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Born to Win (1971) - Color - 90 min

LikeTelevision's Classic Movie channel is proud to present - Born to Win is a 1971 film about a junkie named J.J. - played by George Segal who tries to turn his tragic life around. Ironically, George Segal currently stars in a hit tv show - called Just Shoot Me, ... but I digress... J.J. is a classic urban druggie loser with a tattoo - Born to Win, hence the title. He tries to make one last score with his girlfriend Parm, played by Karen Black. The film also stars Robert DeNiro as an undercover cop, Paula Prentiss as Veronica, J.J.'s ex wife - who is also a junkie, Hector Elizondo as the dealer, Vivian, and Burt Young, as muscle for the criminal element. Burt Young is best known as Adrian's (played by Talia Shire) brother Paulie in the Rocky movies with Sylvester Stallone as the gritty boxer, Rocky Balboa, from Philadelphia.

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Born to Win
Directed by - Ivan Passer

(1971) - Color - 90 min
Born to Win is a classic period piece, complete with really bad fashion statements - though Karen Black does look marvelous in her knitted crochet cap, and that funky urban music with lots of wah wah peddle magic. Directed by Ivan Passer - the film depicts the evils of drugs, and is depressing as stories like this don't usually turn out well, especially if the lead character is trying to get out by looking for one more score. So - if you are ready to see some great acting, bad clothes, and urban decay - this tale of George Segal in a bizarre - Just shoot me with a HOT SHOT (a lethal dose of battery acid instead of heroin) - this movie is for you.

Part one
Intro, Color, Credits etc. Jerome, a.k.a. J.J. - cons a woman in a restaurant to letting him schwatza - i.e. take the safe, which turns out bad, though he does escape. He meets Parm - Karen Black, while trying to hot wire her car. Parm, is a hooker (I think so anyway, it doesn't really say) takes J.J. home to her pad (1970s speak for abode, residence) -where he steals some stuff, before ending up in the sack, where she sees his tattoo - Born to Win.

with George Segal as the junkie J.J.

Robert DeNiro as the undercover narcotic offier

Part two
J.J. meets up with the big dealer named GEEK, or Vivian, played brilliantly by Hector Elizondo, who has a job for him. J.J. delivers a package to Stanley's, a wealthy user client of the Geek. Later, we meet J.J.'s ex-wife, Veronica, played by Paula Prentiss, at a rat hole nightclub. J.J. begs for a fix, and gets one - followed by the classic, slow motion, blurry sequence with wah wah music. On the next day, J.J. goes back to Stanley's apartment to rip him off with his partner in crime, Billy Dynamite, played by Jay Fletcher. On his way out, he gets confronted by the cops (Robert DeNiro working narcotics, undercover man)... where he pitches the dope and escapes on foot, only to be caught in the dryer of the laundry mat, on spin cycle. He cuts a deal with the cops to try and get Geek.

Burt Young as the thug, or Paulie if you are a Rocky fan

Part three
Off to the steambath - where J.J. meets up with Geek. Why do crime deals always happen in the steam room? Geek tells him that Stanley wants to kill him, but that Geek has a job for him. Then it's back to Parm's place where they eat and laugh - and then he shoots up, and steals money from Parm. Next day - off to the airport to do Geek's job and Parm wants to come too. He meets his contact at the airport and delivers the package - only to get caught by Stanley and some thugs (Burt Young and crew) - where they strip J.J. and lock him in the bedroom. J.J. gets away in a woman's bathrobe and boa - and heads off after exposing himself to a woman on the balcony. Of course - his clothing is a bit odd, though since it's the 1970's, it is nothing too strange, but he steals some clothes from a clothing store anyway.

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Born to Win
Directed by - Ivan Passer

Starring - George Segal as J.J., Karen Black as Parm, Hector Elizondo as Vivian (Geek), Robert DeNiro as the undercover narcotics officer, Paula Prentiss as Veronica, Jay Fletcher as Billy Dynamite, Burt Young as a thug, Ed Madsen as the detective,

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Karen Black as Parm

Part four
Back at Parm's apartment - they both decide to get out of the urban wasteland and take a road trip. At the beach, Parm sings J.J. her dreamy little ballad (happy happy, joy, joy) while J.J. struggles with cold turkey - and goes into withdrawl. Then they drive back to the city for one last score.

Hector Elizondo as Vivian, a.k.a. Geek, the Mr. Big drug dealer

Part five
Back with the cops - where he gets an ultimatum - set up the sting with the Geek or off to jail for twenty years of hard time. DeNiro meets the Geek - but the Geek says no deal, as he smells something fishy. Later - J.J. gets a fix from Geek - and goes off with Billy to shoot up. Billy overdoses in the elevator as the Geek gave J.J. a hot shot. Back to Parm's place - where they try to get away - only to be busted by the cops, where Parm gets carted away by the cops. J.J. goes back to the club - and gets another fix from the Geek - which is probably another lethal dose of battery acid. I did warn you about the less than happy ending... this is a classic 1970s drug filled loser story set in the pre- Rudy Giuliani era of New York city urban blight.

George Segal in a Just Shoot me pose

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J.J. and the Geek

George Segal poses for the cover of Blush on Just Shoot Me?

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Paula Prentiss as Veronica, the drug addict ex-wife

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