Lenny (1974) Blu-ray Review: They Call Dustin Hoffman Bruce?

Yep, it's a happy kind of picture, kids. But at least you'll be able to see sultry Valerie Perrine in the buff!
  |   Comments

In this day and age, it seems highly laughable that the very sort of individuals we pay to openly laugh at would run afoul with the law for doing what the do best. I refer to stand-up comedians, of course, and not politicians - although, to a less intentional degree, we wind up doing the same with the latter. In fact, it was the very latter who made both the life and career of a comic in the 1960s become particularly troublesome, thus whipping up a tendentious media circus that finally wrapped up a good forty years later with a posthumous pardoning. Yes, boys and girls, we're talking about the one and only Lenny Bruce here - the legendary East Coast comic who was one of the first (if not the first) funnymen to get serious.

Here, Dustin Hoffman - though far removed from remotely resembling the now-iconic celebrity as can be - convincingly brings the late Lenny Bruce back to life for this biopic as directed by Bob Fosse. Presented in a delirious documentary style, the film cuts back and forth from pivotal moments in Bruce's career, from his marriage to stripper Honey Harlow (Valerie Perrine), his controversial obscenity trial (and conviction) in 1964, and his unfortunate demise in 1966 at the end of a needle. Yep, it's a happy kind of picture, kids. But at least you'll be able to see sultry Valerie Perrine in the buff! (So buy it for that alone if nothing else.) Jan Miner, Stanley Beck, and Gary Morton co-star in this adaptation of the Julian Barry play.

Director Bob Fosse further incorporated Lenny - well, a fictional variation of it, at least - into his own semi-autobiographical masterpiece All That Jazz five years later. Several years after that, dialogue delivered by Hoffman (as Bruce) directly from the film could be heard in an extremely obscure Italian-made hardcore horror short from the early '80s called Sexplosion. Sure, it's an extremely useless and incredibly trivia piece of information (for a piece of shit film, at that!), and the title itself is one which only a few people have seen (and have usually regretted doing so), but I decided to throw that out there just the same. You just might be able to win a pub trivia contest armed with that information someday. Who knows.

Twilight Time's Blu-ray brings us a stunning look at a captivating motion picture, which presents the black-and-white classic in as clear and crisp of a presentation it has probably ever had, with some scenes looking like they could have been shot recently with an HD security camera. But in a good way, mind you. The 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC presentation is accompanied by a DTS-HD MA Mono soundtrack with optional English (SDH) subtitles. Extras include an audio commentary by Nick Redman and Julie Kirgo, an isolated score (in DTS-HD MA Mono), the film's original theatrical trailer (in 1080p), and liner notes by Ms. Kirgo (in the case). The release - limited to just 3,000 copies - is available exclusively at Screen Archives.

Follow Us