Part of Weekend Classics: All That Fosse®.
Bob Fosse®’s third feature hones in on controversial comedian Lenny Bruce (Dustin Hoffman), who begins his career telling bad jokes to bored audiences in the 1950s but can't repress his desire to unleash edgier material. When he does, he sets out on a one-man campaign to break down social hypocrisy, and his groundbreaking stage act propels him to cult-hero status. When authorities ban Lenny's act for obscenity, his life becomes a downward spiral of drugs, sex and debt, aided by his bombshell wife—a stripper named Honey (Valerie Perrine). While Fosse’s films were nothing if not reflections of their times, LENNY provides that context and then some. One scene meant to de-claw the power of “the n-word” may not have aged quite as well as the rest. Seen in context to today’s popular Amazon series “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” LENNY succeeds in evoking the entertainer who lived and performed somewhere just along the edge.