Jumpin' Jack Flash (film)

Jumpin' Jack Flash is a 1986 American comedy film starring Whoopi Goldberg. The film was directed by Penny Marshall in her theatrical film directorial debut.[1] The soundtrack has two versions of the song "Jumpin' Jack Flash": the original by the Rolling Stones, and a remake by Aretha Franklin in the end credits. Franklin's version was not on the film's soundtrack album but was released as a single.

Jumpin' Jack Flash
Jumpin jack flash.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byPenny Marshall
Screenplay byDavid H. Franzoni
J. W. Melville
Patricia Irving
Christopher Thompson
Story byDavid H. Franzoni
Produced byLawrence Gordon
Joel Silver
CinematographyMatthew F. Leonetti
Edited byMark Goldblatt
Music byThomas Newman
Lawrence Gordon Productions
Silver Pictures
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • October 10, 1986 (1986-10-10)
Running time
100 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$18 million
Box office$29.8 million


Terry Doolittle is a computer operator at a Manhattan bank. Though a good employee, well-liked by her co-workers, she is often chastised by her no-nonsense, imperious boss, James Page, who has little patience for Terry's unorthodox work ethics.

One evening as the rest of the co-workers are saying goodbye to their friend Jackie, who is going on maternity leave, Terry receives the message "Knock, Knock" on her screen and is contacted by a man calling himself Jumping Jack Flash, a British Intelligence agent in Eastern Europe who is being pursued by the KGB. Terry solves his riddles and determines his password is B-flat, the key in which "Jumpin' Jack Flash" is written. Jack sends her to the British Consulate to deliver a coded message to its Department C. Terry delivers the message to a man named Jeremy Talbot, who seems puzzled by her message and claims there is no Department C.

The next night, Terry tells Jack of her encounter with Talbot and he is understandably concerned about the outcome. He asks her to go to his New York apartment to retrieve a frying pan, containing his CIA contacts, who will supply an exit strategy. Meanwhile, Marty Phillips joins the staff at the bank as Jackie's replacement.

A computer technician comes to repair her terminal, but when Terry questions his identity, he vanishes. After arriving at Jack's apartment and retrieving the frying pan, she notices that someone had entered and taken her picture, which is pinned to the front door. Shaken, she runs back outside to her taxi, only to find the technician from earlier is the driver. She knocks him out with the frying pan and flees.

Terry is unable to reach the first of four contacts on the frying pan, Peter Caen, but does reach Mark Van Meter, who meets her by the East River. He is stunned to learn of what has happened to Jack and that Terry is a civilian. As they continue to talk, Van Meter notices someone coming up behind them. He quickly pushes Terry into the river, just before he is shot dead.

Terry attends Van Meter's funeral, where she meets Jack's second contact Archer Lincoln, as well as Liz Carlson, wife of third contact Harry Carlson. Lincoln dismisses Terry, but Liz informs her that Harry is with Jack.

After talking with Terry that evening, Jack deduces Harry is dead, then asks Terry to break into the Consulate's computer. Terry gets the idea to use the Queen's Anniversary Ball being held there as a cover and goes there disguised as a singer. Conning her way in, she runs into Liz, who runs interference for her when Talbot intercepts her and manages to reach the computer room and secure a contact for Jack. But the next night, while Terry is sending it, Talbot deactivates the computer link before Jack receives his contact's name. Terry goes to Liz's home to talk to her, only to discover she and her children are gone and the house is empty and deserted. She hurries out, but is cornered by a strange man and ushered to a nearby limousine where Archer Lincoln is waiting for her. Inside the car, Lincoln confirms Harry Carlson's death and tells Terry that Liz and her children have been moved from their homes and given new identities for their own safety. He then warns her to break off contact with Jack to save her life.

The following morning, Terry decides to try to contact Lady Sarah Billings, who is an old flame of Jack, and obtain a contact for Jack from her. While calling around for information from a nearby phone booth, Terry is abducted and literally dragged through the streets of Manhattan by a tow truck while still inside. She manages to escape only to be confronted by the technician from the previous nights and injected with truth serum. He manages to get a partial confession from her, but she traps him by pinning his arm inside of his car window and sending it into traffic. In a haze, she locates Sarah at Elizabeth Arden and makes an impassioned plea for her help. Sarah tells Terry she would rather let Jack be killed than risk losing face. A disgusted Terry excoriates her and leaves.

Sarah visits Terry at home, having had a change of heart, and gives her a contact, retrieved from her husband – the Consul General. After transmitting the exit plan to Jack, Terry is captured by the KGB and learns that Talbot is a mole, who deceptively provided the contact for Jack, in reality a deadly trap. Terry escapes and flees to the bank to contact Jack.

Talbot and his KGB henchmen are already there, masquerading as British bankers. Talbot orders her to tell Jack that nothing is wrong, but she tricks Talbot into sitting in an unstable chair, then fights him to reach her computer. Though one of Talbot's henchmen opens fire on the office, sending her co-workers running for cover, Terry continues typing a warning to Jack. When Carl, Talbot's other henchman, moves to kill her, he is suddenly shot by Marty. Terry bites Talbot's groin to free herself, then sends the warning to Jack. Marty reveals that he is Peter Caen, the CIA contact on the frying pan, then sends Jack a safe exit strategy.

