7.8/10
35,567
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.

Director:

Writer:

Reviews

On Disc

at Amazon

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

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

In his attempts to reconcile a lounge singer with his mistress, a hapless talent agent is mistaken as her lover by a jealous gangster.

Director: Woody Allen
Stars: Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, Nick Apollo Forte
Comedy | Fantasy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

In New Jersey in 1935, a movie character walks off the screen and into the real world.

Director: Woody Allen
Stars: Mia Farrow, Jeff Daniels, Danny Aiello
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

While attending a retrospective of his work, a filmmaker recalls his life and his loves: the inspirations for his films.

Director: Woody Allen
Stars: Woody Allen, Charlotte Rampling, Jessica Harper
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A wacky inventor and his wife invite two other couples for a weekend party at a romantic summer house in the 1900s countryside.

Director: Woody Allen
Stars: Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, José Ferrer
Radio Days (1987)
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A nostalgic look at radio's golden age focusing on one ordinary family and the various performers in the medium.

Director: Woody Allen
Stars: Mia Farrow, Dianne Wiest, Mike Starr
Comedy | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

In czarist Russia, a neurotic soldier and his distant cousin formulate a plot to assassinate Napoleon.

Director: Woody Allen
Stars: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Georges Adet
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

An ophthalmologist's mistress threatens to reveal their affair to his wife while a married documentary filmmaker is infatuated with another woman.

Director: Woody Allen
Stars: Martin Landau, Woody Allen, Bill Bernstein
Interiors (1978)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Three sisters find their lives spinning out of control in the wake of their parents' sudden, unexpected divorce.

Director: Woody Allen
Stars: Diane Keaton, Geraldine Page, Kristin Griffith
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Between two Thanksgivings two years apart, Hannah's husband falls in love with her sister Lee, while her hypochondriac ex-husband rekindles his relationship with her sister Holly.

Director: Woody Allen
Stars: Mia Farrow, Dianne Wiest, Michael Caine
Sleeper (1973)
Comedy | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A nerdish store owner is revived out of cryostasis into a future world to fight an oppressive government.

Director: Woody Allen
Stars: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, John Beck
Bananas (1971)
Certificate: GP Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

When a bumbling New Yorker is dumped by his activist girlfriend, he travels to a tiny Latin American nation and becomes involved in its latest rebellion.

Director: Woody Allen
Stars: Woody Allen, Louise Lasser, Carlos Montalbán
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

When their best friends announce that they're separating, a professor and his wife discover the faults in their own marriage.

Director: Woody Allen
Stars: Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, Sydney Pollack
Edit

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
Edit

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:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

25 August 1983 (Argentina)  »

Also Known As:

Identity Crisis and Its Relationship to Personality Disorder  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Edit

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  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Leonard Zelig (Woody Allen) has a psychiatrist, Dr. Eudora Nesbitt Fletcher (Mia Farrow), in this film. Allen in real life was known to have been in therapy for several years. 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

Leonard Zelig: I'm 12 years old. I run into a Synagogue. I ask the Rabbi the meaning of life. He tells me the meaning of life... But, he tells it to me in Hebrew. I don't understand Hebrew. Then he wants to charge me six hundred dollars for Hebrew lessons.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Scene by Scene: Woody Allen (2000) See more »

Soundtracks

I Love My Baby, My Baby Loves Me
(1925)
Music by Harry Warren
Lyrics by Bud Green
Performed by The Charleston City All Stars
Courtesy of MCA Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
A Delightful Story In An Engaging Format
27 March 2005 | by See all my reviews

Was this the first "mockumentary"? I checked out IMDb and it predates Guest, Reiner and co.'s This Is Spinal Tap by a year. Not only was it a fake documentary, it sustained the format throughout, never once breaking into an enacted scene. Allen told his story, set in his favorite time period, The Roaring 20's, using special lenses to create the old style newsreels. Using photo stills, mixing real footage with his, and providing exposition via modern-day "historians" and aged characters, he gave this innovative film such an authenticity that if one didn't know any better, you would swear there had been an actual Leonard Zelig.

Allen plays Leonard, a man so devoid of identity, so eager to assimilate, that he literally takes on the appearance or, at least, the attributes of anyone he comes in contact with. Mia Farrow plays his psychiatrist, Dr. Eudora Fletcher, and taken in smaller doses, she actually is perfect in this role. There are a few moments when you get to see an extended dialogue between the two, most notably when her brother is filming "The White Room" sessions at her country estate. This is the only time that Allen's shtick gets to flex, as he cracks jokes about teaching a Masturbation class. Advanced. I also loved Zelig groaning about Eudora's terrible cooking under hypnosis. Eventually, Dr. Fletcher is able to cure him, and with his newfound personality, he and Eudora fall in love.

Allen also introduces the idea of Zelig's story being filmed as a movie, so he inter cuts some of the news sources with scenes from the film (very funny). The one thing that really stood out for me, though, was this revelation towards the end of the film. Woody as Leonard Zelig was smiling. A lot. It was kind of weird to see, but his happiness actually imbued the film with positive emotion and charmed the pants off me (not literally, of course) to such a degree that I will undoubtedly be repeating my viewing pleasure many more times.

I'll be honest. There were moments early on that I perhaps wondered if he was going to be able to sustain my interest. I thought he might be playing this conceit a little too long. What had, in the first 20 minutes, been enchanting and amusing seemed to dwindle in the middle of the film. Would he really succeed at telling an engaging story in this method? Well, I stuck with it and I'm glad I did. He layers so many meanings into his character's transformations, and all of his historians offer different interpretations. The importance of being yourself. How Zelig's journey was America's journey during the tumultuous and wild 20's. He also has a great running gag about Moby Dick that lampoons the Great American Novel.

Will Allen ever be this innovative and original again? Well, it appears he's making an attempt with his newest film, Melinda and Melinda, in which he tells the same story twice, with one tone being humorous, while the other is tragic. If nothing else, he at least continues to strive for an authentic voice in this littered landscape of movie franchises and ridiculously insulting comedies. Go Woody.


52 of 60 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 114 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page