A Glamorous Cabaret in South Manhattan
The Paradise is an upscale cabaret filled with go-go dancers, located in the vibrant southern part of Manhattan. This dream factory is run by the immensely charismatic impresario, Ray Ruby, who is supported by his long-time companions and a group of colorful characters.
Turbulence in Paradise
Unfortunately, not everything is going smoothly at the Paradise. Ray and his right-hand man, the accountant Jay, are regulars and addicted to the lottery. They attempt outrageous betting strategies by filling out dozens of lottery tickets, even if it means spending their last dollar. But tonight, they have no choice. The dancers threaten to go on strike if Ray doesn’t pay them, and he also has to deal with the wrath of the owner, who is determined to evict them due to four months of unpaid rent. Ray’s last chance is to win the $12 million jackpot before the next morning.
Racing Against Time
While his butler, the Baron, keeps Lilian Murray, the owner, occupied, Ray hurries to register his final lottery tickets. He then reassures his chef, who specializes in organic mini hot dogs, that Monroe, one of the dancers, won’t leave her dog in the kitchen. After retrieving his white jacket from the dry cleaners, Ray takes the stage to introduce the dancers to the audience. The customers are forbidden from touching the dancers, but they can slip them coupon-shaped bills into their lingerie. The first person to place $1,000 worth of coupons receives a bottle of champagne. However, this erotic game fails to captivate the customers enough to stay past the 8:38 PM train that will take them back home. Even Monroe’s mesmerizing performance fails to keep them, and the Baron laments his inability to retain more than the usual two or three regular customers. There’s Johnnie, a peroxide-haired hairdresser obsessed with his little dog, and Danny Cash, who has brought doctors from abroad who saved his life while on vacation.
And then, everything goes awry. The UV lamp, jury-rigged by the hefty Luigi, is on the verge of burning one of the dancers. Johnny, who is revealed to be Ray’s brother, announces that he is cutting off his financial support. Moreover, Lilian receives a lucrative offer from a big enterprise that far exceeds the meager profits of their cabaret. When a busload of Chinese tourists stops at the Paradise, the Baron believes that the evening is saved. However, the tourists had actually booked a different attraction called “Mr. Crab,” most likely a much cheaper option. One by one, they leave the Paradise. One of the young doctors recognizes his wife among the dancers and is thrown out in a fit of rage.
The Fateful Moment
Finally, it’s time for the lottery drawing, and miraculously, Ray and Jay have won the $12 million. However, they quickly realize that they can’t find the winning ticket. Inside the club, Lilian is furious, as the few remaining customers are being expelled for a special Thursday event. It’s an artistic showcase where the dancers and privileged customers have a chance to perform in front of talent agents who could make them famous. But there are no talent agents in the audience, only family members. They witness a series of performances, each more distressing than the last: a few ballet moves by the dancer in the pink tutu, a brief monologue of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar by Danny Cash, a dog act by Johnnie, and a piano piece.
A Ray of Hope
As the evening draws to a close, Ray must confess in front of everyone that he is addicted to gambling and doesn’t know where he placed the winning ticket. All he can do is put on a brave face and bid farewell. Suddenly, he finds the winning ticket in the jacket returned from the dry cleaners, and joy fills the air.
Triumphs and Future Challenges
However, with half of the prize money being confiscated by taxes and debts to repay, Ray will have to gamble again soon in hopes of winning big once more.
The Grace of Possibility
This film continuously teeters between the ridiculous and the trivial. Yet, it finds salvation in the belief that anything is possible. Whether it’s the young girl in the pink tutu watching over Ray, the winning lottery ticket, a moment of song, a glimmer of hope, or a dance number, the film reminds us that grace is always within reach.
This article was written exclusively for Ratingperson.