Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, March 8, 2018


Lenny Bruce
DANCE HALL RACKET (1953). Director: Phil Tucker. Screenplay by Lenny Bruce.

An undercover cop hangs out at a certain dance emporium whose owner he suspects of trafficking in shady deals and murder. The owner is Umberto Scalli (Timothy Farrell of Jail Bait) and his rather psychopathic right hand man is Vincent (Lenny Bruce), who stabs people right and left without hesitation. Scalli's secretary, Rose (Honey Bruce Friedman), is Vincent's chief girlfriend (Friedman was married to Lenny Bruce at the time). The two men are marking time until the arrival of fresh-out-of-the pen Victor Pappas, from whom they hope to learn the whereabouts of his stolen loot. This ultra low-budget, oddball movie, barely clocking in at an hour, was scripted by the controversial comic, and his performance as a sleazy if good-looking hood is personality-driven and competent. Farrell is a professional but uninteresting performer, and the rest of the cast veers from the broadly amateurish to the perfectly capable. The names of many of the cast members have been lost to history, but "Maxine" is noteworthy as Scalli's middle-aged former girlfriend, and she does a mean Charleston, too. The main plot, such as it is, is interrupted by supposedly comic intervals, and there's a terrible Swedish funny man (not!) portrayed by an annoying Bernie Jones. Phil Tucker also directed Robot Monster and Lenny Bruce also scripted Rocket Man.

Verdict: Now this is definitely a curiosity if nothing else. **.

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