5.6/10
1,470
29 user 10 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 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:

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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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!
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 »

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User Reviews

 
Classic early Passer and G. Segal!
12 July 2004 | by shepardjessicaSee all my reviews

This TOTALLY, except for the cool critics (including Pauline Kael), was written off by a bad check, probably because it was another foreign director (like Milos Forman) cashing in on the real GOLDEN AGE of cinema (for America, for sure). That stuff doesn't matter. George Segal, one of the genius actors of the late 60's and 70's, gives an incredible performance as "J" the junkie, AFTER establishing himself as the comic everyman for five years. He's already done King Rat in 1965 and was nominated in 1966 for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, I won't even list this dude's accomplishments in a VERY timely era and film space and he was very good. Paula Prentiss (AS ALWAYS) is wonderful, Hector Elizondo, Karen Black and a host of New York unknown stage actors will blow you away with this film. They've changed the title. OH, I FORGOT, Robert DeNiro is GREAT in this in a small role (but a good one).

Nobody cares about junkies ...and why should they? This film isn't about street fixers; it's about New York City in that time period. It's just a wonderful film. It has everything the other COOL films of the 70's had, except marketing - and it blows away Panic in Needle Park with Pacino and Kitty Wynn (a good film), but the message wasn't LEFT or RIGHT enough, even to the people who appreciated that great era of AMERICAN films and this one (like many) was directed by a FOREIGNER (a great director). I'm just babbling here now; Find this film; I found it on Video and I hope to God it's on DVD by now. It's a smooth trail of NYC hopeful desperation at the bottom of that barrel, but you won't regret the trip. An 8 out of 10. Best performance = George Segal. Find it, if you're interested in great movies of that era that didn't make a million bucks!


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