7.8/10
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114 user 63 critic

Zelig (1983)

"Documentary" about a man who can look and act like whoever he's around, and meets various famous people.

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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 6 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Leonard Zelig
... Dr. Eudora Nesbitt Fletcher
Patrick Horgan ... The Narrator (voice)
John Buckwalter ... Dr. Sindell
Marvin Chatinover ... Glandular Diagnosis Doctor
Stanley Swerdlow ... Mexican Food Doctor
Paul Nevens ... Dr. Birsky
Howard Erskine ... Hypodermic Doctor
George Hamlin ... Experimental Drugs Doctor
Ralph Bell ... Other Doctor
Richard Whiting ... Other Doctor
Will Hussung ... Other Doctor (as Will Hussong)
Robert Iglesia ... Man in Barber Chair
Eli Resnick ... Man in Park
Edward McPhillips ... Scotsman
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Storyline

Fictional documentary about the life of human chameleon Leonard Zelig, a man who becomes a celebrity in the 1920s due to his ability to look and act like whoever is around him. Clever editing places Zelig in real newsreel footage of Woodrow Wilson, Babe Ruth, and others. Written by Scott Renshaw <as.idc@forsythe.stanford.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

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Details

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Release Date:

25 August 1983 (Argentina)  »

Also Known As:

Identity Crisis and Its Relationship to Personality Disorder  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$60,119, 17 July 1983, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$11,798,616
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The movie's modern day interviewing sequences in color were considered to be a parody of Warren Beatty's Reds (1981) which were similar in format and style. See more »

Goofs

Mia Farrow continues to wear her [extremely well executed] 1920 fashions well into the mid-1930s, by which time women's styles had changed dramatically in the real world. See more »

Quotes

[Zelig thinks he's a psychiatrist.]
Leonard Zelig: I worked with Freud in Vienna. We broke over the concept of penis envy. Freud felt that it should be limited to women.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Ebert Presents: At the Movies: Episode #2.11 (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

A Sailboat in the Moonlight
(1937)
Written by Carmen Lombardo and John Jacob Loeb (as John Loeb)
Performed by The Guy Lombardo Orchestra
Courtesy of RCA Records
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Zealous about "Zelig"
1 October 1999 | by See all my reviews

Leapin' lizards! This film is brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.

"Zelig" was a revelation in 1983, an utterly ingenious faux-documentary, without any precedent, at least not on this scale. Hilarious then, it still is today. That quick glimpse you get of the all-Hasidic production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" is priceless. It gives renewed meaning to "Lord, what fools these mortals be!"

Allen's technique is extraordinary. "Zelig" has the best bogus documentary footage quite probably since "Citizen Kane".

As the film urges, everyone should "Do the Chameleon", by seeing "Zelig". Woody Allen creates a trenchant comment on people's desire for conformity: "Everybody, go chameleon." We all tend to do that to some degree, but it's not usually so amusing. Try to blend in with the crowd rushing out to find "Zelig" on video.

It is probably worth noting that a Jewish Nazi is not as ridiculous a stretch as Woody makes it seem. Reinhard Heydrich, the vicious organizer of the Final Solution, fell into that category. The top Nazis were all misfits in one way or another.


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