“They say I’m a charmer — that I charm the people I hustle.”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
He whines that nothing ever goes right for him in life, but why should it? Meanwhile, everything about his new relationship with Karen Black’s “Parm” feels contrived, starting from the moment she stupidly picks him up in her own car as he’s attempting to hijack it (hello? how DUMB can you get?).
She insists almost immediately that she’s really “into him”, yet there’s absolutely no reason why she should be; while there’s potential here for portraying an interesting relationship between an addict and a non-addict who’s desperately curious about the life of drug use (Panic in Needle Park, anyone?), that’s merely hinted at rather than exploited fully.
There are a few cleverly bizarre scenes throughout that elevate one’s interest temporarily, and show evidence of Passer’s absurdist sensibility: Segal attempting (unsuccessfully) to hide from a cop in a laundromat:
… and Segal attempting (successfully) to escape from the clutches of some drug dealers through creative flashing.
But ultimately, by the end of this inevitably bleak story, the main point one has taken away is that the world of drug addiction and dealing is brutally dog-eat-dog — not exactly an earth-shattering revelation.
Note: Robert De Niro has all of maybe 10 minutes of screentime in a tiny role as one of two cops shadowing Segal:
When the film went into public domain and random copies were produced for sale on DVD, De Niro’s face was marketed to fill the entire cover, leading would-be viewers (presumably De Niro fans) down the garden-path. Paula Prentiss has just as little screentime; she’s believable if underused as Segal’s sorry sack of an ex-wife.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments: