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Lenny (film)

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Title: Lenny (film)  
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Subject: Bruce Surtees, Lenny Bruce, Bob Fosse, Paula Wagner, Alan Heim
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Lenny (film)

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
Release dates
  • 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 score of 100% "Fresh" on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes based on 16 reviews.[2]

Awards and honors

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.[3]


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


  1. ^ Top 20 Films of 1974 by Domestic Revenue. Box Office Report via Internet Archive. Retrieved September 15, 2013.
  2. ^ Movie Reviews, Pictures"Lenny".  
  3. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Lenny". Retrieved 2009-04-28. 
  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. 

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