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Born to Win (1971)

A smart-mouthed junkie and loser known as J.J. (George Segal) spends his days looking for just "one more fix".



(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Jay Fletcher ...
Billy Dynamite
Danny (as Robert DeNiro)
Ed Madsen ...
Irving Selbst ...
Tim Pelt ...
Little Davey
José Pérez ...
Junior Conception (as Jose Perez)
Sylvia Syms ...
Cashier (as Sylvia Simms)
Jack Hollander ...
Alex Colon ...
Bus Boy
Max Brandt ...


A smart-mouthed junkie and loser known as J.J. (George Segal) spends his days looking for just "one more fix".

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Their story is written on his arm. If they can get a grip on each other, maybe they can turn their lives around.


Comedy | Crime | Drama


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

13 July 1972 (Denmark)  »

Also Known As:

Addict  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The film was chosen to be screened at the New York Film Festival in October 1971. See more »


[first lines]
J: 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!
See more »


References Sudden Terror (1970) See more »


Ooh Poo Pah Doo
Written by Jessie Hill
[Incorrectly credited as written by Ike Turner and Tina Turner]
Performed by Ike Turner and Tina Turner
See more »

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User Reviews

truths moviemakers tell themselves
13 May 2004 | by See all my reviews

George Segal's career encompasses a large body of work, spanning decades. I've seen only a few of his movies. "The Hot Rock" was a great ensemble comedy. "Terminal Man", timely and dark, pegs the other end of the spectrum. It's safe to say the 1970s were about challenging the Old Guard. In Hollywood, this meant reinvention and the search for Truth begun anew. From industry insiders all the way down to you and me it's understood "truth in film" is synonymous with or defined as risky and unprofitable, something other than standard fare. And though overused, the phrase 'they don't make 'em like that anymore' is applicable here, because "Born to Win" was produced for reasons other than profit. Its story is roughly drawn and its characters hunger for a pure, painless resolution that you know will never come by the end of the first scene. George Segal is at the center as J, a heroin addict who spends his time visualizing new plans for his next fix. All other characters within his orbit advance his desparation. There's a very palpable truth in the uncertainty the characters feel. They live, but have no lives. Segal's character has never called a shot in his life, yet he knows from years of experience how it will turn out, with him behind the 8-ball. Karen Black plays the love interest who extends to him the hope of salvation, only to be swept under. Hector Elizondo, Robert De Niro, Paula Prentiss and JJ's main junkie pal Billy (Jay Fletcher) exist to keep the downward spiral swirling. A refreshing and enjoyable film for people who feel a nostalgia for challenging, resonant stories that strike a chord as pure as a tuning fork.

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