Made between the musical high notes of Cabaret and All That Jazz, six-time Oscar-nominated Lenny is an altogether different effort from director Bob Fosse.
Adapted by Julian Barry from his own stage play, it examines the life and crimes of hipster comic Lenny Bruce, whose blend of social commentary, scatological humour and four-letter curses landed him with frequent obscenity raps. His heroin habit didn't help, either.
Told in flashbacks triggered by interviews with Bruce's wife, mother and agent following his death in 1966, Fosse's movie is psychologically slight but dramatically compelling. Performances are outstanding, especially Dustin Hoffman's wired motormouth Lenny and Valerie Perrine's stripper spouse, and the monochrome photography captures every last tendril of smoke, every bead of sweat. Deserves rediscovering.