Twilight Time Blu-ray: Lenny (1974)

Lenny (1974)

Blu-ray Company: Twilight Time

Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Valerie Perrine, Jan Miner, , Stanley Beck, Gary Mortan

Plot: This is the story of stand-up comic Lenny Bruce. Lenny Bruce was a pioneer of no holds barred comedy that was considered for the time period obscene. This film showcases his life and the overall trouble his comedy got him in. The drugged moments and also the moments of the law and being black listed. The witch hunt law and the reality of ultimate expression of freedom of speech.

My Review and Thoughts:

Film: 5/5

I can’t believe in all my years, I have never seen this. I am a huge Dustin Hoffman fan and I can’t believe, this one has passed me up. So going into this, I was excited and looking forward to it. Now there is one reality to this film, I do know about, and that’s the plot and the story. This movie is based on the life of comedian Lenny Bruce. Lenny Bruce was one of the true original, no holds bar, comedians to ever walk the face of the earth. Something that has destroyed the comedy world, this day and age, has been the political correct movement.

Comedy is supposed to be funny, edgy and step over the boundaries and Lenny Bruce was one of those comics that was raw, free-style, and that made fun of politics, religion and sex and often was considered over the top on the obscene reality. Lenny was a pioneering comic and through him and his fight, so many followed after.

This is directed by another amazing director in the cinema world, the one and only Bob Fosse. This movie is based on a stage play by the same name, which was written by Julian Barry. Now Dustin Hoffman was nominated for an Academy Award for this role of Lenny Bruce; just supplying me with one more shock, that I have not seen it before. Bob Fosse really needs no introduction, I mean dancer, director, writer, actor and so much more. He directed one of my favorite films, 1972’s Cabaret, which thankfully, won him his Oscar for director. Julian Barry’s script for the film Lenny Bruce, was nominated for an Academy Award also.

It was a style of comedy that landed Lenny in hot water. He was raw, dirty, vulgar, and in your face. He made you uncomfortable, and laugh at things, that maybe you shouldn’t have been laughing at, and that was one of the brilliance of Lenny Bruch. Now days the act of freedom of speech and the reality of being able to speak your mind and express yourself is a major factor, and Lenny would be considered a dime a dozen. Lenny basically can be looked at, as one of the grandfathers of free speech comedy. He was taken to court, and sadly, a conviction of obscenity. This was a case that is a pioneering reality, in being the idea of freedom of speech. A landmark case that can be looked back on.

He was given the title a comic that was a “sick comic”. He was one that was blacklisted and many refused to allow him on television or in comedy clubs. Lenny was not an altar boy, or a nice guy. He did many things that were not, the standard of good, and more or less was really bad in the eyes of most sane people. Now the bad side of Lenny was his ultimate drug use. This drug induced life, led Lenny into a spiral of unhealthy and also to do things against the law. Lenny, in one of his vile moments, impersonated a Priest and took up donations for a Guiana Leper charity, where he kept a lot of the money. His problems with the law in his comedy started in 1961, when the police started monitoring his comedy skits. He ended up getting arrested many times on obscenity charges for using vulgar words in his style of comedy. Also, he was arrested many times for drug possession. Overlooking the drugs and the asinine fraud moments, Lenny was a man being prosecuted, over and over again for talking. He was a man that used his vocal talent and freedom of expression through comedy. It was this talent and reality, which sadly he was picked on, destroyed, and arrested countless times. I am not saying Lenny Bruce was a nice guy, he was far from it. What I am saying is Lenny Bruce should've had the right to speak the way he wishes. Freedom of speech, even if our forefathers didn’t mean us to scream out the word “cocksucker”, that gives no baring, because, the act of freedom of speech is a law, and it is written as a law, and that no matter the changing of times, it still stands. You don’t have to like Lenny, or agree with Lenny, but Lenny had the right to express himself, just like everyone else in America should have the right. Everyone in the whole world should have the right, but unfortunate many countries still live in the dark ages of time.

Bruce was ultimately convicted of this crime of speaking. Lenny Bruce was a master, and a pioneering person that gave way to, countless other comics. He should be looked at as a person that, yes, definitely was way before his time, but it was that reality, that paved the way, so that the idea and the concept of being able to express yourself can exist. He was banned from cities and even countries, because of his idea to speak his mind. Being black listed and looked down upon and harassed ultimately in my viewpoint, led to Lenny Bruce’s deep need of drugs, and it was his need for drugs, that his health slowly started to deteriorate. Sadly, like a lot of pioneering legends, Lenny Bruce died of a drug overdose. If you ever get a chance, read Lenny Bruce’s book: How to Talk Dirty and Influence People.

Now on an interesting note, the Governor of New York, George Pataki in 2003, which was 37 years after Lenny Bruce's death, and might I add 37 years too late, Bruce was given a pardon and his conviction was thrown out.

After watching Lenny for the first time with this Twilight Time Blu-ray, I have to say, this is a new favorite film of mine and something that truly stands out as a brilliant film of direction, and brilliant acting. The direction is flawless and the performance is flawless. I absolutely fell in love with this movie and that is all the more shocking to me, that I haven’t seen it. For a film like this to bypass me is disturbing to my movie loving mind. I should be ashamed of myself for not knowing about this film. Thankfully, Twilight Time has given this awesome film a chance on Blu-ray that it deserves. I am very happy and very pleased with this amazing product. The film itself is worthy to be placed on anyone’s list of cinema excellence. The product is also one that should be placed on any movie lover’s collection.

