Lenny (film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Original film poster
Directed byBob Fosse
Screenplay byJulian Barry
Based onLenny
by Julian Barry
Produced byMarvin Worth
StarringDustin Hoffman
Valerie Perrine
CinematographyBruce Surtees
Edited byAlan Heim
Music byRalph Burns
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
  • November 10, 1974 (1974-11-10)
Running time
111 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$11,622,000 (rentals)[2]

Lenny is a 1974 American biographical drama film about the comedian Lenny Bruce, starring Dustin Hoffman and directed by Bob Fosse. The screenplay by Julian Barry is based on his play of the same name.


The film jumps between various sections of Bruce's life, including scenes of when he was in his prime and the burned-out, strung-out performer who, in the twilight of his life, used his nightclub act to pour out his personal frustrations. We watch as up-and-coming Bruce courts his "Shiksa goddess", a stripper named Honey. With family responsibilities, Lenny is encouraged to do a "safe" act, but he cannot do it. Constantly in trouble for flouting obscenity laws, Lenny develops a near-messianic complex which fuels both his comedy genius and his talent for self-destruction. Worn out by a lifetime of tilting at establishment windmills, Lenny Bruce dies of a morphine overdose in 1966.



Lenny opened at Cinema I in New York City on November 10, 1974, and grossed a house record $14,981 in its first day.[3]


Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 89% based on 27 reviews. The critical consensus reads: "Dustin Hoffman inhabits Lenny Bruce with nervy energy in Bob Fosse's richly stylized telling of the pioneering comedian's career and downfall."[4] On Metacritic, it has a score of 61 out of 100, based on 9 critic reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[5]

One of the less enthusiastic reviews came from Roger Ebert stating "Unless we go in convinced that Lenny Bruce was an important performer, the movie doesn't convince us."[6]

In 2012, British film critic Mark Kermode put Hoffman's performance as Lenny Bruce at number eight in a top-ten video of Hoffman's best performances.[7]


Although nominated for six Academy Awards in 1975, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Cinematography, Lenny did not receive an award.

Valerie Perrine won the award for Best Actress at the 1975 Cannes Film Festival.[8]

Home media[edit]

Lenny was released to DVD by MGM Home Video on April 1, 2003, as a Region 1 widescreen DVD and by Twilight Time (under license from MGM and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment) as a Region 1 widescreen Blu-ray Disc on February 10, 2015.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Film Heritage". 1974.
  2. ^ Top 20 Films of 1974 by Domestic Revenue. Box Office Report via Internet Archive. Retrieved September 15, 2013.
  3. ^ "'Prince' Gives N.Y. Tall 215G; 'Lenny' First Day of $14,981; 'Pelham' 65G, 'Amarcord' 31G". Variety. November 13, 1974. p. 10.
  4. ^ "Lenny Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved October 3, 2021.
  5. ^ "Lenny". Metacritic. Retrieved 2020-07-01.
  6. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Lenny movie review & film summary (1974)". Chicago Sun-Times.
  7. ^ kermodeandmayo (2012-12-04). Kermode Uncut: Hoffman Top Ten. Retrieved 2017-10-25 – via YouTube.
  8. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Lenny". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-04-28.

External links[edit]