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  • by David C. Terr

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    zelig movie posterTitle: Zelig

    Director: Woody Allen

    Starring: Woody Allen, Mia Farrow

    Release Date: July 15, 1983 (USA)

    Running Time: 79 min

    Genre: Comedy

     

    Commentary
    Zelig is a masterpiece of a movie starring, written and directed by Woody Allen. It's a very cleverly-done film, featuring old film clips from the '20s and '30s which are incorparted seamlessly into the movie. The plot is rather bizarre, but highly amusing. As usual, Woody Allen is a riot in this film. Mia Farrow also does a terrific acting job.

    Plot Summary
    Zelig takes place in the 1920s and 1930s. The plot concerns a man named Leonard Zelig (Allen) who has a very strange condition in which he turns into the type of person or people he is surrounded by. For instance, around black men he turns black, around doctors he turns into a doctor, etc. He becomes known as a "human chameleon" and quickly becomes a worldwide celebrity. His condition inspires popular songs, dances, and chameleon toys.

    Eventually psychiatrist Eudora Fletcher (Farrow) works with him and ends up curing him. Soon afterward they fall in love. However, Zelig finds himself in trouble when several women accuse him of bigamy, having married them back when he was a chameleon. He soon becomes a scandalous figure in the public eye, whence he reverts to his earlier condition. He ends up fleeing to Nazi Germany, where Dr. Fletcher eventually finds him. Zelig transforms himself into a pilot, flying upside-down in Dr. Fletcher's plane the entire way back to the States!

    Cultural Significance
    Zelig is one of many nostalgic films by Woody Allen which take place in the '20s and/or '30s. Here are a few others:

    • Broadway Danny Rose (1984)
    • The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)
    • Radio Days (1987)
    • Bullets Over Broadway (1994)

    Movie Clips

    Here's the opening of the film.

     


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