Side-burned hepcat Jay Jay (George Segal) learnt his effortless charm while dressing the hair of the ladies of New York City, but he’s given up his curling tongs for life as a heroin-addicted petty thief.
While his wife etches out a living as a smack whore, Jay Jay runs around trying to steal safes with junk buddy Billy Dynamite (Jay Fletcher).
Things look up when the rich, kooky, folk-singing hippie Parm (Karen Black) catches him trying to steal her car and invites him up to her place to lick her arms. His luck runs out though when cops lock him in a tumble drier until he agrees to help set up his supplier, The Geek (Hector Elizondo).
Wise to the sting, The Geek cuts off Jay Jay’s supply, leaving him all alone while Billy Dynamite shoots up battery acid and the peeved cops – one of whom is played by a young Robert De Niro (pictured at right) who shows little star potential at this stage – plant drugs on Parm and lock her away for eternity.
Paula Prentiss appears for less than five minutes and British actress Sylvia Syms crops up as a cashier in the diner. The real star of the film is New York City, with the dirty streets of Manhattan amplifying the film’s theme of lost souls getting chewed up by an unforgiving universe.
Marcia Jean Kurtz
Robert De Niro