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April 26, 2010

Behind the Burly Q

Behind the Burly Q Leslie Zemeckis's fast-paced documentary about Vaudeville's scantily clad bastard child, America's burlesque industry that flourished during the '30s, '40s, and '50s, is a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the careers that made the industry happen. From club owners to historians, family members, and comedians, the film speaks clearest from the mouths of strippers like Tempest Storm, Blaze Star, and Kitty West who regale Zemeckis's camera with personal experiences during their wildly successful days and nights performing on stages all across the nation. There's no substitute for hearing first person accounts from the burlesque performers, most of whom have since passed away, about an era and culture that most people know little if anything about. Although the subject might seem to be purely about titillation, burlesque is shown to have been a financially winning and socially indispensable form of entertainment in the days before televisions came into every family's living room. A wealth of archive footage and photographs fill the screen with vital visual reinforcement to the wild and wooly anecdotes being recounted.

Not Rated. 97 mins. (B) (Three Stars - out of five/no halves)

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