Zelig (Woody Allen) - 1983

Leonard Zelig is the ultimate conformist who quickly assumes the physical and mental characteristics of any group in his vicinity.  The movie is filmed in a documentary style using mostly black-and-white footage from the 1920s.  The narrator is British actor, Patrick Horgan who also appeared in The Curse of the Jade Scorpion.  Horgan is character actor who is also a veteran soap-opera performer.  Some modern (color) commentators were also used including Susan Sontag (1933-2004), Irving Howe (1920-1993) and Saul Bellow (1915-2005).  Mia Farrow played Woody's psychiatrist and love interest.

Zelig's personality disorder caused him to become an incredible photo opportunity hog seeking company with Herbert Hoover, Calvin Coolidge, Lou Gehrig, Adolf Hitler, Pope Pius XI and many others.  Zelig also seemed to have selective amnesia regarding numerous marriages, medical operations and house paintings that ended poorly.  His disorder may have been the result of a dysfunctional childhood led by a father whose only advice to him was "to save string." 

This film is an enormous accomplishment and history lesson that brings all of the major events of the 1920s into one picture with Woody Allen woven into the fabric of the documentary in a respectful manner.  [JAM 12/8/2009]

Stephanie Farrow became the third of four Farrow sisters to act in a woody Allen movie. [JAM 12/21/2009]

["Zelig was fun to shoot.  We didn't have to set up for elaborate lighting, just shoot.  But there was a lot of work in postproduction.  We ordered TV equipment and did all the newsreel footage on cassettes.  We had hundreds of thousands of feet of Nazi footage and other historical things." Conversations with Woody Allen June 1987]

[" ... I don't have any doctrinaire point of view in making up fiction about analysts or Jews, women or Americans - it's whatever serves the story ... if Zelig suddenly went crazy and stabbed Dr. Fletcher, or if Dr. Fletcher suddenly flipped out and went away and broke his heart, and that was the most effective ending for the movie, then that would have been the ending." Conversations with Woody Allen November 2006]