Behind the Burly Q (2010)

by | Apr 4, 2011 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Behind the Burly Q (2010)

Director: Leslie Zemeckis
On screen: Alan Alda, Tempest Storm, Kitty West, Dixie Evans
Studio: First Run Features [4/15/11]
Video: 16:9 color & B&W
Audio: PCM mono
Subtitles: Closed captions, English
Extras: Featurettes: The Reunion, Memorbilia & Costumes, Behind the Scenes; Bonus interviews; Burlesque Timeline; Photo gallery, Original theatrical trailer
Length: 98 minutes
Rating: ****1/2

This is the definite visual history of Burlesque in America, including footage of and interviews with the performers themselves. For a first-time effort from the new filmmaker it’s an engaging portrait of America’s most popular form of live entertainment during the first half of the 20th century. Burlesque was for years vilified and left out of America’s cultural history.  The interviews with the various performers are fascinating.  Alan Alda is here because his father was a straight man in burlesque and he has some great stories.

One of the strippers is Tempest Storm, who still performs today and claims to have had relationships with Elvis and JFK.  The stories of how some of them got into burlesque in the first place are amazing to hear.  What went on behind the gaudy and bawdy stage shows is revealed by the interviewees.  Lots of historic photos and advertising posters round put out the story. Lou Costello gets major time for his beginnings in burlesque. One of the aged strippers claims that it was the comics that customers came for, not the girls.  Yet Alan Alda is the skeptic, saying that’s not what produced male audiences in the front rows for the shows that went on at noon.

The vintage footage is a treat to see. Sadness permeates the conclusion of the documentary as stills of some of the ladies interviewed earlier are shown with the date of their recent deaths superimposed over.

 – John Sunier

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