July 30, 2010
IN 1980, THE HEAD USHER AT THE PASADENA CIVIC AUDITORIUM GIVES HIS CREW A PEP TALK: HE WANTS TONIGHTâ€™S BETTY MIDLER SHOW TO GO SMOOTHLY
Audacious, brazen, funny, and perhaps the unconscious inspiration for Madonnaâ€™s shows, Divine Madness makes an absolute spectacle of itself. Bette Midlerâ€™s raunchy, entertaining persona is on high in this concert film filmed in Pasadena.
Somewhere between â€œEverythingâ€™s Cominâ€™ Up Rosesâ€ and â€œVogue,â€ Midler seems a bridge between eras, that of burlesque, do-anything-to-please-â€™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. Itâ€™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 â€œShiver Me Timbersâ€ and â€œRainbow Sleeve,â€ which appeared in the theatrical release of this picture, are not included in this DVD. Thatâ€™s a shame because with Midler, more is more. â€“Keith Simanton