5.6/10
1,517
30 user 11 critic

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".

Director:

Ivan Passer

Writers:

David Scott Milton (screenplay), Ivan Passer (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

Photos

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
George Segal ... J
Paula Prentiss ... Veronica
Karen Black ... Parm
Jay Fletcher ... Billy Dynamite
Hector Elizondo ... Vivian
Robert De Niro ... Danny (as Robert DeNiro)
Ed Madsen Ed Madsen ... Detective
Marcia Jean Kurtz ... Marlene
Irving Selbst Irving Selbst ... Stanley
Tim Pelt Tim Pelt ... Little Davey
José Pérez José Pérez ... Junior Conception (as Jose Perez)
Sylvia Syms Sylvia Syms ... Cashier (as Sylvia Simms)
Jack Hollander Jack Hollander ... Harry
Alex Colon ... Bus Boy
Max Brandt Max Brandt ... Store Clerk
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Storyline

J.J., a former New York City hairdresser, commits petty crimes, often with his friend Billy Dynamite, to support his drug habit. He's not very good at it, with something often going wrong. One of J.J.'s more regular gigs is working as a mule for Vivian - who J.J. calls Geek Man to Vivian's chagrin - a pimp for who J.J.'s ex-wife, Veronica, also a junkie, now hustles also to support her habit. J.J.'s life has the potential to change the result of two encounters. One is with a pair of NYPD narcs who have him over a barrel concerning his drug use and what they want out of him to make a drug conviction go away. Two is with a young woman named Parm who he meets in the act of one of his crimes. J.J. and Parm enter into a relationship, the love and support within that makes J.J. want to come out on top for once in his life. Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Comedy | Crime | Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Co-Writer and Director Ivan Passer and co-Writer David Scott Milton started interviewing ex-addicts at the Phoenix House, near where they were putting on a play together titled "Duet for Solo Voice". The resulting screenplay was originally much more serious in tone when shot. The comic elements were played up later during editing. See more »

Quotes

[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! That's love and peace. Love and peace. You just gotta keep sending it out. Love. That love and peace.
[smiles]
J: I'm not J for nothing, you know?
See more »

Alternate Versions

The budget video releases of this film cut the film by approximately four minutes. Among the missing footage: Segal and Prentiss putting tourniquets on in a back room of the nightclub in preparation for taking heroin, an exchange involving Karen Black's character's breast size (and a retort involving Segal's breast size), an extension of the scene featuring Segal in the pink robe giving the "up-yours" sign to the girl on the balcony, dialogue when Black and Segal are making love, and assorted others. A 35mm print screened at New York's Museum of Modern Art in March 2009 retains these scenes. The video prints have been seemingly TV-edited for objectionable content. See more »

Connections

References Sudden Terror (1970) See more »

Soundtracks

Ooh Poo Pah Doo
Written by Jessie Hill (uncredited)
Performed by Ike Turner and Tina Turner
See more »

User Reviews

 
Not an entirely convincing vehicle for George Segal
6 November 2017 | by moonspinner55See all my reviews

George Segal plays Times Square junkie "J", a smack addict who is set up for a fall by his supplier, a slick street hustler named Vivian (Hector Elizondo). He lives to see another day, but is approached by two narcotics cops to put the frame on Vivian or do serious time. Czech director Ivan Passer's first American film was a personal project for Segal, whose fledgling production company put the deal together (it was originally a very-off Off-Broadway play entitled "Scraping Bottom" by David Scott Milton, who shares the screenplay credit with Passer). While the character of "J" is certainly a change of pace for the star, Segal still looks like a fuzzy, hurt-eyed hamster out to tug at our heartstrings. One gets the impression Segal was willing to go all the way with this material, but that maybe someone talked him into softening this low-life portrait; he's too clear in his thinking, in his decision-making and in his dealings with the cops to make a truly convincing junkie. There's talent all around Segal, including Paula Prentiss as another addict, Karen Black as Segal's square girlfriend, Robert DeNiro as a narc and Burt Young as a hood, but it's really Elizondo's picture. Even though Passer filmed on the gritty streets of New York City, it is Elizondo who provides the movie with its dash of dangerously cool authenticity. ** from ****


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

13 July 1972 (Denmark) See more »

Also Known As:

Scraping Bottom See more »

Filming Locations:

New York, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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