Lenny Bruce was one of the precursors of social upheaval, and like most pioneers, he got clobbered for his foresight. Bob Fosse’s remarkable film version of Julian Barry’s legit play, Lenny, stars Dustin Hoffman in an outstanding performance.
Production was photographed in black and white, lending not only a slight period influence but also capturing the grit and the sweat, as well as the private and public tortures of its principal character.
Barry’s excellent script takes the form of flashback, but with some partial flashforward scenes. Three key figures in Bruce’s life – wife Valerie Perrine in a sensational performance, hardcharger mother Jan Miner in a beautiful characterization, and Stanley Beck in top form as Bruce’s agent – are being tape-interviewed after his death by an unseen party, whose motives are never clear.
1974: Nominations: Best Picture, Director, Actor (Dustin Hoffman), Actress (Valerie Perrine), Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography