Films, TV, and Theatre


Divine Madness! (1980)

Musical and comedy film of Bette Midler in concert at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, performing soulful ballads, raunchy rock songs, and dance and comedy sketches.

Star: Bette Midler, The Harlettes
Writers: Bruce Vilanch, Jerry Blatt, and Bette Midler
Director: Michael Ritchie

Entertainment Weekly

And now for the moment you've all been waiting for- Midler in that mermaid costume, propelling around in a wheelchair, sprouting legs ("Wait'll Jerry Lewis hears about this!"), and zipping offstage whilst belting out the last note of "My Way." The rest of the time, her tiny high-heeled feet flit like hummingbird's wings as she tells jokes and sings rock ballads. It's uneven. But it's a good "Auld Lang Syne" to the '70s. B+ Editorial Review, Keith Simanton

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.

Variety Staff

After years of honing her act in gay baths and on concert stages, Bette Midler in 1980 committed it to film in four days at the Pasadena, Calif, Civic Auditorium. 'Because this is the time capsule version of my show,' she tells the aud, 'I might as well do everything I know.' Well, she doesn't quite do everything but she does not stint on energy and showmanship.

The film has a more carefully designed and visually opulent look than most concert pix. Director Michael Ritchie and his supervising cameraman, William A. Fraker, employed a 30-man camera team to shoot more than one million feet of film.

Midler's monologs between songs, largely blue material familiar to devotees of her show, are uproariously funny and she delivers them with infectious physical panache.

As for her voice, Midler is no Streisand, but she has a solid personality to back up her songs, and her versatility is one of her strongest assets.

Yahoo, Puh-Leeze!!!:-)

Self-defined diva Bette Midler performs her take on comedy and perverse pop music in this unforgettable concert performance, filmed live at Pasadena's Civic Auditorium. Rotating between comic monologues and energetic musical numbers, DIVINE MADNESS proves why Midler has such a dedicated legion of fans. Vocal luminaries the Harlettes and Luther Vandross appear to help out Midler, which makes for a far more soulful experience. The film features 16 hit numbers, including "Leader of the Pack," "Big Noise From Winnetka," "Paradise," "Shiver Me Timbers," "Fire Down Below," "Stay With Me," "My Motherís Eyes," "Chapel of Love/Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," "Do You Want to Dance," "You Canít Always Get What You Want/I Shall Be Released," and many more. A must-have for fans of the pop diva, DIVINE MADNESS is also a perfect introduction to those unfamiliar with the entertainerís staged performances.

Sky Movies

Bette Midler is almost at full throttle in this film record of the singer's sensational, perpetual motion stage show. For those who have been to the Moon and don't know, the divine Ms M on stage is a sort of non-stop Lenny Bruce, telling the foulest possible jokes in between singing soulful, but gutsy ballads. The woman is so outrageous you wonder what she can possibly do next. Then she does it... Far from her now-cosier film image, this is the real thing.




Bette Midler gives a stunning performance before a sellout Pasadena crowd.
An exciting, high-energy musical experience.