The Jerk is a 1979 film about an imbecilic white man who was adopted by a black family in Mississippi. At his 18th birthday, his family reveals to him he's really an adopted white man. He therefore decides to discover the outside world by travelling to St. Louis. During his trip, everyone exploits his naivety, but eventually a simple invention brings him a fortune.
- Directed by Carl Reiner. Story by Steve Martin & Carl Gottlieb. Screenplay by Steve Martin, Carl Gottlieb & Michael Elias
- Good luck. The Lord loves a working man, don't trust whitey, see a doctor and get rid of it. Bye Grandma!
- These cans are defective!
- The new phonebook's here, the new phonebook's here!
- Marie, are you awake? Good. You look so beautiful and peaceful, you almost look dead. I'm glad because there is something that has always been very difficult for me to say. I slit the sheet, the sheet I slit, and on the slitted sheet I sit. I've never been relaxed enough around anyone to be able to say that. You give me confidence in myself. I know we've only known each other four weeks and three days, but to me it seems like nine weeks and five days. The first day seemed like a week and the second day seemed like five days and the third day seemed like a week again and the fourth day seemed like eight days and the fifth day you went to see your mother and that seemed just like a day and then you came back and later on the sixth day, in then evening, when we saw each other, that started seeming like two days, so in the evening it seemed like two days spilling over into the next day and that started seeming like four days, so at the end of the sixth day on into the seventh day, it seemed like a total of five days. And the sixth day seemed like a week and a half. I have it written down, but I can show it to you tomorrow if you want to see it. Anyway, I've decided that tomorrow, when the time is right, I'm going to ask you to marry me, if that's o.k. with you. Just don't say anything. (no answer) You've made me very happy.
- For one dollar I'll guess your weight, your height, or your sex.
- Well I'm gonna go then. And I don't need any of this. I don't need this stuff, and I don't need you. I don't need anything except this.
- [picks up an ashtray]
- And that's it and that's the only thing I need, is this. I don't need this or this. Just this ashtray. And this paddle game, the ashtray and the paddle game and that's all I need. And this remote control. The ashtray, the paddle game, and the remote control, and that's all I need. And these matches. The ashtray, and these matches, and the remote control and the paddle ball. And this lamp. The ashtray, this paddle game and the remote control and the lamp and that's all I need. And that's all I need too. I don't need one other thing, not one - I need this. The paddle game, and the chair, and the remote control, and the matches, for sure. And this. And that's all I need. The ashtray, the remote control, the paddle game, this magazine and the chair.
- [walking outside]
- And I don't need one other thing, except my dog.
- [dog growls]
- I don't need my dog.
- 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.
- [singing] I'm picking out a Thermos for you. Not an ordinary Thermos for you. But the extra best Thermos that you can buy, with vinyl and stripes and a cup built right in.
- First I get my name in the phone book and now I'm on your ass. You know, I'll bet more people see that than the phone book.
- Good Lord — I've heard about this — cat juggling!
Stop! Stop! Stop it! Stop it! Stop it! Good.
Father, could there be a God that would let this happen?
How much do you want?
- Watching televised "cat juggling" before making a donation to a priest.
- Sniper: Die, you random son of a bitch.
[shoots at Navin]
- Sniper: DIE, GAS PUMPER!
- Mother: Navin, it's your birthday, and it's time you knew. You're not our natural-born child.
- Navin R. Johnson: You mean I'm going to stay this color??
- Mother: I'd love you if you were the color of a baboon's ass.
- Hotel Guest: Don't call the dog lifesaver. Call him shithead.
- Gas Station Attendant: Boy, get to work in there!
- Navin R. Johnson: But sir, I don't even work here.
- Gas Station Attendant: Not even for $1.10 an hour?
- Harry Hartounian: Boy, I wish I could get that excited about nothing.
