Dance Hall Racket (February 20, 1953)

Lenny Bruce in Dance Hall Racket
 

Released on February 20, 1953: (running time 57 minutes) Lenny Bruce is the murdering henchman for a racketeer dance hall owner.

Directed by Phil Tucker

The Actors: Timothy Farrell (Umberto Scalli), Lenny Bruce (Vincent), Bernie Jones (Punchy, Swedish Sailor), Honey Bruce Friedman (Rose - Lenny Bruce's real life wife), Sally Marr (Maxine, Lenny Bruce's real life mother), Bunny Parker (dance hall girl), Joie Abrams (dance hall girl), Ronald Lee (unknown), Bill King (unknown), Mary Holiday (dance hall girl), Frankie Mann (dance hall girl), Harry Keaton (Victor Pappas), Joe Piro (henchman)

 

The Law of Contact

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Eleven years in Stir, A Homecoming Gift in Fur

This is a bad movie . . . the acting is atrocious, the dialogue is dumb, and the plot is shallow. Are there any good reasons to watch this movie then? You bet your sweet bippy! Every movie is a grand stew - a blend of different people, ideas and motivations, putting themselves on film for all to watch and evaluate.

On top of that, we get a fascinating and personal look at one of the most famous, or should I say infamous stand-up comics of the 1960’s, who had a terribly tragic life, and died of an overdose of drugs in 1966. The cable television network Comedy Central lists him as the number three greatest stand-up comedian of all time.

Leonard Alfred Schneider (Lenny Bruce) was born to Myron Schneider, a shoe clerk in New York City. His mother Sadie was a burlesque dance hall stripper using the name Sally Marr. Lenny Bruce spent much of his young life in burlesque dance halls with his mother, and he would learn comedy from the Vaudeville comedians, and would marry a strip club dancer known as ‘Hot Honey Harlowe.’ In Lenny Bruce’s 1960’s comedy routine he would introduce his wife as ”the beautiful mama with the long red hair.”

In the 1950’s before becoming famous as a stand-up comedian, he wrote several quick exploitation screenplays for the grind-house movie theaters, and in this movie, he not only wrote the screenplay, but he appeared in the movie as the murdering henchman of the gangster dance club owner. His red-haired wife Honey is his girlfriend and hostess at the club. Lenny’s mother plays the part of Maxine, a burlesque dancer that is too old to tease the boys, but still hangs around as a ‘house mom’ of sorts to the younger girls. ¬†Unfortunately for us, the rookie director didn't include many close-up shots of Lenny or anyone else, so he remains a bit of a mysterious and intriguing character.

Lenny Bruce became famous in the early 1960’s for using very raw language filled with swear words in his comedy routines. After being arrested in 1964 in New York during his comedy routine for using more than one hundred swear words in his nightclub comedy act, he spent several months in prison. When the prosecuting attorney at his trial read some quotes from his act into the court record, Lenny pleaded with the judges to allow him to perform some of the act for the court so that they could understand the comedy context of the words, but the three-judge panel refused, and Lenny was convicted and sentenced to prison.

Following this his career was effectively finished, because if he was booked into any club in the country the local police would threaten to arrest the club owner if Lenny was allowed to perform. Two years later in August of 1966, while waiting for a court appeal, Lenny Bruce was found dead of a morphine overdose in his home.

This movie remains one of the only places you can meet, see and hear this American comedian a few years before he became so infamous that he lost not only his career, but his life. Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with plenty of warm melted butter drizzled over it and enjoy the show.

actor playing the bartender
actor playing the bartender
actor playing the undercover customs officer
actor playing the undercover customs officer
Bernie Jones
Bernie Jones
Bernie Jones and the undercover officer
Bernie Jones and the undercover officer
Bunny Parker
Bunny Parker
Harry Keaton
Harry Keaton
Harry Keaton, Honey Bruce Friedman
Harry Keaton, Honey Bruce Friedman
Honey Bruce Friedman
Honey Bruce Friedman
Honey Bruce Friedman
Honey Bruce Friedman
Lenny Bruce
Lenny Bruce
the new dancer and Sally Marr
the new dancer and Sally Marr
Sally Marr
Sally Marr
Sally Marr dances the Charleston
Sally Marr dances the Charleston
Timothy Farrell
Timothy Farrell
Timothy Farrell
Timothy Farrell