The deification began with Julian Barry’s play, adapted for Bob Fosse’s Lenny, and continued with Albert Goldman’s book Ladies and Gentlemen, Lenny Bruce!! and the Lenny Bruce Performance Film. His albums are back in the record stores and, all things considered, [Lenny Bruce] is still one of our most successful comedians.
All of this myth-making involves playing fast and loose with the facts, which do not make Lenny Bruce out as quite the heroic figure we’re now asked to accept. But no matter. If the film Lenny works as fiction, that’s all we have the right to expect. The problem is that it doesn’t. Bob Fosse, who captured a time and form of show business so memorably in Cabaret, tries this time for a quasi-documentary style that gets in the way of his, and Lenny’s, material. And Dustin Hoffman, good as he is in the title role, is never quite permitted to put together an organic, three-dimensional character.
— Roger Ebert, from his November 10, 1974 review of Lenny
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