For, Friday, Feb. 20, 2015

“The Night They Raided Minsky’s (1968, PG-13) is a reissued farce that has been out of print forever and is likely an unknown or forgotten title these days. But it’s been rescued by Olive Films and will be released next Tuesday (Feb. 24) with a new hi-def sheen on both DVD and Blu-ray.

Jason Robards shows off his versatility as a vaudeville straight man that performs with his comic partner (Norman Wisdom) at a racy burlesque house called Minsky’s, owned by Billy Minsky (Elliott Gould).

But the theater is in danger of being shut down thanks to the actions of a moral crusader (Denholm Elliott).

So when an innocent Amish girl (Britt Ekland) shows up hoping to be a dancer — and auditions with performances based on Bible stories — Minsky decides to use her to embarrass the crusader and waylay the police.


       Britt Ekland, 'The Night They Raided Minsky's'

Naturally, things don’t go as planned, especially when the Amish girl’s stern father (Harry Andrews) arrives to drag her home. And in the end, while she’s onstage during a melee, she inadvertently invents the striptease.

Obviously, “The Night They Raided Minsky’s” is a work of fiction, and despite a few real-life character names here and there, it’s just a very broad farce attempting to evoke an earlier, more innocent time. And despite the subject matter, the film is surprisingly tame — especially by today’s standards.

The frenetic action is a bit cartoony but it’s an interesting look at a period in show-biz history that is long gone.

The film’s biggest drawback is the miscasting of Britt Ekland as a sweet, innocent young Amish girl. She’s never very convincing.


But the rest of the cast is first rate, including Forrest Tucker, Joseph Wiseman, Jack Burns and Bert Lahr (the Cowardly Lion in “The Wizard of Oz”), who died during production.

“The Night They Raided Minsky’s” has been rated PG-13 for video but it was originally released in 1968 with an M, which was the equivalent of a PG back then.