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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The names of the six original songs heard in the film, which were about Leonard Zelig (Woody Allen), all of which had humorous titles and were all composed by Dick Hyman for the film, were "Reptile Eyes", "Chameleon Days", "Leonard the Lizard", "Doin' the Chameleon", "The Changing Man Concerto" and "You May Be Six People, But I Love You". See more »
The film begins in 1928 and, some time later, Zelig consorts with Jack Dempsey at his training camp. Dempsey's last training camp and his last fight were in September 1927. See more »
[in a hypnotic trance]
My brother beat me. My sister beat my brother. My father beat my sister and my brother and me. My mother beat my father and my sister and me and my brother. The neighbors beat our family. The people down the block beat the neighbors and our family.
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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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