5.7/10
1,354
26 user 9 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 »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
George Segal ... J
Karen Black ... Parm
Paula Prentiss ... Veronica
Jay Fletcher 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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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

13 July 1972 (Denmark) See more »

Also Known As:

Addict See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA

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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Did You Know?

Trivia

When Ed Madsen is chasing George Segal down the hallway, he slips and falls. This was not written in the screenplay. However, Ivan Passer thought it looked so real, he decided to leave it in. 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!
See more »

Connections

References Sudden Terror (1970) See more »

Soundtracks

Ballad in C
Written by Karen Black
Sung by Karen Black
See more »

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User Reviews

The seventies' bleakest--and one of the best
27 June 2002 | by nunculusSee all my reviews

One of the great joys of being a movie addict is loving unreasonably. There's probably no rational way to convey my adoration for this 1971 Ivan Passer movie, which was made for nothing back in the day when movies like this actually could get made and released--today, it'd be shot on digital video in someone's basement and never see the light of day. George Segal gives one of the performances of his career as J, a hairdresser turned heroin addict who vamps his way through the day with a torrent of improvised Lenny Bruce hipsterisms. Karen Black is the "straight," broken girl who falls in love with him for no good reason except that he's broken too--I can't think of a more haunting moment in a movie romance than the one where she drops him off in midtown Manhattan to score dope and implores, "J--remember to come back home." The movie fleetly conveys the romance, the soft-edgedness and wombiness of heroin--and then in short order takes you all the way down to the bitterest consequences. And it reminds you of the beauties of hard-knuckle, dirty-formica naturalism--pleasures unavailable to more stylized or more conceptual pictures. Has there ever been an actress as free as Karen Black? The way she lifts up ten fingers, over and over again, to count off the number of men she's slept with; or the strange little hair-bite she does when she oaths her love to Segal on the beach--everything is as fresh and unaffected and right as if it were playing out in your living room right this minute. The locations, the smoky, salty, funereal-blues soundtrack--Ivan Passer can't put a foot wrong in this movie. Why is this guy not being given all the work in the world? And why is this movie not acclaimed a masterpiece in a world where rusty chestnuts by Rafelson and Bogdanovich are still held in high esteem?


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