Zelig (1983)

PG | 83 mins | Comedy | 1983

Director:

Woody Allen

Writer:

Woody Allen

Producer:

Robert Greenhut

Cinematographer:

Gordon Willis

Editor:

Susan E. Morse

Production Designer:

Mel Bourne

Production Companies:

Orion Pictures , Warner Bros.
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HISTORY


       Although the copyright claimant is Orion-Warner Company, the notice on the film reads: "Copyright Orion Pictures Co."
       Among the twentieth-century news figures and popular personalities seen in newsreel footage and still photographs are: Al Capone, Calvin Coolidge, Charles A. Lindbergh, Lou Gehrig, Eugene O'Neill, Jack Dempsey, Herbert Hoover, Josephine Baker, Fanny Brice, Marion Davies, William Randolph Hearst, New York Mayor Jimmy Walker, Adolphe Menjou, Claire Windsor, Dolores Del Rio, Carole Lombard, William Haines, Marie Dressler and Adolph Hitler.
       Nazi SS-Obergruppenführer Oswald Pohl (30 Jun 1892 - 7 Jun 1951), seen in one of the film's contemporary interviews, was an historic figure, but is played by actor Kuno Spunholz.

      The following title card appears in opening credits after the title of the picture: "The following documentary would like to give special thanks to Dr. Eudora Fletcher, Paul Deghuee, and Mrs. Meryl Fletcher Varney." Fletcher, Deghuee, and Varney are fictional characters in the film.

              The end credits contain “special thanks" to Ken Murray "for 'Golden Days of San Simeon' footage now appearing at the Hearst Castle in California." The end credits also contain the following statements: "The producers gratefully acknowledge and wish to thank the following for their assistance: John E. Allen; Harold Axe, M.D.; Nancy Casey; Bernard Chertok; Anthony Comanda; William [K.] Everson; Ralph Friedman; Bob Gaulin; Charles Gellert; Rick Herzog; Dan Jones; Paul Killiam; Laura Kreiss; Adele Lerner; Walter Levinsky; Joe Mallon; Louise Mastromano; Bill Murphy; Jack Muth; Robert Paquette; Robert Plagge; Harold Potter; John Rogers; Andrea Sheen; Bob Summers; Ted Troll; Robert Trondsen; Irwin Young. And also thank: Chappell Music, Inc.; Cinema Services, Inc.; Davlyn Gallery-New York; General Camera Corp.; The Harry Fox Agency; Kaufman Astoria ... More Less


       Although the copyright claimant is Orion-Warner Company, the notice on the film reads: "Copyright Orion Pictures Co."
       Among the twentieth-century news figures and popular personalities seen in newsreel footage and still photographs are: Al Capone, Calvin Coolidge, Charles A. Lindbergh, Lou Gehrig, Eugene O'Neill, Jack Dempsey, Herbert Hoover, Josephine Baker, Fanny Brice, Marion Davies, William Randolph Hearst, New York Mayor Jimmy Walker, Adolphe Menjou, Claire Windsor, Dolores Del Rio, Carole Lombard, William Haines, Marie Dressler and Adolph Hitler.
       Nazi SS-Obergruppenführer Oswald Pohl (30 Jun 1892 - 7 Jun 1951), seen in one of the film's contemporary interviews, was an historic figure, but is played by actor Kuno Spunholz.

      The following title card appears in opening credits after the title of the picture: "The following documentary would like to give special thanks to Dr. Eudora Fletcher, Paul Deghuee, and Mrs. Meryl Fletcher Varney." Fletcher, Deghuee, and Varney are fictional characters in the film.

              The end credits contain “special thanks" to Ken Murray "for 'Golden Days of San Simeon' footage now appearing at the Hearst Castle in California." The end credits also contain the following statements: "The producers gratefully acknowledge and wish to thank the following for their assistance: John E. Allen; Harold Axe, M.D.; Nancy Casey; Bernard Chertok; Anthony Comanda; William [K.] Everson; Ralph Friedman; Bob Gaulin; Charles Gellert; Rick Herzog; Dan Jones; Paul Killiam; Laura Kreiss; Adele Lerner; Walter Levinsky; Joe Mallon; Louise Mastromano; Bill Murphy; Jack Muth; Robert Paquette; Robert Plagge; Harold Potter; John Rogers; Andrea Sheen; Bob Summers; Ted Troll; Robert Trondsen; Irwin Young. And also thank: Chappell Music, Inc.; Cinema Services, Inc.; Davlyn Gallery-New York; General Camera Corp.; The Harry Fox Agency; Kaufman Astoria Studio, Astoria, New York; Killiam Shows, Inc.; Lenses and Panaflex Cameras by Panavision; Magno Sound and Video Center, Inc; Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting; National Medical Audio-Visual Center of the National Library of Medicine; New Jersey Motion Picture and Television Commission; vintage aircraft courtesy of Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome; Warner Bros. Music; Museum of Modern Art Film stills archive; New York Daily News photo archives; Religious News Service; RCA Records photo archives; Museum of the City of New York Yiddish Theatre Collection; Hicks family private photo collection; Kaplan family private photo collection; Lehman family private photo collection; Rivman family private photo collection; Sinreich family private photo collection." More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Hollywood Reporter
28 Jul 1983
p. 4.
Los Angeles Times
29 Jul 1983
p. 1, 4, 6.
New York Times
15 Jul 1983
p. 8.
Variety
13 Jul 1983
p. 15.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Featured cast:
Contemporary interviews:
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Jack Rollins and Charles H. Joffe Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
Addl 1st asst dir
2d asst dir
Addl 2d asst dir
Addl 2d asst dir
Unit mgr
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Asst cam
2d asst cam
Unit photog
Unit photog
Rear process photog
Key grip
Gaffer
Best boy
Film lab supv, Du Art Film Laboratories, Inc.
Still photog
Projectionist
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Assoc art dir
Art dept coord
FILM EDITORS
Opt and sd coord, Asst ed
Stills and duping coord, Asst ed
Stock footage coord, Asst ed
Negative cutting, J.G. Films
Negative cutting, J.G. Films
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Chief set dresser
Master scenic artist
Standby scenic artist
Prop master
Prop man
Spec props constructed by
Set grip
Const grip
Shop craftsman
COSTUMES
Cost des
Assoc cost des
Cost asst
Cost asst
Cost asst
Men's ward supv
Women's ward supv
MUSIC
Mus comp and adapt
Mus rec eng, National Recording Studios, Inc.
SOUND
Supv sd ed
Prod sd mixer
Boom man
Re-rec mixer, Trans/Audio Inc.
Re-rec mixer
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Apprentice sd ed
Apprentice sd ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Opt eff, R/Greenberg Associates
Opt eff, R/Greenberg Associates
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Make-up des
Spec make-up
Hair des
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting assoc
Extras casting
Creative coord
Stock research
Stock research
Stock research
Stock research
Stock research
Photo retoucher
Photo retoucher
Retouching strip printer
Scr supv
Prod coord
Asst prod coord
Asst to Mr. Allen
Unit pub
Transportation capt
Loc scout
Loc scout
Loc scout
Loc scout
Loc auditor
Asst loc auditor
Asst loc auditor
Studio mgr
DGA trainee
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod accountants
Stock footage courtesy of
Stock footage courtesy of
Stock footage courtesy of
Stock footage courtesy of
Stock footage courtesy of
Stock footage courtesy of
Stock footage courtesy of
Still photographs courtesy of
Still photographs courtesy of
Still photographs courtesy of
Still photographs courtesy of
Still photographs courtesy of
Still photographs courtesy of
Still photographs courtesy of
