7.8/10
35,760
113 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 7 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

At the time Woody Allen's friend Dick Cavett was hosting a series of Time-Life historical specials for HBO in which a process was used to insert Cavett into archival footage. The process so intrigued Allen it became the impetus for making this film. See more »

Goofs

At one point, the narrator mentions that there is a photo of Leonard Zelig as Pagliacci. "Pagliacci" is the Italian plural for "clowns". The correct way to say it would be " a photo of Leonard Zelig as Pagliaccio", or "a photo of Leonard Zelig as Canio (the leading male character, who plays Pagliaccio in a play-within-the-play in the opera "Pagliacci".). See more »

Quotes

House-Painting Victim: He painted my house a disgusting color. He said he was a painter. I couldn't believe the results. Then he disappeared.
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Soundtracks

Five Feet Two, Eyes of Blue
(1925)
Music by Ray Henderson
Lyrics by Sam Lewis (as Samuel M. Lewis) and Joe Young
Performed by Dick Hyman
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User Reviews

 
Woody strikes again!
21 April 2000 | by See all my reviews

Woody can be clever. Woody can be funny. And when Woody's clever AND funny, you get "Zelig".

Telling the story of Leonard Zelig (Woody Allen, who else?) who transforms himself chameleon-like into anyone just to get people to like him, he finds himself the object of on-going observation from a kind doctor (Farrow), who eventually falls for him.

But lest you think this is simply a love story, there are also pot-shots at fame, fads, the 1930s (!!), medical conventions, product cash-ins and the joys and pitfalls of celebrity.

Then there's the sheer joy of the technical wizardry that allows Woody's Zelig to stand alongside such figures as Josephine Baker, Brickhouse, William Randolph Hearst, Marion Davies, "Red" Grange, Al Capone, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Lou Gehrig and Fanny Brice. This is the same type of FX visible in "Forrest Gump", and eleven years before the fact! Nice going.

But you haven't lived till you've seen Woody trying to blend in at an Adolph Hitler speech.

There's a lot of slapstick but there's also a lot of great lines ("I have to council a group of chronic masturbators", Zelig complains, "and if I'm late they'll start without me.") Classic.

But at the center of it all is Woody himself, just like his Zelig character, wanting only to be liked, if not loved. He succeeds. Once you see "Zelig", you'll love it.

Eight stars, plus one star more for watching Woody be serenaded by Fanny Brice. He's the cat's pajamas!


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