7.8/10
36,409
113 user 64 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
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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:
Woody Allen ... Leonard Zelig
Mia Farrow ... Dr. Eudora Nesbitt Fletcher
Patrick Horgan Patrick Horgan ... The Narrator (voice)
John Buckwalter John Buckwalter ... Dr. Sindell
Marvin Chatinover 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:

Identity Crisis and Its Relationship to Personality Disorder See more »

Filming Locations:

New Jersey, USA See more »

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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

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

Actress Ellen Garrison played the older Dr Dr. Eudora Fletcher (Mia Farrow), and not Farrow's real-life mother, Maureen O'Sullivan, who actually did appear in a Woody Allen's film, Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), made and released about three years later in 1986. See more »

Goofs

The speaking person in his 60s in one of the modern interviews in the film is subtitled as "Former SS-Obergruppenführer Oswald Pohl". If the interviews were conducted in the early 1980s, the person is evidently too young; the real Pohl was born in June 1892, so he would have been in his late 80s/early 90s at the time - of course if he had not been hanged for war crimes in 1951. 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 Jeopardy!: Episode #26.181 (2010) See more »

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
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Woody strikes again!
21 April 2000 | by Mister-6See 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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