BootLeg Betty

BetteBack: Divine Madness

MyDVD.NET
Divine Madness
July 30, 2010

IN 1980, THE HEAD USHER AT THE PASADENA CIVIC AUDITORIUM GIVES HIS CREW A PEP TALK: HE WANTS TONIGHT’S BETTY MIDLER SHOW TO GO SMOOTHLY

Audacious, brazen, funny, and perhaps the unconscious inspiration for Madonna’s shows, Divine Madness makes an absolute spectacle of itself. Bette Midler’s raunchy, entertaining persona is on high in this concert film filmed in Pasadena.

Midler tells dirty jokes, berates herself and the audience, and most of all belts out (some may say shrieks out) covers of Bruce Springsteen and rock and swing classics.

Somewhere between “Everything’s Comin’ Up Roses” and “Vogue,” Midler seems a bridge between eras, that of burlesque, do-anything-to-please-’em showmanship and shocking, pyrotechnic exhibitionism and aloofness. (A hint at just how old this 1980 movie feels, Midler unabashedly makes a reference to Georgie Jessel!)

Directed by Michael Ritchie, whose Smile and The Bad New Bears were interesting takes on America, Divine is also a slice of the American experience. It’s dirty enough to be fun and clean enough to stay just this side of bawdy. That used to be a fine American tradition.

Note: The songs “Shiver Me Timbers” and “Rainbow Sleeve,” which appeared in the theatrical release of this picture, are not included in this DVD. That’s a shame because with Midler, more is more. –Keith Simanton

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