IMDb > The Jerk (1979)
The Jerk
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The Jerk (1979) More at IMDbPro »

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Overview

User Rating:
7.2/10   37,821 votes »
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Down 16% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Director:
Writers:
Steve Martin (screenplay) &
Carl Gottlieb (screenplay) ...
(more)
Contact:
View company contact information for The Jerk on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
14 December 1979 (USA) See more »
Genre:
Tagline:
From rags to riches... to rags. See more »
Plot:
An idiotic man struggles to make it through life on his own in St. Louis. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
User Reviews:
Overall, "The Jerk" is one of the most original, wacky, and wild and crazy (Martin reference intended) comedies ever. See it for laughs, plain and simple. See more (113 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Steve Martin ... Navin / Cat Juggler (as Pig Eye Jackson also)

Bernadette Peters ... Marie

Catlin Adams ... Patty Bernstein

Mabel King ... Mother
Richard Ward ... Father

Dick Anthony Williams ... Taj

Bill Macy ... Stan Fox

M. Emmet Walsh ... Madman

Dick O'Neill ... Frosty

Maurice Evans ... Hobart
Helena Carroll ... Hester

Renn Woods ... Elvira (as Ren Wood)

Pepe Serna ... Punk #1
Sonny Terry ... Blues Singer
Brownie McGhee ... Blues Singer (as Brownie McGee)

Jackie Mason ... Harry Hartounian
David Landsberg ... Bank Manager
Domingo Ambriz ... Father De Cordoba
Richard Foronjy ... Con Man
Lenny Montana ... Con Man

Carl Gottlieb ... Iron Balls McGinty
Clete Roberts ... Announcer
Frances E. Williams ... Grandma Johnson
Lydia McGhee ... Cleotis Johnson
Niko Denise Holmes ... Satch Johnson
Shawn Harris ... Pierre Johnson
Nyles Harris ... Leroy Johnson (as Niles Harris)
Susan Denise Harrison ... Lisa Johnson
Douglas S. Close ... Fireman
Sharon Johansen ... Mrs. Hartounian

Trinidad Silva ... Punk
Alston Ahern ... Bride
Lawrence Green ... Father of Bride
Ken Magee ... Carnival Rube
Tom J. Delaney ... Tourist
Alfred Dennis ... Irving
Marc Loge ... Farm Boy
Jon Leichter ... Billy
Lillian Adams ... Tillie
Joe Lynn ... Voodoo Dancer
Maurice Marsac ... French Waiter
Gene LeBell ... Con Man (as Gene Lebell)

Fred Lerner ... Con Man
Jerry G. Velasco ... Man in Garden
Kimberly Cameron ... Disco Party
Elizabeth Macey ... Disco Party
Richie Reiner ... Disco Party
Daniel Trevor ... Disco Party

Carl Reiner ... Carl Reiner The Celebrity (as Carl Reiner The Celebrity)
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Luis Contreras ... Extra in 'Cat Juggling' Scene (uncredited)

Larry Hankin ... Circus Hand (uncredited)
Flower Parry ... Bag Lady (uncredited)

Rob Reiner ... Truck Driver Picking Up Navin (uncredited)

Gailard Sartain ... Guy with Cracked Airplane Seats (uncredited)

William Schallert ... Judge M.A. Loring (uncredited)

Directed by
Carl Reiner 
 
Writing credits
Steve Martin (screenplay) &
Carl Gottlieb (screenplay) &
Michael Elias (screenplay)

Steve Martin (story) &
Carl Gottlieb (story)

Produced by
Peter Macgregor-Scott .... associate producer
William E. McEuen .... producer
David V. Picker .... producer
 
Original Music by
Jack Elliott 
 
Cinematography by
Victor J. Kemper (director of photography)
 
Film Editing by
Bud Molin 
Ron Spang 
 
Casting by
Gino Havens 
Penny Perry 
 
Production Design by
Jack T. Collis 
 
Set Decoration by
Richard C. Goddard (set decorations) (as Richard Goddard)
 
Costume Design by
Theadora Van Runkle 
 
Makeup Department
Del Acevedo .... makeup artist
Barbara Lorenz .... hair stylist
 
Production Management
Peter Macgregor-Scott .... production manager
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Newt Arnold .... first assistant director (as Newton Arnold)
Ed Milkovich .... second assistant director
 
