5.7/10
1,380
27 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:

12 | 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, 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

David Scott Milton based the characters in this film on the addicts who frequented the Manhattan diner he owned. He then adapted his observations of these characters into an off-off-off Broadway play called "Scraping Bottom". 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 Eyewitness (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

truths moviemakers tell themselves
13 May 2004 | by saicalumSee all my reviews

George Segal's career encompasses a large body of work, spanning decades. I've seen only a few of his movies. "The Hot Rock" was a great ensemble comedy. "Terminal Man", timely and dark, pegs the other end of the spectrum. It's safe to say the 1970s were about challenging the Old Guard. In Hollywood, this meant reinvention and the search for Truth begun anew. From industry insiders all the way down to you and me it's understood "truth in film" is synonymous with or defined as risky and unprofitable, something other than standard fare. And though overused, the phrase 'they don't make 'em like that anymore' is applicable here, because "Born to Win" was produced for reasons other than profit. Its story is roughly drawn and its characters hunger for a pure, painless resolution that you know will never come by the end of the first scene. George Segal is at the center as J, a heroin addict who spends his time visualizing new plans for his next fix. All other characters within his orbit advance his desparation. There's a very palpable truth in the uncertainty the characters feel. They live, but have no lives. Segal's character has never called a shot in his life, yet he knows from years of experience how it will turn out, with him behind the 8-ball. Karen Black plays the love interest who extends to him the hope of salvation, only to be swept under. Hector Elizondo, Robert De Niro, Paula Prentiss and JJ's main junkie pal Billy (Jay Fletcher) exist to keep the downward spiral swirling. A refreshing and enjoyable film for people who feel a nostalgia for challenging, resonant stories that strike a chord as pure as a tuning fork.


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