- Navin R. Johnson: Nothing? Are you kidding? Page 73 - Johnson, Navin R.! I'm somebody now! Millions of people look at this book every day! This is the kind of spontaneous publicity - your name in print - that makes people. I'm in print! Things are going to start happening to me now.
[Stan Fox's glasses keep slipping off]
- Stan Fox: Damn these glasses.
- Navin R. Johnson: Yes, sir.
[to the glasses]
- Navin R. Johnson: I damn thee.
- Navin R. Johnson: Why are you crying? And why are you wearing that old dress?
- Marie Kimble Johnson: Because I just heard a song on the radio that reminded me of the way we were.
- Navin R. Johnson: What was it?
- Marie Kimble Johnson: "The Way We Were."
- Navin R. Johnson: I'm gonna bounce back and when I do I'm gonna buy you a diamond so big it's gonna make you puke.
- Marie Kimble Johnson: I don't wanna puke.
- Navin R. Johnson:Things are gonna start happening to me now.
[Crazy guy with gun scrolls through a phone book]
- Sniper: Johnson, Navin R... Sounds like a typical bastard.
[a sniper keeps missing Navin and hitting cans of motor oil]
- Navin R. Johnson: He hates these cans. Stay away from the cans.
[Navin works as a weight guesser in a circus. One night a fellow circus worker, Patty the bike rider, takes him to a bike ride and then gets him to enter her trailer]
- Navin R. Johnson: What a great place! You know, you can tell so much about a person from the way they live. Just looking around here I can tell...you're a genuinely dirty person.
- Navin R. Johnson (holding the helmet she gave him earlier): What do I do with this?
- Patty Bernstein (taking the helmet and throwing it across the trailer): Oh, you keep it there.
- Navin R. Johnson (holding also leftovers from a corn dog): Where's your garbage?
- Patty Bernstein (taking Navin's corn dog and throwing it across the trailer as well): there.
- Patty Bernstein (lying down on her bed): You know what I'd like to do?
- Navin R. Johnson: What?
- Patty Bernstein: Guess...your weight.
- Navin R. Johnson: Hey, that would be interesting for me, no one has tried to guess my weight! You see, I guess their weight so it's sort of a...
- Patty Bernstein: Put your arms up.
- Navin R. Johnson: This will give me a whole different perspective on this.
[Patty squeezes Navin's backside]
- Navin R. Johnson (starts getting nervous): Hey! You're really trying to be accurate!
- Navin R. Johnson: Is it getting hot in here?
[The view switch to the outside of the trailer, as we still hear their voices]
- Navin R. Johnson (suddenly yelling in a mixture of shock and excitement): Wait a minute - what's happening to my special purpose!?
- Patty Bernstein (in a passionate voice): What's your special purpose?
- Navin R. Johnson (still yelling): Well, when I was a kid my mom told me... there goes my special purpose! And someday I'd find out what my special purpose was!
- Patty Bernstein: Today's the day!
- Navin R. Johnson: (moaning as we see the whole trailer shakes from the outside): Hey, this is like a ride!
[Patty laughts in wicked voice]
[On the porch of Navin's old house]
- Grandmother (reading a letter Navie sent his family): My dear family, guess what. Today I found out what my special purpose is for. Gosh what a great time I had. I wish my whole family could have been here with me. Maybe some other time as I intend to do this a lot. Every chance I get. I think next week I'll be able to send some more money as I may have extra work. My friend Patty promised me a blow job. Your loving son, Navin. (she stops reading) And he's got the kisses here.
- Father: That Patty must be a sweet girl.
- Mother: God bless her.
- He was a poor black sharecropper's son who never dreamed he was adopted.
- From rags to riches... to rags.
- Steve Martin — Navin R. Johnson/Cat Juggler/Pig Eye Jackson/Engineer Fred (also as Pig Eye Jackson)
- Bernadette Peters — Marie Kimble Johnson
- Catlin Adams — Patty Bernstein
- Jackie Mason — Harry Hartouinian
- Carl Reiner — Himself
- M. Emmet Walsh — The Sniper