Terry waits at the restaurant where she and Jack plan to meet, but is despondent by the time Peter arrives, at closing, to say Jack was called away. The next morning, Terry's co-workers are excited that Mr. Page is being promoted and Terry will be taking over his position. Terry is still depressed, but receives a message on her terminal from Jack. Terry berates him, but when she slams her glasses down, Jack advises against it, and Terry realizes he can see her. She turns and sees Jack for the first time. He embraces her, then asks her to dinner. Her co-workers, including Mr. Page, greet Jack warmly, then the team applauds the new couple as they leave.


In addition, a number of then current and future players from Saturday Night Live appeared in smaller roles, including Jon Lovitz, Phil Hartman (credited as Phil E. Hartmann), Jim Belushi and Michael McKean. Tracey Ullman appears in a cameo role, and the director’s daughter, Tracy Reiner, plays a secretary. Comedian Sam Kinison, who was dating director Penny Marshall at the time, was offered the role of Jack,[2] but Whoopi Goldberg nixed the deal, causing Marshall and Kinison to end their relationship and starting a bitter feud between Kinison and Goldberg.


The film was produced by Lawrence Gordon and Joel Silver under the production companies Lawrence Gordon Productions, Twentieth Century Fox, and Silver Pictures. [3]

Production of the film, originally conceived as a vehicle for Shelley Long, was problematic. The script was troubled and often was rewritten on the set. It began with Howard Zieff as director, but he was replaced early in the production by Penny Marshall.[1] Upon assuming the directorial duties, director Penny Marshall called in Marty Kurzfeld and Christopher Thompson to further rework the screenplay.[4]

Principal photography for "Jumpin' Jack Flash" began in 1985 and took place primarily in New York City. On November 8, 1985, a production chart for Daily Variety[5] announced that principal photography for the film was set to commence on November 11, 1985. Various locations in the city, including the Statue of Liberty and Central Park, were used to depict the film's different settings.

However, news items published in DV on November 22, 1985, and in Variety on November 27, 1985, revealed that creative differences arose, leading director Zieff to depart from the project after just ten days of filming in New York City. It remains uncertain whether the footage shot in New York City prior to the production shutdown was incorporated into the final version of the film.


The soundtrack album was released on LP and cassette by Mercury Records, and later reissued on compact disc by Spectrum.

  1. "Set Me Free" - René & Angela (4:23)
  2. "A Trick of the Night" - Bananarama" (4:37)
  3. "Misled" - Kool & the Gang (4:21)
  4. "Rescue Me" - Gwen Guthrie (4:32)
  5. "Hold On - Billy Branigan (4:04)
  6. "Jumpin' Jack Flash" - The Rolling Stones (3:37)
  7. "Window to the World" - Face to Face (3:21)
  8. "You Can't Hurry Love" - The Supremes (2:44)
  9. "Breaking the Code" - Thomas Newman (3:41)
  10. "Love Music" - Thomas Newman (2:47)

The original versions of "Set Me Free" (by the Pointer Sisters) and "Rescue Me" (by Fontella Bass) are heard in the film, rather than the covers on the soundtrack album.


Jumpin' Jack Flash received generally negative reviews from critics upon its release. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times praised Goldberg's performance but felt that she was harnessed to "an exhausted screenplay—an anthology of old ideas and worn-out clichés."[6] Vincent Canby of The New York Times blamed the failures of the film on its director, stating "Miss Marshall directs Jumpin' Jack Flash as if she were more worried about the decor than the effect of the performance."[7] On Rotten Tomatoes, it has an approval rating of 27% based on reviews from 22 critics, with an average rating of 4/10.[8] On Metacritic, the film received a score of 52 based on 13 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[9]

Although it was not well received by critics, the film was a modest success at the box office, opening at the #3 spot and making nearly $30 million in domestic sales.[10] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.[11]

Home mediaEdit

The film was released on Blu-ray by Anchor Bay Entertainment.[12] on May 28, 2013.


  1. ^ a b Abramowitz, Rachel (2000). Is That a Gun in Your Pocket? Women's Experience of Power in Hollywood. New York: Random House. ISBN 0-679-43754-1. pp. 296–298.
  2. ^ "Bill Kinison shares wild stories about his brother Sam Kinison, Howard Stern, and Bobcat Goldthwait". YouTube.
  3. ^ "JUMPIN' JACK FLASH". May 25, 2023.
  4. ^ "AFI CATALOG OF FEATURE FILMS". May 25, 2023.
  5. ^ "Jumpin' Jack Flash". Daily Variety. 8 Nov 1985 (8 Nov 1985): 1, 10.
  6. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Jumpin' Jack Flash Movie Review (1986)". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 1 September 2017.
  7. ^ Canby, Vincent. "Movie Review - - SCREEN: WHOOPI GOLDBERG IN 'JUMPIN' JACK FLASH'". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 September 2017.
  8. ^ "Jumpin' Jack Flash (1986)". Rotten Tomatoes.
  9. ^ "Jumpin' Jack Flash Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved September 23, 2022.
  10. ^ "Jumpin' Jack Flash (1986)". Box Office Mojo.
  11. ^ "Home". CinemaScore. Retrieved 2022-09-24.
  12. ^ "Jumpin' Jack Flash Blu-ray". Blu-ray.com. Retrieved 2013-12-02.

External linksEdit