Paula Prentiss received star billing even though she appears on screen for only about three minutes. When asked about this at the New York Film Festival press screening, directed Ivan Passer said that her agent demanded it, adding, "After all, what difference does it make?" See more »
They same I'm a charmer... that I charm the people I hustle. Well, that comes after dealing with women, after hairdressing. I love to dress hair! But being that I know what to do, being that I'm hip enough to know, I do it!
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While low budget filmmakers in California were making films like "Psych-out" and "The Trip" with Fonda and Nicholson and Hopper it was different in New York. Low budget filmmakers on the east coast took a more tougher look at drugs and it usually took place on the streets of New York. This film is about a drug addict named J (George Segal) who has the tattoo "Born to Win" on his arm and he's always doing favors for a local dealer named Vivian (Hector Elizondo) who is becoming annoyed by J. One day J meets Parm (Karen Black) who is a free spirited girl and they both become attracted to each other right away. J is becoming more desperate and he even resorts to robbing some of the people he does favors for. Two dirty cops (Robert Deniro and Ed Madsen) tell J that they want to bust Vivian and they want him to help. They won't bust J because they want to keep him on the streets but they do make his life even worse than it is. This film was directed by Ivan Passer who is a competent director but has only had a mediocre career making movies. But he does a good job here and all the characters are portrayed as lowlifes. Even Paula Prentiss is a drug addict in this film and it's a strange bit of casting to have her in such a role. Good use of New York locations as it was shot right in the middle of downtown and it gives this film that authentic street look. One of the reasons that this is interesting to view is spotting the actors in early roles. Segal had already broke through with an Oscar nomination in 1966 and he obviously was trying new ground as an actor and Black was fresh off an Oscar nomination herself. Early look at Deniro and Elizondo and Burt Young pops up as a thug about midway through. This has that sad and ambiguous ending but that adds to the impact of this tough and gritty little film. All the performances are pretty good and I would have been interested in seeing Prentiss in a larger role. This doesn't get discussed much when people talk of the New York films of the 1970's but it is a well made low budget entry that others should view.
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