Still photographs courtesy of
Still photographs courtesy of
ANIMATION
Stills anim, Computer Opticals, Inc.
Newsreel artcards, Computer Opticals, Inc.
Newsreel artcards
SOURCES
SONGS
Original songs by Dick Hyman: "Leonard the Lizard," sung by Bernie Knee, Steve Clayton, Tony Wells
"Doin' the Chameleon," sung by Bernie Knee, Steve Clayton, Tony Wells
"Chameleon Days," sung by Mae Questel
+
SONGS
Original songs by Dick Hyman: "Leonard the Lizard," sung by Bernie Knee, Steve Clayton, Tony Wells
"Doin' the Chameleon," sung by Bernie Knee, Steve Clayton, Tony Wells
"Chameleon Days," sung by Mae Questel
"You May Be Six People, But I Love You," sung by Bernie Knee, Steve Clayton, Tony Wells
"Reptile Eyes," sung by Rosemarie Jun
"The Changing Man Concerto." Additional songs: "I've Got a Feeling I'm Falling," by Harry Link, Billy Rose, & Thomas "Fats" Waller, sung by Roz Harris
"I'm Sitting on Top of the World," by Ray Henderson, Samuel M. Lewis, & Joe Young, sung by Norman Brooks
"Ain't We Got Fun," by Raymond B. Egan, Gus Kahn, & Richard Whiting, performed by The Charleston City All Stars, courtesy of MCA Records, Inc.
"Sunny Side Up," by Lew Brown, B. G. Dasylva [sic], & Ray Henderson, performed by The Charleston City All Stars, courtesy of MCA Records, Inc.
"I'll Get By," by Fred E. Ahlert & Ray Turk, performed by The Ben Bernie Orchestra, courtesy of MCA Records, Inc.
"I Love My Baby, My Baby Loves Me," by Bud Green & Harry Warren, performed by The Charleston City All Stars, courtesy of MCA Records, Inc.
"Runnin' Wild," by A. H. Gibbs, Joe Grey & Leo Wood, performed by The Charleston City All Stars, courtesy of MCA Records, Inc.
"A Sailboat in the Moonlight," by John Loeb & Carmen Lombardo, performed by The Guy Lombardo Orchestra, courtesy of RCA Records
"Charleston," by James P. Johnson & Cecil Mack, performed by Dick Hyman
"Chicago, That Toddlin' Town," by Fred Fisher, performed by Dick Hyman
"Five Feet [sic] Two, Eyes of Blue," by Ray Henderson, Samuel M. Lewis & Joe Young, performed by Dick Hyman
"Anchors Aweigh," by George D. Lottman, Alfred H. Miles, Domenico Sanino, & Charles A. Zimmerman, performed by Dick Hyman.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
1983
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 15 July 1983
Los Angeles opening: 29 Julyy 1983
Copyright Claimant:
Orion-Warner Company
Copyright Date:
14 October 1983
Copyright Number:
PA197725
Physical Properties:
Sound
Black & white with color sequences
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex Cameras by Panavision
Duration(in mins):
83
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
27056
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Through newsreel footage, photographs and re-enactments, the life and exploits of Leonard Zelig, the “human chameleon” of the 1920s, is told in documentary fashion. Zelig is seen as an imposter playing for the New York Yankees, a gangster associate of Al Capone, a black jazz musician. In 1926, police investigate the disappearance of a clerk named Leonard Zelig. Only two clues were left behind in his apartment: a photo of Zelig with playwright Eugene O'Neill and another photo of Zelig looking like opera singer Enrico Caruso dressed as “Pagliacci.” Zelig, now seemingly an Asian man, is found in a Chinatown joss house and taken to a psychiatric hospital for questioning. By the time he arrives at the hospital, however, Zelig has turned back into a Caucasian. His hospital report reads in part: "After admittance to the hospital, he seemed to possess a veritable stockpile of different disguises which he donned mysteriously and at a moment's notice, always in an attempt to mock the person he was with. Extremely anti-social, bad manners, low self opinion." When psychiatrist Eudora Fletcher first meets Zelig, she believes him to be a doctor. She becomes fascinated with his case and begins to study his condition. The press is captivated by Zelig, known as “the Changing Man," and he becomes a national celebrity. Under hypnosis, Zelig reveals that he feels safe when he is like other people, and that he wants to be liked. He recalls that his condition first manifested when he was surrounded by a group of smart people who asked if he had read Moby Dick. Zelig was ... +


