Bob Fosse‘s Lenny used to be one of my favorite ’70s films, and watching this clip just now suggests that it still might be. I haven’t seen it in eons. It’s not on Bluray and the DVD goes back a long while and is hard to find. But Lenny is playing next Thursday, 3.7, at the Aero as part of a Valerie Perrine double-bill with Slaughterhouse Five. Perrine (I’m chatting with her tomorrow) will do a q & a with Larry Karaszewski.
If Dustin Hoffman is around he should fall by. I’d love to hear the stories. How many more times will Lenny screen in front of a hip audience inside a nice theatre with first-rate projection and sound?
I’m just recalling Pauline Kael’s assessment of Hoffman’s performance as Lenny Bruce, and her belief that Hofffman had labored perhaps too mightily to be loved by the audience and that the real-deal Bruce — a caustic, snappy, contentious guy who talked fast and free-associated like jazz — never seemed to care that much about affection. He wanted attention, respect. Plus he was a little snarlier than Hoffman. Hoffman “is so nonthreatening,” Kael wrote. “His putziness is just what Bruce despised…Bruce was uncompromisingly not nice.”
Hoffman basically fed his own manner and personality into Bruce’s life and some kind of hybrid emerged. Intense, angry, a likable smoothie at times, fevered, occasionally impish, frustrated, despairing. But you can’t watch Lenny, I don’t think, with any expectation of seeing a close facsimile or re-boot of the real guy.