While Leonard Cohen’s music has been featured in more than 50 movie soundtracks, Cohen himself has rarely been part of the cast (other than in documentaries about him).
In The Ernie Game, however, Leonard Cohen plays a cameo role – as a singer who performs “The Stranger Song.”
The Wikipedia entry on The Ernie Game, a 1967 Canadian film (shot in Montreal) by Don Owen, is instructive:
Called “One of the most innovative examples of personal cinema to come from English Canada in the Sixties” by the Cinematheque Ontario, The Ernie Game was part of a proposed trio of works intended to celebrate the Canadian Centennial. The film centres around Ernie Turner and his attempts to survive in the world after he’s released from an asylum. He grows increasingly alienated and his fragile mental state declines, moving between two women, ex-girlfriend and current lover. “The Ernie Game provides a resonant portrait of mental illness,” writes Steve Gravestock of the Cinematheque, “its pathologically narcissistic protagonist representing Owen’s most nightmarish vision of the artist as fraud and pariah.” Owen risked his career at the NFB when he surreptitiously turned what was to have been a half-hour educational film into the of the few English-language dramatic features made in Canada during the 1960s.
Produced by the National Film Board of Canada, The Ernie Game received the Etrog Awards, now known as Genie Awards, for Best Direction and Best Feature Film in 1968. It was also entered into the 18th Berlin International Film Festival.
Jackie Burroughs – Gail
Anna Cameron – Social worker
Leonard Cohen – Singer
Corinne Copnick – Landlady
Rolland D’Amour – Neighbour
Judith Gault – Donna
Alexis Kanner – Ernie Turner
Derek May – Ernie’s accomplice
Louis Negin – Ernie’s friend
Leonard Cohen In The Ernie Game
The video is configured to begin at the start of Cohen’s performance.
Note: Originally posted May 7, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric