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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]

Jumpin' Jack Flash
Jumpin jack flash.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byPenny Marshall
Produced byLawrence Gordon
Joel Silver
Screenplay byDavid H. Franzoni
J. W. Melville
Patricia Irving
Christopher Thompson
Story byDavid H. Franzoni
Music byThomas Newman
CinematographyMatthew F. Leonetti
Edited byMark Goldblatt
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$29,844,101

The soundtrack includes two versions of the song "Jumpin' Jack Flash": the original by the Rolling Stones, and a remake by Aretha Franklin heard over the end credits. Franklin's version was not included on the film's soundtrack album but was released as a single.


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 boss, James Page.

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. Terry delivers the message to Jeremy Talbot, who dismisses her message.

Jack sends her 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.

A computer technician comes to repair her terminal, but when Terry questions his identity, he vanishes. When she enters a taxi upon leaving Jack's apartment, she is frightened to find the technician 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. Van Meter successfully 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.

Jack deduces Harry is dead, then sends Terry to break into the Consulate's computer. Conning her way in, she runs into Liz, who helps her reach the computer. Talbot deactivates the computer link before Jack receives his contact's name.

Terry is rebuffed when she reaches out to Lady Sarah Billings, a former girlfriend of Jack's. Terry is then captured by the KGB. She escapes, but the police officer she runs to is the computer technician/cabbie. He drugs her, but she escapes and, in a haze, locates Sarah and makes an impassioned plea for her help. Sarah tells Terry she would rather let Jack be killed than risk losing face.

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 flee 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, 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, great Jack warmly, then the team applaudes 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, while the director’s daughter, Tracy Reiner, plays a secretary.


Production of the film, originally conceived as a vehicle for Shelley Long, was problematic. The script was troubled and would often be rewritten on the set. It began with Howard Zieff as director. However, he was replaced early in the production by Penny Marshall.[1]


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

  1. "Set Me Free" - The Pointer Sisters (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 for the Chicago Sun-Times liked Goldberg's performance but felt that she was harnessed to "an exhausted screenplay—an anthology of old ideas and worn-out clichés."[2] 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."[3] On Rotten Tomatoes it has an approval rating of 25% based on reviews from 20 critics.[4]

Even though 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.[5]

Home mediaEdit

The film was released on Blu-ray by Anchor Bay Entertainment.[6] 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. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Jumpin' Jack Flash Movie Review (1986)". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 1 September 2017.
  3. ^ Canby, Vincent. "Movie Review - - SCREEN: WHOOPI GOLDBERG IN 'JUMPIN' JACK FLASH'". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 September 2017.
  4. ^ "Jumpin' Jack Flash (1986)". Rotten Tomatoes.
  5. ^ "Jumpin' Jack Flash (1986)". Box Office Mojo.
  6. ^ "Jumpin' Jack Flash Blu-ray". Retrieved 2013-12-02.

External linksEdit