Jinxed! (1982 film)

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Jinxed! (also known as Jinxed on promotional media) is a 1982 American comedy film starring Bette Midler, Rip Torn and Ken Wahl. Directed by Don Siegel,[3] the veteran filmmaker would suffer a heart attack during the troubled production. This would be Siegel's final film.

Jinxed Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDon Siegel
Produced byHerb Jaffe
Screenplay byFrank D. Gilroy
David Newman
Story byFrank D. Gilroy
Music byBruce Roberts
Miles Goodman
CinematographyVilmos Zsigmond
Edited byDouglas Stewart
Herb Jaffe Productions
United Artists
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • October 22, 1982 (1982-10-22)
Running time
103 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$13.4 million[1]
Box office$2,869,638[2]


Bonita Friml is a Las Vegas lounge singer. Her husband, Harold Benson, is a cigar-smoking recreational gambler with a long winning streak. It seems that he cannot lose to one blackjack dealer in particular: a young man named Willie Brodax. When the casino notices Willie's losing streak, they fire him, figuring that he's jinxed. Willie then lands another blackjack-dealing job in Reno, and Harold follows him there, forcing Bonita to leave behind her lucrative singing gig to go with him.

When Willie sees that Harold is now in Reno, Willie reports Harold to security, but they find no cheating on Harold's part. Milt Hawkins, who works with Willie at the casino, suggests that he "get a piece of" Harold, the way Harold "got a piece of" him. Willie starts following Harold around and eventually finds his and Bonita's trailer. Willie then encounters Bonita, and the two of them end up falling in love. Then she tells him that she is tired of living with Harold and wants to do away with him. She tries to get Willie to help with the murder plot, but he is hesitant. When she insists, he agrees to help her, on one condition: if he can break the jinx, the murder will be called off.

When the fateful day arrives, Harold shows up to play blackjack against Willie as usual. Harold's winning streak continues, but just when he has wagered every last dollar on one final hand, a woman sitting next to him gets annoyed by the cigar he's been smoking for good luck. She yanks the cigar away from him and extinguishes it, much to his chagrin. When he hits on his blackjack hand, he makes 20, but a surprisingly calm Willie manages to get 21, thus finally beating Harold. Willie has broken the jinx, and Harold is now flat broke. But when Willie phones Bonita to call off the murder plot, she doesn't pick up.

When Harold arrives home, he pretends that he had won big so that Bonita won't know that they're broke. But while he's in the shower, he is so distraught that he commits suicide by sticking his finger in an open light-bulb socket. Not long after, Willie arrives, sees Bonita hovering over the dead body, and assumes that she had killed her husband. She assures Willie that it was a suicide, which makes him say how sorry he is that he had beaten Harold. When Bonita hears this and learns that Harold lost everything, she begins to panic. Willie reminds her of the life insurance money she is sure to get. But she points out that the insurance policy had a suicide clause, which now prevents her from collecting. So she and Willie decide to make Harold's death look like an accident.

Willie drives off towing Bonita's trailer behind him and, while stopped in a remote location, puts Harold's corpse behind the wheel of the truck. Willie rolls the truck and trailer into a ravine, then heads back into town. When police discover the crashed vehicle, they conclude that Harold must have died in an accident, meaning that Bonita can now receive the insurance money. But when she goes to file the claim, she learns that Harold had allowed the policy to lapse, thus dashing any hope of her getting any benefits. But Harold did leave her a letter he wrote, which sends her on a scavenger hunt for various clues that will tell her how to get the money she'll need. The clues she finds end up spelling out "J-O-N-A-H," as in Jonah, the Biblical prophet who was infamously jinxed in the Old Testament.

Knowing what this means, Bonita heads to the casino, sits down at Willie's table, and begins to play blackjack. During her gameplay, she smokes the same kind of cigar that Harold always smoked for good luck. She goes on a winning streak of her own, upsetting Willie and his supervisors, who fear that his jinx has returned. After he is fired from this job, he drives away in his car, only to find Bonita hiding in the back seat waiting for him. She says she'd like him to join her in a new scheme she just concocted, where he goes from casino to casino working as a dealer, and they split the money they'll get after she wins all the casinos' dough playing against him.



The film is based on the 1980 novel The Edge by Frank D. Gilroy. He sold the film rights to the Ladd Company at Warner Bros. intending to direct; Ladd then sold the project to Herb Jaffe at United Artists for $300,000 and Jaffe hired David Newman to rewrite it. A UA production executive suggested Bette Midler for the lead and she asked for Don Siegel to direct. The script was rewritten by Jerry Blatt, Carol Rydall, Midler and Siegel. During development it was also known as The Jackpot and Hot Streak. Gilroy had his name removed from the film and was credited as "Burt Blessing".[1]

Filming started on May 5, 1981[citation needed] and took place at Harrah's Lake Tahoe, Lake Tahoe, MGM Grand Reno and MGM studios.[citation needed]

Siegel had been a mentor of director Sam Peckinpah, who was having difficulty finding assignments in the film industry due to his most recent troubled production. Siegel offered Peckinpah a chance to return to filmmaking with 12 days of second unit directing work on Jinxed. Peckinpah accepted, and his collaboration with was noted within the industry. While Peckinpah's work was uncredited, it would lead to his hiring as the director of his final film, The Osterman Weekend (1983).[4]

In addition to Siegel's health problems, Midler and Wahl reportedly fought viciously throughout the filming, making no secret of their open hostility towards one another. Wahl described to the press how much he disliked kissing Midler. Years later, Midler would state that Siegel was also hostile towards her. In turn, Siegel said the experience of working with Midler was unpleasant. When asked by United Artists executive Steven Bach why he didn't quit, Siegel replied, "Because then I wouldn't get my fee. Why not fire me?"[5]

Lalo Schifrin composed and recorded what would have been his sixth score for Siegel on Jinxed, but it was rejected by the studio despite Siegel's objections.[6]

The film received an "R" rating in the United States.


Released to theaters on October 22, 1982, the movie was a box office failure.[1]

Critic Roger Ebert gave the film 1.5 stars out of a possible 4. He wrote, "This is a messed-up movie that throws away what few opportunities it has to entertain us, and gets totally lost in a plot that starts as comedy and moves through farce on its way to paralysis." Ebert added that Midler is such a talented singer that it was implausible to believe that her character was an unsuccessful performer, but her music numbers still supplied most of the film's few highlights.[7]

DVD releaseEdit

The 2004 DVD release of the movie includes the original theatrical trailer, which includes a fraction of a deleted scene: Midler, wearing her mourning gown, quickly tries to get back into the car while it's already hooked up in the carwash system.


  1. ^ a b c Nat Segaloff, Final Cuts: The Last Films of 50 Great Directors, Bear Manor Media 2013 p 266-269
  2. ^ Jinxed! at Box Office Mojo
  3. ^ "Jinxed". TCM database. Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved February 25, 2016.
  4. ^ Weddle, David (1994). If They Move...Kill 'Em!. Grove Press. pp. 534–535. ISBN 0-8021-3776-8. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ Bach, Steven. Final Cut: Dreams and Disasters in the Making of Heaven's Gate. p. 396. ISBN 0-688-04382-8
  6. ^ Los Angeles Times 1982.
  7. ^ Roger Ebert (January 1, 1982). "Jinxed!". rogerebert.com.

External linksEdit