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Lenny (1974)

R  |   |  Biography, Drama  |  10 November 1974 (USA)
7.6
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 10,446 users  
Reviews: 56 user | 56 critic

The story of acerbic 1960s comic Lenny Bruce, whose groundbreaking, no-holds-barred style and social commentary was often deemed by the Establishment as too obscene for the public.

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Title: Lenny (1974)

Lenny (1974) on IMDb 7.6/10

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Nominated for 6 Oscars. Another 8 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Jan Miner ...
Stanley Beck ...
Frankie Man ...
Rashel Novikoff ...
Gary Morton ...
Guy Rennie ...
Michele Yonge ...
Kathryn Witt ...
Girl (as Kathie Witt)
Monroe Myers ...
John DiSanti ...
Mickey Gatlin ...
Martin Begley ...
Mark Harris ...
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Storyline

Interview-style biography of controversial and pioneering stand-up comedian Lenny Bruce. The film traces Bruce from his beginnings as a Catskills comic to his later underground popularity based on his anti-establishment politics and his scatological humor. Written by Scott Renshaw <as.idc@forsythe.stanford.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Lenny's Time Has Finally Come!

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

10 November 1974 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Lenny Bruce  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Gross:

SEK 1,021,233 (Sweden)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The one-take master shot scene of Lenny doing his act in a raincoat near the end of the film came from an actual tape recorded from a show he did that was sent to Dustin Hoffman by a student who saw the show. Lenny's exact words in the scene on stage are verbatim from the tape of his show. See more »

Goofs

During the movie's opening monologue, Lenny says that it's 1964 and then references the MDA Telethon, which debuted in 1966. See more »

Quotes

Lenny Bruce: "Fuck you." Never understood that insult, because fucking someone is actually really pleasant. If we're trying to be mean, we should say "unfuck you!"
See more »

Connections

Referenced in A Decade Under the Influence (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

Tempus Fugit
Music by Bud Powell
Performed by Miles Davis
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Hoffman is stunning
7 July 2005 | by (Tasmania) – See all my reviews

To be honest I don't think the rest of the film quite deserves 8 stars, but Dustin Hoffman's performance as Lenny Bruce is so extraordinary that it lifts the movie up to that rating.

Made in a fairly familiar quasi-documentary style, 'Lenny' begins with 'present day' (i.e. 1974) interviews with the surviving characters from Lenny's life, cut with flashbacks to his 1950's beginnings as a 'traditional' comic, and 'late' live performances in his post-drug-bust days. As the film progresses and the narrative catches up with the interviews, the gaps between these segments 'close'. Clever use is made of some of Lenny's material, cutting from keywords or phrases in his bits, to events in his life with inspired or correlated to them.

All the same there is something a little dry and disappointing in the film's structure: almost as if it could have used a more conventional, linear narrative, like Milos Forman's tribute to Andy Kauffman, 'Man on the Moon' would use to such great effect 25 years later.

Ironically though, such a structure might have deprived of us of seeing more of Hoffman doing Lenny's bits 'live' on stage - and for me these were the highlights, which I wish had lasted longer, rather than flashing back to some past event after 30 seconds. As a big Lenny Bruce fan, I can only say that Hoffman's portrayal is almost supernatural. It's like he's channeling the guy. He has his mannerisms and improvisational style down perfectly. You would swear you were seeing these improvisations for the first time if you hadn't heard them already. In fact, Hoffman possibly even improves on Lenny's delivery in one small respect. Lenny had a penchant for the 'conversation' that would erupt in the middle of one of his bits, between two or more characters. Hoffman probably puts a bit more distinction between the characters than Lenny often did (quite often they would all just sound like Lenny, which was part of the magic, but never mind.) Over 30 years on, it's quite amazing to me that this film has become a relative obscurity in Dustin Hoffman's filmography. Frankly, though Hoffman has blown me away on various occasions, I don't ever remember being more blown away than this. And if you were to pick easy people to imitate, I doubt Lenny Bruce on stage would be high on many people's lists.

The film as a whole is good, but to witness Hoffman channeling Bruce, it's a must-see.


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