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The Night They Raided Minsky's Reviews

The rise of burlesque theater is chronicled in this lively, bawdy, and charmingly tasteless comedy produced and cowritten by Norman Lear and directed by William Friedkin. The main thrust of the plot involves Amish-raised Ekland, who rejects her upbringing and travels to the New York City of the 1920s, seeking to convert lost souls as a religious-scene dancer. Soon she finds herself embroiled in the wild world of Robards, Jr., who is the main attraction of the National Winter Garden theater leased from his father (Wiseman) by Minsky (Gould). Robards, Jr., circulates the rumor that the new girl in town, Ekland, will soon be performing a famed risque dance number at a special midnight show, when in reality she intends to do a very innocent Bible dance. (He wants to embarrass a conservative vice-fighting society when they send the cops in to raid the joint.) That night, Ekland's father appears to reclaim his daughter, a gangster wants to make her his moll, and a fight ensues between Robards, Jr., and his partner, Wisdom, over her affections. When Ekland gets onstage before a packed house to do her dance, her father tries to stop her and accidentally rips her dress. The enthusiastic response of the crowd eggs Ekland on, and she proceeds to strip off her clothes in a dance of wild abandon. Down to the bare essentials, she reaches out to the disapproving Robards, Jr., and the top of her dress falls off, which is greeted by a surprised roar of approval from the crowd, as the cops burst in. The patrons scramble for the exits, and a new American art form, the striptease, is born. This fun film is filled with loads of laughs, atmosphere, and nostalgia. The period flavor of the picture is superb. Producer Lear was able to talk the New York City authorities into delaying demolition of a whole block of condemned buildings on the East Side until the location shots had been completed. Songs include "The Night They Raided Minsky's" (sung by Vallee), "Take Ten Terrific Girls But Only Nine Costumes" (sung by Vallee and Maitland), "How I Love Her," "Perfect Gentleman" (sung by Robards, Jr., and Wisdom), "You Rat, You" (sung by Hayman), "Penny Arcade," and "Wait for Me."