Dustin Hoffman is an actor that has graced some of the most iconic characters and movies to ever come out of Hollywood. From my personal favorite film, which is an entry in my Top 100 Greatest American films, Midnight Cowboy, and to the classic Rain Man. Dustin is so talented and is one of those actors that becomes the part. He is not simply acting as Lenny Bruce, he is Lenny Bruce.

Hoffman’s talent makes him possess Lenny’s whole persona. Lenny’s legend and horrible witch hunt, and sad untimely death is a part of not only just memory, but of historical value in the idea of freedom of expression. Lenny is a soul that yes, had its demons, but also had its merits. Hoffman graces this character with passion, understanding, and horror. Hoffman allows this interesting and pioneering comedy to come to life on screen, and to showcase all the weirdness and brilliance of this man.

This movie also stars the beautiful and very talented, underrated actress, Valerie Perrine as Lenny’s wife Honey Bruce. I absolutely love Valerie. Might I add she was nominated for an academy award for this role of Honey Bruce? Valerie has acted since the 50’s and is always a treat in any role she does. I think I remember her most as the character, Eve Teschmacher in 1978’s Superman, and 1980’s Superman 2. She is still acting today and is someone that I feel has never been given the chance as an actress to shine ----although after seeing her in this film Lenny, she shines amazingly---- I feel she is wonderful performer and her role of Honey Bruce is a great reality of the film. Like Lenny, the real Honey Bruce was a different type of character and ultimate match for Lenny. Stripper and showgirl and criminal, and one that brought up the cause, and fought to have her ex-husband’s conviction thrown out. Now on an interesting note, the real life Honey Bruce, acted in two films, 1953’s Dance Hall Racket and 1954’s Princess of the Nile. Both Lenny and Honey where two historical figures in the reality of history, and on the ideas of comedy, freedom of speech and during a time period where speaking the mind could get you in trouble. Sadly, this day and age, most people have forgotten the people, that brought forth movements that allowed people of today, to speak their mind and to express themselves. From the idea of Lenny’s, crude, vulgar, obscene comedy, and the court cases, witch hunts, blacklisting, that he went through, led to others being able to perform the comedy they see fit. I will always respect Lenny for that reality. I won’t respect his demons. He went through a lot of personal inner struggles and the concepts of stealing money, or impersonating a priest and so on, is what I don't honor; it’s the legacy I will remember. It’s the pioneering idea of his ultimate struggle to be who he wanted to be.

Lastly I have to mention the brilliant, flawless, black and white cinematography of film by the master, Bruce Surtees. He gives such a dark atmosphere and utter dingy, emotional feel to this picture that it seems as if your there, interviewing, or you yourself are filming. There is a real life reality to this picture and it comes off as something so extraordinary that it is mind numbing to comprehend at just how brilliant, the movie is filmed. I can’t speak highly enough about this reality in this movie.

It's a film that is something to be experienced. Simply put, this movie has become a new favorite of mine. The Blu-ray by Twilight Time has aced that reality, with a stunning product to own and also experience.

Audio: 5/5

Another priceless example of how to treat a film on Blu-ray. Top notch sound. I had no issue listening. There is nothing wrong with the audio. 

English: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono
Music: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono
Subtitles: English SDH

Video: 5/5

Never seeing this before, I have nothing in my viewing to compare it to. But take it from me, this is stunningly beautiful in video quality. I saw no flaw. I thought the imagery was amazing, crisp and vibrant. This is filmed in a biography, almost documentary style, and so it gives you that impression of an interview reality. I felt the picture quality was amazing. This black and white filmed movie and new 1080p transfer, expresses the attitudes and emotional reactions, and real life expressions in the clarity of this new transfer. Simply put, it’s absolutely beautiful.

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Original aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Extras: 2.5/5

You get a wonderful commentary by film historian Julie Kirgo and Twilight Time’s Nick Redman. A great listen. I really enjoyed hearing about this film, considering that it somehow passed me up. A fantastic commentary.

Also you get the wonderful isolated music and effects track, which is always a plus.

The music of the movie is flawless also. Ralph Burns is one of those great music gods, that expresses and builds the emotional appeal of a film, and Lenny is no different. Burns had so many wonderful trades, from bandleader, to conductor, to believe it or not, bebop pianist. All one has to look at, is his career and the many films, he has under his belt. Such greats like, All that Jazz, Bananas, Cabaret, Annie. He was a true winner in music excellence and Lenny showcases that.

You get the Original Trailer

And as always the wonderful booklet written by Julie Kirgo. These little booklets that come with Twilight Time Blu-ray’s are always a treat. Julie Kirgo is very informative and you can tell the passion she expresses for cinema. Her booklets are something I look forward to every Blu-ray. They are the first think I look at when opening the Blu-ray. In this case, I didn’t because, I had not seen the movie before and so wanted to go into it not knowing really anything. After words I treated myself to the booklet and also the commentary that Julie is a part of. These booklets are always something, very important in the releases in my viewpoint.


Brilliant film. Brilliant product. A must own Blu-ray. I feel Twilight Time has done it again in bringing another wonderful film and forgotten about film to the masses of cinema lovers. I highly recommend this movie, and this Blu-ray. Twilight Time has given another prime example of how to treat a piece of important cinema.


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