Art Department
Joseph E. Hubbard .... set designer (as Joe Hubbard)
Ed Karas .... construction foreman
Johnny Lattanzio .... paint foreman (as John Lattanzio)
Dennis J. Parrish .... property master (as Dennis Parrish)
 
Sound Department
Gordon Daniel .... sound effects editor
Marvin I. Kosberg .... loop dialogue editor
Gilbert D. Marchant .... sound effects editor (as Gil Marchant)
William L. McCaughey .... sound rerecording
Hoppy Mehterian .... sound rerecording
Eddie Nelson .... sound rerecording
Anthony Palk .... sound effects editor (as Tony Polk)
Keith Stafford .... sound effects editor
Charles M. Wilborn .... sound
Robert Nichols II .... sound recordist (uncredited)
 
Special Effects by
Henry Millar .... special effects
 
Stunts
Debbie Evans .... stunts
Conrad E. Palmisano .... stunt coordinator (as Conrad Palmisano)
Conrad E. Palmisano .... stunt double: Steve Martin
Bruce Paul Barbour .... stunt performer (uncredited)
Steven Burnett .... stunts (uncredited)
David S. Cass Sr. .... stunts (uncredited)
Jeannie Epper .... stunts (uncredited)
Diane Peterson .... stunts (uncredited)
Rick Seaman .... stunts (uncredited)
 
Camera and Electrical Department
Earl Gilbert .... gaffer
Rhio Haessig .... best boy
Robert Marta .... assistant cameraman
Gaylin P. Schultz .... key grip (as Gaylin Schultz)
Bernie Schwartz .... best boy
Robert C. Thomas .... camera operator (as Robert Thomas)
Stephen Vaughan .... stills
David Augsburger .... second assistant camera (uncredited)
 
Costume and Wardrobe Department
April Ferry .... costume supervisor
Michael J. Harte .... costume supervisor
 
Music Department
Jack Elliott .... conductor
Milton Lustig .... music editor
Jon Charles .... orchestrator (uncredited)
George Doering .... musician (uncredited)
 
Transportation Department
Craig Pinkard .... transportation captain
'Bud' Williams .... transportation co-captain (as Bud Williams)
 
Other crew
Betty Glickman .... assistant to producer
Dow Griffith .... location manager
Terry Robertson .... production secretary
Bill Rodenbaugh .... accountant (as William Rodenbaugh)
Marshall J. Wolins .... script supervisor (as Marshal Wolins)
 
Crew believed to be complete


Production Companies
  • Aspen Film Society (as An Aspen Film Society William E. McEuen David V. Picker Production)
DistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
Runtime:
94 min
Country:
Language:
Color:
Color (Technicolor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Certification:
Australia:M | Finland:K-16 (cut) (1980) | Iceland:L | Netherlands:AL (orginal rating) | Norway:12 | Portugal:M/12 | Singapore:PG | Sweden:15 | UK:AA (original rating) | UK:15 (tv rating) | UK:12 (2013) | UK:15 (video rating) (1986) (2000) | USA:R | West Germany:12

Did You Know?

Trivia:
The song that Navin and Marie sing as they walk along the beach, "Tonight You Belong to Me", was a hit in the '50s for sister duet Patience and Prudence.See more »
Goofs:
Continuity: When Navin first receives the glasses from Stan Fox, the part of the glasses that hook around the ears have almost no hook to them. After Navin installs the nose bridge handle (the opti-grab), the glasses have normal ear hooks.See more »
Quotes:
[first lines]
Navin R. Johnson:Huh? I am *not* a bum. I'm a jerk. I once had wealth, power, and the love of a beautiful woman. Now I only have two things: my friends, and... uh... my thermos. Huh? My story? Okay. It was never easy for me. I was born a poor black child. I remember the days, sittin' on the porch with my family, singin' and dancin' down in Mississippi...
See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in "Peep Show: Wedding (#2.6)" (2004)See more »
Soundtrack:
Pick A Bale Of CottonSee more »

FAQ

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
35 out of 52 people found the following review useful.
Overall, "The Jerk" is one of the most original, wacky, and wild and crazy (Martin reference intended) comedies ever. See it for laughs, plain and simple., 11 March 2003
Author: MovieAddict2014 from UK

The Jerk - 4.5/5 Country: US Language: English Year: 1979 Rating: R Director: Carl Reiner Starring: Steve Martin, Bernadette Peters, Mable King, M. Emmet Walsh

REVIEW BY JOHN ULMER

Steve Martin had basically gained a burst of fame before starring in Carl Reiner's wacky comedy "The Jerk." Martin was fresh off hosting "Saturday Night Live" a few times, and had made a few albums and stand-up gigs. But "The Jerk" is what established him as an on-screen comedian.

