Lenny (film)

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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 90% based on 29 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]


Award Category Nominee(s) Result
Academy Awards[8] Best Picture Marvin Worth Nominated
Best Director Bob Fosse Nominated
Best Actor Dustin Hoffman Nominated
Best Actress Valerie Perrine Nominated
Best Screenplay – Adapted from Other Material Julian Barry Nominated
Best Cinematography Bruce Surtees Nominated
Blue Ribbon Awards Best Foreign Language Film Bob Fosse Won
British Academy Film Awards[9] Best Actor in a Leading Role Dustin Hoffman Nominated
Best Actress in a Leading Role Valerie Perrine Nominated
Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles Won
Cannes Film Festival[10] Palme D'Or Bob Fosse Nominated
Best Actress Valerie Perrine Won
Directors Guild of America Awards[11] Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures Bob Fosse Nominated
Golden Globe Awards[12] Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama Dustin Hoffman Nominated
Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama Valerie Perrine Nominated
Best Director – Motion Picture Bob Fosse Nominated
National Board of Review Awards[13] Top Ten Films 8th Place
Best Supporting Actress Valerie Perrine Won
New York Film Critics Circle Awards[14] Best Actor Dustin Hoffman Nominated
Best Actress Valerie Perrine Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Won
Sant Jordi Awards Best Foreign Film Bob Fosse Won
Writers Guild of America Awards[15] Best Drama Adapted from Another Medium Julian Barry Nominated

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 March 20, 2023.
  5. ^ "Lenny". Metacritic. Retrieved 2020-07-01.
  6. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Lenny movie review & film summary (1974)". Chicago Sun-Times.
  7. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: kermodeandmayo (2012-12-04). Kermode Uncut: Hoffman Top Ten. Retrieved 2017-10-25 – via YouTube.
  8. ^ "The 47th Academy Awards (1975) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Archived from the original on September 1, 2019. Retrieved October 2, 2011.
  9. ^ "BAFTA Awards: Film in 1976". BAFTA. 1975. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
  10. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Lenny". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-04-28.
  11. ^ "27th DGA Awards". Directors Guild of America Awards. Retrieved July 5, 2021.
  12. ^ "Lenny – Golden Globes". HFPA. Retrieved July 5, 2021.
  13. ^ "1974 Award Winners". National Board of Review. Retrieved July 5, 2021.
  14. ^ "1974 New York Film Critics Circle Awards". New York Film Critics Circle. Retrieved June 3, 2021.
  15. ^ "Awards Winners". wga.org. Writers Guild of America. Archived from the original on 2012-12-05. Retrieved 2010-06-06.

External links[edit]