“We know you are a real sophisticated audience — and what you are about to see is a real mature story.”
A naive young Amish woman (Britt Ekland) with dreams of becoming a dancer arrives at Minsky’s Burlesque Theatre in New York City, and quickly wins the hearts of comedic partners Norman Wisdom and Jason Robards. Meanwhile, Robards and the club’s owner (Elliott Gould) concoct a sure-fire plan to foil a group of do-gooders intending to raid the club that night.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Aspiring Stars
- Britt Ekland Films
- Elliott Gould Films
- Harry Andrews Films
- Jason Robards Films
- Love Triangle
- Morality Police
- Vaudeville and Burlesque
- William Friedkin Films
This bawdy historical comedy — directed by William Friedkin — purports to tell the story of the first ever (unintentional) striptease, but is really more concerned with simply honoring and celebrating the infectious joys of burlesque theater. Through ample exposure to ribald skits and songs on stage, one gets a sense of what audience members (primarily men, though women were present as well) were there to enjoy. Friedkin moves the story along at a brisk pace (in nearly real time), neatly juxtaposing the night’s early acts with the converging tales of an innocent Amish girl (Ekland is well-cast) who wants nothing more than to break into show business, and an upcoming raid on the club by local do-gooders. Along the way, Ekland becomes fodder for the romantic interests of both womanizing Jason Robards and his more sincere partner, Norman Wisdom; while we feel concern for her extreme naivete, she shows surprising reserves of chutzpah, and makes for an appealing heroine.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Norman Wisdom as Chick Williams
- Jason Robards as Raymond Paine
- Britt Ekland as Rachel Schpitendavel
- Harry Andrews as Ekland’s stern Amish father
- An exuberant paean to the bygone days of vaudeville burlesque
- Many enjoyable skits and songs
- An effective depiction of audience reaction to even the mildest of sexual suggestion
No, but it’s recommended.