I had mentioned one movie in this blog possibly more than any other, save for Annie Hall, but never a formal post. So here it is.
The Night They Raided Minsky’s is a movie that tells about, as Rudy Vallee put it, the info seen above. It was broadly based on the book Minsky’s Burlesque by Morton Minsky (with Milt Machlin).
I saw this movie with my friend since kindergarten, Carol, and her friend Judy when I was 15 in 1968. Quickly, I developed a mad crush, unstated, for Judy, who I would never see again. The film was rated M, a precursor for PG, though with about two seconds of nudity, maybe it’d be PG-13.
Though I did not know it at the time, it was a troubled film. I did know that Bert Lahr, best known as the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz, “died before shooting was finished.” This was also the film debut of Elliott Gould, who would soon star in the movie version of MAS*H.
“The first cut was, by all accounts, dreadful.” The head of the studio reportedly said: “In all my years in film, this is the worst first cut I’ve ever seen.” Fortunately, film editor Ralph Rosenblum, who would later edit extensively for the directors Sidney Lumet and Woody Allen, including on Annie Hall, worked his magic. “His ‘save’ was detailed in his fine book When The Shooting Stop…The Cutting Begins.”
[Director William] Friedkin, who would be best known for The French Connection (1971) and The Exorcist (1973), “wasn’t around for any of the post-production, having moved on to his next film.
“The original idea from producer Norman Lear [later TV producer of All in the Family, Sanford and Son, and much more] was that he wanted this old-fashioned musical… to have a New Look. Just what that meant or what the New Look was supposed to be, nobody quite knew.” Luckily, Rosenbaum pulled it off.
I MIGHT have forgotten this film – I still have not seen it in 47 years – except for one thing. My grandfather, McKinley Green, was a janitor at what was then WNBF-TV and radio. When an album was removed from the radio station’s playlist, Pop got to bring them home and give them to his grandchildren.
When he brought home the soundtrack to The Night They Raided Minsky’s a year or two after the movie’s release, I glommed onto that LP immediately.
“The score for Minsky’s was written by Charles Strouse, who’d already written several Broadway shows, as well as the score for the film Bonnie and Clyde. The lyrics were by Lee Adams, with whom Strouse had written the Broadway shows Bye Bye Birdie; All-American; Golden Boy; It’s A Bird, It’s A Plane, It’s Superman; and others.”
To this day, I know the lyrics to the verse of “Take 10 Terrific Girls” by heart.
Take 10 Terrific Girls (But Only 9 Costumes) – Dexter Maitland.
This song showed up on the Muppets, sung by Statler & Waldorf.
Other songs include:
You Rat You – Lillian Heyman.
Perfect Gentleman – Norman Wisdom and Jason Robards.
The title song by Rudy Vallee.
But my favorite scene may be wistful What is Burlesque with Norman Wisdom and Britt Eklund.
Watch the last eight minutes of the film – in German, with that aforementioned brief nudity.
Here’s the late Roger Ebert’s review.
Writer Mark Evanier is MORE of a Minsky’s buff than I. He recently noted this piece of trivia involving a magazine. He discussed the failed Broadway-like musical from 2009. And way back in 2001, he mentioned how the movie was edited for television broadcast.