True Identity

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True Identity
True Identity FilmPoster.jpeg
UK DVD cover
Directed by Charles Lane
Written by Andy Breckman
Produced byCarol Baum
Teri Schwartz
Cinematography Thomas E. Ackerman
Edited by Kent Beyda
Music byMarc Marder
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures Distribution
Release date
  • August 23, 1991 (1991-08-23)
Running time
93 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$15 million
Box office$4,693,236 (US) [1]

True Identity is a 1991 American comedy film directed by Charles Lane and starring Lenny Henry, Frank Langella and Anne-Marie Johnson. [2] The plot revolves around a black man (Henry), who disguises himself as a white man to escape the mob.



A struggling black actor named Miles Pope is on a plane ride home from a failed acting audition. Miles meets a producer named Leland Carver who accidentally reveals his mafia ties when he believes that their plane is about to crash. However, the plane does not crash and Miles is the only man who knows Leland's past. To escape, Miles persuades his makeup artist friend Duane to transform him into a Caucasian male.

As Miles is packing his bags to get out of town, a hitman walks in and a struggle ensues. Miles kills the hitman, but through a comedy of errors he is mistaken for the hitman. Miles must assume a parade of identities to stay one step ahead of the mafia on his trail.



The film received mediocre reviews. [4] [5] Caryn James of The New York Times said that Lane's direction was "tame and conventional" and that although Henry had "obvious" talent, True Identity does not take enough advantage of it". [6] Lenny Henry commented on the film retrospectively in 2010: "When I went to America to do True Identity in 1991, I realised they had their own Richard Pryor, they didn’t need me pretending to be Richard Pryor, so I had a massive career rethink." [7] The film was not a box office success. [8]

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  1. True Identity at Box Office Mojo
  2. "Making a Serious Comedy". Entertainment Weekly . Retrieved 2012-06-05.
  3. "Lenny Henry --The Man in the Irony Mask : Movies: The British comedian finds the transition from black to white for his role in 'True Identity' an illuminating experience". The Los Angeles Times . 1991-08-24. Retrieved 2011-01-14.
  4. "True Identity". Entertainment Weekly . Retrieved 2012-06-05.
  5. Turan, Kenneth (1991-08-23). "Movie Review : A Mistaken 'Identity' From Lane". The Los Angeles Times . Retrieved 2011-01-14.
  6. James, Caryn (1991-08-23). "Review/Film; A British Comedian Abroad, in 'True Identity'". The New York Times . Retrieved 2011-01-14.
  7. "Lenny Henry interview". Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 2010-12-04. Retrieved 2012-06-06.
  8. Fox, David J. (1991-08-27). "Weekend Box Office : List-Toppers Are Listless". Los Angeles Times . Retrieved 2011-01-14.