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.



Lenny received favorable praise from critics and audiences alike, earning a rare "100% Fresh" score on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes based on 16 reviews.[2]

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.[3]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Recipient(s) and nominee(s) Result
National Board of Review Top Ten Films Won
1978 Los Angeles Film Critics Association Best Screenplay Larry Gelbart, Sheldon Keller 3rd place
Best Music Ralph Burns 3rd place
New York Film Critics Circle Best Supporting Actor Barry Bostwick 3rd place
Best Screenplay Larry Gelbart, Sheldon Keller 2nd place
1979 Golden Globe Award Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy Nominated
Best Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy George C. Scott Nominated
Best Motion Picture Acting Debut - Male Harry Hamlin Nominated
Berlin International Film Festival Golden Bear Stanley Donen Nominated
National Society of Film Critics Best Supporting Actor Barry Bostwick 4th place
Best Screenplay Larry Gelbart, Sheldon Keller 3rd place
Writers Guild of America Award Best Comedy Written Directly for the Screen Larry Gelbart, Sheldon Keller Won
1980 David di Donatello Best Foreign Music Ralph Burns Won


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.[4] Casting was completed by Florida-based casting director, Beverly McDermott.[5]

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


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. ^ "Lenny Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved October 28, 2010. 
  3. ^ Kermode Uncut: Hoffman Top Ten
  4. ^ "Robert DeMeo Bio". 
  5. ^ "Beverly McDermott dies at 83". Sun Sentinel. 23 January 2012. Archived from the original on 22 September 2012. Retrieved 22 September 2012. 

External links[edit]