquees. The film opens with Rudy Vallee telling us in a vaudeville style that what we're about to see is based on "really true incidents that actually happened," that "in 1925 there was this real religious girlâ¦this real religious girl." Black-and-white images of Model A's on hectic streets, a dancing horse, acrobats, and numerous other impressions whip by, ultimately beholding a lively market street teeming with peddlers and pushcarts that bursts into color. There's a close-up on Ekland riding in bright-eyed on an el train. Her point-of-view peering out at the tenement-lined street erupts from black-and-white to color, as does her making her way down that street. She imbibes the zest and ambiance of a novel world, swarming but exhilarating. Austere gray skies but a vividm multihued event interspersed by more color swings visually signifying her inexperience.

Friedkin captures her coming in his naturalistic style of pursuing and exposing action. Her discovery of countless faces, vendors, merchants and ultimately the Minky's Burlesque Theater, is our discovery, too. We become partakers rather than just watchers. And the awareness to minutiae webs with our point-of-view on the marquee dropping to show Bert Lahr chomping a cigar, about to befriend the virginal greenhorn whose perspective we've shared.

She longs to dance at Minsky's. She is fought over by two comics (Norman Wisdom and Jason Robards), bird-dogged by her bearded, religious zealot father, and she suddenly, unwittingly and yet glamorously pioneers the striptease. And that moment when she finally invents the strip dance mostly to defy her father and other possessive male figures speaks so many volumes about the futility of utter conservatism and fundamentalism, how the more it pushes and the more it engulfs, the more shocking and extreme each explosion of rebellion and revolution will be, which of course is not to say that the scene itself threatens anything over PG-13 material, but the subtext is there.

Friedkin has intentionally employed stereotypes in casting. Ekland is as dovelike and guileless as Joan of Arc and her father is an emigrant from an Early Renaissance allegorical drama. So the story itself takes on some of the reduction and directness of the burlesque skits which freely exposes the action, which tends to compensate for the film's weakness since the editing often becomes a bit too unnecessarily frenzied rather than gazing decisively on the impact of a given image or scene.
February 18, 2011
I remember this movie was the one being shown at the movie theater when a kid would sneak down and open the side door of the movie theater and about 10 kids streamed in sneaking up to the seats. It must have been the spring of 7th grade.Otherwise it was The Mark Of The Devil which would have been the spring of 8th grade.
February 15, 2011
Luv Elliott Gould & Britt Ekland always.
½ December 18, 2010
The worst night of entertainment I ever knew. This silly charade of an Amish girl going to the stage to strip tease is sheer nonsense. Who the hell writes this stuff?

Comedy directed by no less than The Exorcist director William Friedkin.

This film is purely all about vaudeville as it shows scene after scene of the old acts on stage. It goes back once and a while to normal dialog and people, but its all about stage acts.

Obviously from the title these folks are doing something that the police do not like. They raid Minskys sooner or later don't they? Has lots of veteran, and I do mean old veteran actors like Bert Lahr (the cowardly lion in The Wizard of Oz).

Cinematography is very well done. This is one crazy film and I mean that in the worst, uncomplimentary way.


Cast:

Jason Robards as Raymond Paine
Britt Ekland as Rachel Elizabeth Schpitendavel
Norman Wisdom as Chick Williams
Forrest Tucker as Trim Houlihan
Harry Andrews as Jacob Schpitendavel
Joseph Wiseman as Louis Minsky
Denholm Elliott as Vance Fowler
Elliott Gould as Billy Minsky
Jack Burns as Candy Butcher
Bert Lahr as Professor Spats
½ February 20, 2010
Early film from director William Friedkin is a rollicking period comedy that brings to life the vaudeville stage. Great character performances - Jason Robards, in particular, steals the show - and sharp writing by Norman Lear, as well as some surprisingly innovative editing by Ralph Rosenblum. There are times when the antics do get a bit too over the top, but all in all, this is a fun, sharp nostalgic comedy.
RCCLBC
Super Reviewer
September 18, 2009
A very lovingly made homage to both vaudeville and burlesque.

Not overly glamorized into the typical slapsticky chuckle-fest that you might expect. While there is some of THAT...there is also a bit of the seedy and slightly dark underbelly of "the business" thrown into the mis, but done so in a way that doesn't make it feel gratuitous.

The acting is good, especially Britt Ekland who gives a GREAT performance.
Some of the cinematograpy and editing are genious and the costumes and set designs are SPOT ON.

All of these things REALLY serve to convey the look and feel of the era and make what could easily have been just another rambunctious romp through the "Roaring 20's" look and feel (at times) more like archival footage brought to life.
½ April 4, 2009
Great film, Almost everything you need to know about burlesque in one video.
½ March 21, 2009
I sat here while my dad watched the last half of this..lol..so I got a good feeling of how the movie is..xD...lots of montage of 1920s things..XD..and some odd scenes..and lots of 1920s burlesque action lol..I'll just give it 3/5 because I doubt I'll ever sit through the whole thing XD..and it'd seemed mildly entertaining for a boring afternoon xD..soo..hahah...yup.
September 22, 2008
The synopsis makes it sound funny.
August 24, 2008
A film that accuratley brings to life the 1920s around a Burlesque theatre. Great cast and performances make for an enjoyable Saturday afternoon movie.
May 24, 2008
This is a great one.
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