7.7/10
37,656
115 user 66 critic

Zelig (1983)

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

Director:

Woody Allen

Writer:

Woody Allen
Reviews
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 7 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | German

Release Date:

25 August 1983 (Argentina) See more »

Also Known As:

The Cat's Pyjamas See more »

Filming Locations:

New Jersey, USA See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$60,119, 17 July 1983

Gross USA:

$11,798,616

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$11,798,616
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

To create authenticity, the production used actual lenses, cameras and sound equipment from the 1920s, and used the exact same lighting that would have been done. In addition, 'Gordon Willis' took the exposed negatives to the shower, and stomped on them. See more »

Goofs

The film begins in 1928 and some added time later into the film Zelig cohorts with Jack Dempsey at his 'training camp.' Dempsey last fight, and ergo his last training camp, was back in September 1927. See more »

Quotes

Leonard Zelig: And to the, to the gentleman who's appendix I took out, I... I'm, I don't know what to say, if it's any consolation I... I may still have it somewhere around the house.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Up Late with Alec Baldwin: Episode #1.3 (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

Anchors Aweigh
(1906)
Music by Charles A. Zimmerman
Music modified by Domenico Savino (as Domenico Sanino) (1950)
Lyrics by Alfred Hart Miles (as Alfred H. Miles)
Additional Lyrics by George D. Lottman (1950)
Performed by Dick Hyman
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Zelig is a masterpiece
3 July 2004 | by Enrique-Sanchez-56See all my reviews

Yes, a masterpiece. The entire premise of the movie is wildly original, even coming from WOODY ALLEN who continually cranks out one interesting film after another to this day.

The label of mock-umentary just doesn't do justice to the uniqueness of this film. ALLEN and his amazingly talented staff created a movie that no other director could have made nor even thought of doing. Some of the humor is rather modern like the forward references to self-gratification during the psychiatrist scenes with MIA FARROW. But mostly, it's filled with humor from another time and place which we'll never return.

To me, one of the wonderful aspects of this is the period music dispersed throughout with joyful admiration. We are lucky that ALLEN has continued to use music from the early part of the 20th century. I think no other director has so consistently had such a reverence for this wonderful music. Perhaps no other director has such a strong knowledge of it either.

That WOODY ALLEN normally portrays himself as a nebbishy character in many of his own movies works so well in this movie. A more aggressive person who becomes a chameleon would not have worked as well at all. I am glad that MIA FARROW was still associated with him when he made this film, I think no other modern actress could have pulled this off as well as she did. She has that timeless look that is appealing but has a far-off feeling.

The flavor of the period-looking cinematography and photography is part of the genius of the implementation here. It is so right on the money. The flickering of projectors, the out-of-focus look to so man scenes shot today meld amazingly well with the contrived shots.

THINK ABOUT THIS - this is years before CGI took over Hollywood...years before FORREST GUMP and countless of other knock-offs have proliferated in movies. Gee whiz, there is CGI in so many movies these days. I watched a DVD of a recent movie recently which used special effects in the most unexpected, unlikely and unnecessary parts you'd be surprised.

Yes, ZELIG is a masterpiece and I only feel sorry for those who cannot see the astounding piece of cinema this is.


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