Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

"Born to Win" Loses

Cleveland Press November 18, 1971

The movie industry is forever taking the currently "in" subject and superimposing it on other, formula formats. Drug addiction is the latest craze, and it has served well as a basis for drama, melodrama and action films.

But in "Born to Win" the form is frothy, kooky comedy, and it doesn't work. Black comedy might -- but this isn't black comedy.

The picture is peopled by the hopeless victims of hard drugs, frantic for their next fix, satisfied with the nothingness of their lives so long as they have temporarily satisfied their cravings.

Those that aren't addicts are the people who prey upon them. It's not a pretty bunch, but it is not impossible to derive some form of black comedy out of them. This picture isn't it.

George Segal plays a down-and-out junkie, forever hustling a fix. He is not so much a loser as he is a schnook, a dumb patsy who is forever being taken by others.

Not that he is above doing a little taking himself. He is forever conning and conniving.

Segal does some of the comic bits well, but over all it is a fairly hopeless role. Segal hasn't figured out what kind of guy this is, but neither did the script writer.

Karen Black is around as a non-addicted kook though basically it is her stock role of the overly amiable easy pickup.

Paula Prentiss, who gets star billing, is on for all of three or four minutes. She is a heavily made up, over-the-hill addict who is Segal's former wife driven into prostitution because of the habit.

In "Born to Win" people are hurt and killed and emotionally torn apart. As frothy comedy this one was born to lose.