Lenny (film)

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Original movie poster
Directed by Bob Fosse
Produced by Marvin Worth
Written by Julian Barry
Starring Dustin Hoffman
Valerie Perrine
Music by Ralph Burns
Cinematography Bruce Surtees
Edited by Alan Heim
Distributed by United Artists (1974, original) MGM (2003, DVD)
Twilight Time (under license from MGM) (2015, Blu-Ray DVD)
Release date
  • November 10, 1974 (1974-11-10)
Running time
111 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $11,622,000 (rentals)[1]

Lenny is a 1974 American biographical 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.



One of the more interesting casting decisions was made while filming in the Broward County Courthouse; used as the set for the Miami Courthouse. Director Fosse decided to cast a real life Broward County Bailiff in the role of the Dade County Bailiff that would drag Dustin Hoffman (Lenny) out of the Courtroom. Aldo DeMeo, the President of the Bailiff's Association at the time, was offered the role. Though Aldo was uncredited, the scene when Lenny is removed from the courtroom was chosen as the clip screened at the Academy Awards to represent the film as a candidate for Best Picture.[2] [3] Casting was completed by Florida-based casting director, Beverly McDermott.[4]

Real Life Bailiff and 'one time actor' Aldo DeMeo and Dustin Hoffman between takes from the scene when 'Lenny' is dragged from the courtroom
The real Lenny Bruce arrested in 1961

Awards and honors[edit]

Lenny was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Cinematography.

Valerie Perrine won the award for Best Actress at the 1975 Cannes Film Festival.[5]


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.[6]

Lenny has received a rare "100% Fresh" score on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes based on 16 reviews.[7]


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) as a Region 1 widescreen Blu-ray Disc on February 10, 2015.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Top 20 Films of 1974 by Domestic Revenue. Box Office Report via Internet Archive. Retrieved September 15, 2013.
  2. ^ "Aldo DeMeo". 
  3. ^ "Robert Demeo Bio". 
  4. ^ "Beverly McDermott dies at 83". Sun Sentinel. 23 January 2012. Archived from the original on 22 September 2012. Retrieved 22 September 2012. 
  5. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Lenny". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-04-28. 
  6. ^ Kermode Uncut: Hoffman Top Ten
  7. ^ "Lenny Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved October 28, 2010. 

External links[edit]