Martin plays a lame-brain fool, who lives with his family on a plantation farm. Only one problem. His family is black, he is white. After coming to facts about his racial status, Martin flees from the scene and heads for the downtown gig. He is suckered out of - and into - many things throughout the film. Not as much of because he is innocent as he is dumb, however. Unlike comedies like "Blast From the Past" where the main character is treated bad and doesn't realize it because he/she is innocent and has no idea what to expect from life, Martin gets treated bad and doesn't realize it because he is stupid, not only because he is innocent.

The Jerk starts out working at a gas station. Some of the funniest scenes occur here. One, is when a madman with a sniper rifle is shooting at Martin and misses. Martin, being The Jerk, thinks the man is purposely shooting at paint cans. He says, "Hey! It's the cans! He must hate the cans! Stay away from the cans!" Another is when he gets a home...living in a bathroom. ("Like it? I LOVE it!") And one that has always gotten my funnybone is when Martin looks in a phone book and sees his name. "I'm a person now!" He yells. This is true, of course. All of us feel like more than just skin after seeing our names printed somewhere. I recall first seeing my name as a reviewer on Rotten Tomatoes. It feels great to have your name written somewhere, because you know that someone, somewhere, saw that name and put it in. Someone read one of my movie reviews. Though Martin's character takes it to a new extreme, it is nevertheless true. When you sign your name on a document, the document becomes active and real. So why should it not be the same with Martin's character? Perhaps while he is a jerk, he is at the same time smart. Nah, he's just stupid.

"The Jerk" carved a place for itself in history. I had really never seen any comedy like it before. "Airplane" was released the same year, and the humor was much the same, as well as the editing (see below), but I saw "The Jerk" first, and it was an odd surprise. The humor is by itself. It is so odd and original that it makes it one of the best. Martin went on to make the less-successful "The Man with Two Brains," also directed by Reiner. The film is much the same, but does not work to the same degree. Too many jokes fall flat. Unlike "The Jerk," where the jokes start to fall flat in the middle and pick up again at the end, "The Man with Two Brains" had its hit-and-misses almost the whole way through. It was a fine comedy, but not great at all.

Steve Martin brings his character to life. He is one of the absolute dumbest, innocent, naive individuals I have ever seen on screen. But what makes him work so well is Martin. Martin behind it all. But the thing is, Martin dissolves himself completely into character. He is so stupid that you can't help but laugh. In "The Naked Gun" (1988) Leslie Nielsen used a dumb character and played him smart, deadpan, serious. Like everything he was saying and doing was normal. Martin does the same, but in a different way. He doesn't play him deadpan and smart. He plays a dumb character dumb, having no idea what he is saying and doing is wrong. And another interesting aspect is that even though Martin disguises himself as The Jerk, we can still see Martin shining through. Martin can play versatile actors (see "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" - 1987), but Martin is still inside. We can see him shining through. That is why Steve Martin is one of my favorite comedians. He can envelop his character, yet at the same time keep the Martin charm. That's why I can usually expect solid laughs from a Martin vehicle.

Director Carl Reiner does a few out-of-place cuts in "The Jerk," just like he did in "The Man with Two Brains," but I think that it worked overall. Part of what makes this movie so funny and goofy is how the editing is so odd. So many scenes are out of place and pay nothing to the film. But like I said, that is what makes it so original and stupid.

The film loses some steam halfway through, and the jokes sometimes fall flat, but overall the comedy is one of the best of its genre. I would say it is Martin's best comedy, but that spot is saved for "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" which co-stars John Candy. THAT movie is Steve Martin's best, and always will be.

Overall, "The Jerk" is one of the most original, wacky, and wild and crazy (Martin reference intended) comedies ever. See it for laughs, plain and simple.

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