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The Jerk (1979)

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A simple minded, sheltered country boy suddenly decides to leave his family home to experience life in the big city, where his naivety is both his best friend, and worst enemy.

Director:

Carl Reiner

Writers:

Steve Martin (screenplay), Carl Gottlieb (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
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Popularity
2,049 ( 1,572)
1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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 Helena Carroll ... Hester
Renn Woods ... Elvira (as Ren Wood)
Pepe Serna ... Punk #1
Sonny Terry Sonny Terry ... Blues Singer
Brownie McGhee Brownie McGhee ... Blues Singer (as Brownie McGee)
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Storyline

Navin is an idiot. He grew up in Mississippi as adopted son of a black family but on his 18th birthday he feels he wants to discover the rest of the world and sets out to St. Louis. There everyone exploits his naivety, but then a simple invention brings him a fortune. Written by Tom Zoerner <Tom.Zoerner@informatik.uni-erlangen.de>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

From rags to riches... to rags. See more »

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

14 December 1979 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Easy Money See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$5,935,025, 16 December 1979, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$73,691,419
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (Super 8-version in 2 parts)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

First of two films that Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters made together. The second was Pennies from Heaven (1981). See more »

Goofs

Navin opens his door and throws popcorn in the face of the Private Investigator, right after the popcorn bounces off the face the PI spits a mouthful out. The PI never opened his mouth prior to the throw. 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 »

Crazy Credits

Pig Eye Jackson - Cat Juggler (Steve Martin) See more »

Alternate Versions

The scene where Navin and Marie first meet was also changed. After Navin rescues Billy from the train ride, he tramples through a bunch of miniature houses because his cap is pulled down. When Marie gives Navin back his stuff and thanks him for saving Billy, an alternate take and different shots are used. After Navin says, "he's a real little dickens," Marie adds the line, "so are you," and a close-up is used when she kisses him. See more »


Soundtracks

You Belong To Me
Sung by Bernadette Peters and Steve Martin
Music by Lee David
Lyric by Billy Rose
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Overwhelmingly and brilliantly funny with genius throwaways.
24 December 2003 | by douglasreid-1See all my reviews

To enter the realm inhabited by Martin's blissfully original caricatures, you must first be tested for wit, intellect and an innocent revelry in life itself. If you qualify, you will be led on to a rollercoaster of oxygen-sapping gags, stupendously clever motifs, brilliant performances and an absolutely fabulous script. There are gags here so new and surprising that to try and emulate them could only court failure. The joy of true love accompanied by him on the ukelele and on the last stanza by her on the........ trumpet: and a beautiful little song. Is it the humour or the innocence brings a tear to your eye? Don't call the dog "life saver", call him "s***head" - and for evermore, he is. The white man who is distraught to discover that he is not black. The goodbye note and Martin reading bits of words as they are washed away. The seminal "all I need" scene which is milked to the point of asphixia. The Jerk is simply the funniest most understatedly clever movie ever produced. There has simply never been anything this good, nor will there ever be. The message is simple and is a very old one: the buffoon as saint. From Bottom in Shakespeare, to Tristram Shandy, to Chaplin, to the genius understatement of Cary Grant, to Norman Wisdom: they have all touched on and come tantalisingly close, but they have all lacked one ingredient, an ingrediant calledSteve Martin. Like Orson Welles and Kane or Frederick Forsyth and the Jackal or Men at Work and Land Down Under, Martin has played his best shot first, unfettered, undisciplined, unconstrained genius. Let us all be better, brighter, cleverer and genuinely funnier by being the jerk. And if that's too frightening, just watch it.


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