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16 Canny Facts About The Jerk

The Jerk is one of those movies that seem entirely made of catchphrases, like Airplane! and The Princess Bride. “You mean I’m going to stay this color?” Fans know that those catchphrases are just shorthand for an entire funny scene that other fans will recall and laugh. “There are snails on her plate!” But even the most avid fan of The Jerk can learn a few things about what went on behind the production. “See a doctor and get rid of it.”  

1. STEVE MARTIN BASED THE FILM OFF A LINE FROM HIS STAND-UP.

The film proposal was based on Martin’s “It wasn’t always easy for me; I was born a poor black child” routine. Navin saying he doesn’t need anything, then picking up different items he does need, is also from his act.

5. THE JERK CAME FROM DOSTOYEVSKY.

"It needs to be something short, yet have the feeling of an epic tale," Martin said to his director, Carl Reiner, one day. "Like Dostoyevsky's The Idiot, but not that. Like The Jerk."

6. THE ROLE OF MARIE WAS WRITTEN FOR BERNADETTE PETERS.

Martin and Peters were an item by the time filming began. They met in 1977, when they were both on the Kenny Rogers celebrity softball team. A few months later, Martin asked her out after they taped an episode of Hollywood Squares together.

Read more trivia about the 1979 film The Jerk at mental_floss. “The new phonebook's here!”


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