Black SplatThe Jerk (1979)

"Die Milkface!...Die Gas Pumper!"

The Jerk - Crazed gunman shoots at Navin Johnson

Description: Crazed statements of a loony survivalist (M. Emmet Walsh) who indiscriminately targets gas station attendant Navin R. Johnson (Steve Martin) with rifle fire in the motion picture The Jerk (1979).

As the crazy gunman seeks someone to kill, he scans a telephone book and randomly picks a name for his victim. "Johnson, Navin R... sounds like a typical bastard."

Climbing a hillside across from a gas station at 238 1/8 Elm Street where Navin lives and works, the gunman points his gun and fires while shouting "DEAD SINNER! SAY YOUR PRAYERS HALF-BREED! DIE MILK FACE! DIE GAS PUMPER! DIE YOU BASTARD! MILK FACE BASTARD! SUCK MY TOE!"

As the bullets whiz pass Navin, they hit cans of oil stacked in front of the gas station. At first, Navin thinks the cans are exploding because they are defective until his boss, Harry (Jackie Mason) yells, “We don't have defective cans. We have a defective person out there.” Coming to the wrong conclusion, Navin panics and shouts, “He hates these cans! Stay away from the cans!”

To evade the gunman and draw fire away from his boss, Navin gets in one of the cars at the station, calls for his dog, Shit-head to come with him and slowly drives away (there are no tires just rims on the car) and seeks refuge in a traveling carnival where he gets a job and learns about life, love and how to guess a person's weight.

The beginning of the film starts with Navin Johnson dressed in a soiled bath robe and sitting on a staircase in an alley after losing his fortune earned from a faulty invention called the Opti-grab (a $10 million class action suit stripped him of his wealth). As he pathetically looks at the viewing audience, Navin interjects:

"Huh? I am NOT a bum. I'm a jerk. I once had wealth, power, and the love of a beautiful woman. Now I only have two things: my friends, and... uh... my thermos. Huh? My story? Okay. It was never easy for me. I was born a poor black child. I remember the days, sittin' on the porch with my family, singin' and dancin' down in Mississippi..." - Navin R. Johnson

The Jerk - Navin Johnson with family

The dim-witted Navin was raised by a family of black sharecroppers. When Navin decides to leave home and search the world for his “special purpose, his adopted family gives their naive white boy these three pieces of advice:

        1. “The Lord loves a working man”
        2. "Don’t trust Whitey”
        3. “See a doctor and get rid of it.”

Note: In the film Shaft (1971), Richard Roundtree as private eye John Shaft informs a friend, “When you lead your revolution, whitey better be standing still because you don’t run worth a damn no more.”

And on a segment of SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE Eddie Murphy played convict Tyrone Green who recites poetry like “C-I-L-L my lanlord” and “I Hate White People Because They Is W-I-T-E” (a takeoff of a black Utah prison convict character originally performed by comedian Garrett Morris on SNL who sang the blues song “I’m gonna get me a shotgun, and kill me all the whiteys I see” during an audition for “The Lifer’s Follies” talent show).

The Jerk -  Movie Poster

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