Before he recorded “Suzanne” or “Hallelujah” or retreated to a Zen Monastery on Mt. Baldy for 5 years, Leonard Cohen was the subject of Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Leonard Cohen, a 1965 documentary that offers a rare glimpse into the prosaic meanderings of a great artist before his peak.
Born into a prominent Jewish family in Montreal that descended from a long line of rabbis, Cohen wrote poems and novels that were, in some cases, laced with biblical imagery.
As Cohen rose to prominence in select literary circles, the Canadian Film Board decided to produce a film that would introduce the 30-year-old to a broader audience. The documentary captures the poet’s extended visit to his hometown of Montreal. The film, shot in black and white, presents his personal history as well as his day-to-day life, including trips to the barber, friend’s homes, bars and hotels. Cohen’s readings of his own poetry are interspersed throughout.
Leonard Cohen, now 78, is considered to be one of the most influential Jewish artists in North America, and the film, which you can watch right on right here, is an incredible window into his past.