Dustin Hoffman all but merges with the great controversial comedian Lenny Bruce in this vibrant docudrama. Stunningly shot in X-ray black and white by Bruce Surtees, Lenny shuttles back and forth through Bruce’s life onstage and off, from his daring stand-up act to his life with stripper Honey Harlowe (Valerie Perrine, who gives an altogether stunning performances). Julian Barry’s script, loosely based on his play, tracks Lenny and Honey’s descent into drug addiction and a particular brand of punishing hedonism that was a Fosse specialty. Fosse captures the grit, the sweat, and the assortment of tortures, private and public, self-inflicted and societal imposed, that did Bruce in at the age of 40. With terrific work by Jan Miner as Bruce’s mother and Gary Morton (otherwise known as Mr. Lucille Ball). Nominated for Oscars in six categories, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Actress, and Best Cinematography.
Image courtesy of the Kobal Collection.