Through newsreel footage, photographs and re-enactments, the life and exploits of Leonard Zelig, the “human chameleon” of the 1920s, is told in documentary fashion. Zelig is seen as an imposter playing for the New York Yankees, a gangster associate of Al Capone, a black jazz musician. In 1926, police investigate the disappearance of a clerk named Leonard Zelig. Only two clues were left behind in his apartment: a photo of Zelig with playwright Eugene O'Neill and another photo of Zelig looking like opera singer Enrico Caruso dressed as “Pagliacci.” Zelig, now seemingly an Asian man, is found in a Chinatown joss house and taken to a psychiatric hospital for questioning. By the time he arrives at the hospital, however, Zelig has turned back into a Caucasian. His hospital report reads in part: "After admittance to the hospital, he seemed to possess a veritable stockpile of different disguises which he donned mysteriously and at a moment's notice, always in an attempt to mock the person he was with. Extremely anti-social, bad manners, low self opinion." When psychiatrist Eudora Fletcher first meets Zelig, she believes him to be a doctor. She becomes fascinated with his case and begins to study his condition. The press is captivated by Zelig, known as “the Changing Man," and he becomes a national celebrity. Under hypnosis, Zelig reveals that he feels safe when he is like other people, and that he wants to be liked. He recalls that his condition first manifested when he was surrounded by a group of smart people who asked if he had read Moby Dick. Zelig was ashamed to admit that he had not read the novel, so he pretended otherwise. Dr. Fletcher receives no support from the psychiatric community, and Zelig's half-sister takes him out of the hospital in hopes of exploiting his strange condition. People flock to see him. Zelig becomes the subject of a 1935 biographical film and several novelty songs, and hundreds of merchandise items are churned out to cash in on his popularity. However, Zelig's public popularity belies the loneliness and isolation he feels when not in the spotlight. Dr. Fletcher seeks to get legal custody of Zelig, but the courts turn her down. Later, when his half-sister is killed by her lover in a murder-suicide, Zelig goes missing again. Although the public is at first fascinated with the mystery of what happened to him, they soon take up other fads and interests. Only Dr. Fletcher keeps looking for the human chameleon. Zelig turns up posing as a Catholic priest in the entourage of Pope Pius XI and is deported back to the U.S., where he is readmitted to Manhattan Hospital. There, Dr. Fletcher steps in to treat Zelig. She takes him to her country home for therapy and engages her cousin, Paul Deghuee, to secretly film their sessions, certain that the record of her work will gain her recognition and attention. Sometime later, in remembering Fletcher’s work with Zelig, famed psychiatrist Dr. Bruno Bettelheim says that in his opinion, despite all the seeming changes in appearance and personality, Zelig was really quite normal and the ultimate conformist. When Dr. Fletcher has no breakthrough with Zelig and cannot convince him that he is not a psychiatrist himself, she tries reverse psychology and asks "Dr. Zelig" for help with her own problems, taking on Zelig's condition as her own. She tells him that she discussed the novel Moby Dick with friends, but in fact had never read the book. He finally breaks down, admits he's not a doctor, and even denies that he is Leonard Zelig. "I'm a nobody," he protests. Using hypnosis, Dr. Fletcher delves into Zelig's personality, and makes post-hypnotic suggestions to modify his behavior. When Zelig is not in a trance, she provides unconditional acceptance and love. In one filmed hypnosis session, Zelig tells Fletcher he hates her cooking and thinks her jokes are boring, but he is in love regardless and wants to go to bed with her. In retrospect, Fletcher reveals that she never thought she was attractive and had never had a real romance before she took up with Zelig. After Dr. Fletcher has spent three months with him, the hospital staff comes to see how he is progressing. He no longer takes on the personalities of those who surround him, but he has gone to the other extreme – so insistent on expressing his own opinions that he cannot abide it when others question them. After a two-week period of adjustment, Zelig is pronounced cured. He and Fletcher are again celebrities, fêted by politicians, newspaper tycoons and movie stars. When asked to give advice to the youth of America, Zelig says they should learn to be themselves. Fletcher finds fame and celebrity less rewarding than she had hoped. She and Zelig marry, and she draws strength from him. When a series of women come forward claiming to be married to Zelig, he is inundated with lawsuits for actions he took when under his various personalities. Zelig's condition deteriorates. At a Greek restaurant with Fletcher, he starts to become Greek. Soon after, Zelig again disappears. Despite a worldwide manhunt, he cannot be found. Finally, in 1932, Fletcher sees a newsreel that shows him at a Nazi party rally. She sails to Europe, but cannot find Zelig. She hears the Nazis will be having their largest rally ever in Munich, Germany, and as she searches the crowd during a speech by Adolph Hitler, she spots Zelig sitting on the podium behind the Nazi chancellor. He recognizes her in the crowd and they wave to each other. The two interrupt Hitler's speech, and in the resulting confusion, manage to escape from the Nazi SS officers pursuing them. An amateur pilot, Fletcher manages to take off in a stolen plane with Zelig, but she becomes terrified and loses control of the aircraft. Zelig takes on the personality of a pilot and flies the plane, eluding the German air force, and managing to set a world record for flying nonstop to the U.S. while upside down. He is received as a hero when they arrive in New York. After managing to sort out his legal troubles, he remarries Fletcher. Zelig's episodes of personality morphing become fewer and fewer, and on his deathbed he only regrets that he has just begun to read Moby Dick. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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