Canadian docu “The Anatomy of Burlesque” is a silly assemblage that defines “burlesque” so loosely no particular focus or thesis emerges. Rendered somewhat watchable by colorful body of vintage movie and performance clips used (albeit seldom identified), pic is nonetheless of dubious value, given haphazard structure and the self-indulgence with which helmer Lindalee Tracey insists upon keeping herself onscreen. Stray fests dates aside, prospects look limited to home-turf tube play.
Variously pegging burlesque as shame-based anatomical humor, social-order mockery, “subversive eroticism,” et al., docu cobbles together a specious chronology whose dots just superficially connect. Major pit stops are: Geoffrey Chaucer (called “The Beatles of his time!”), “The Beggar’s Opera,” the can-can, British music-hall traditions, Oscar Wilde’s “Salome,” Mata Hari, early exotic dancers, drag performance, Mae West, the follies Bergeres and Ziegfield, Josephine Baker, Charlie Chaplin, at last the U.S. burlesque (as opposed to vaudeville) circuit, a visit to ex-stripper Dixie Evans’ Exotic World Museum (much seen in prior docus) and contempo NYC street buskers. Dominating this wayward lineage is Tracey herself, mugging lamely in different costumes and locales. Cartoon sound f/x further accents the “jokes.” Tech aspects are OK.