Cast & Crew
After causing the death of the girl he loves, Jennifer De Silva, by an accidental heroin overdose, wealthy young dilettante Marcus Rottner sits in his New Jersey flat grief-stricken and unsure of how to dispose of the body. Having maintained a tape-recorded account of his relationship with Jenny, Marcus anxiously updates his reflections with the stunning abruptness of her death and his new identity as a murderer. When the doorbell interrupts his musings, Marcus panics and carries Jenny into the bathroom before admitting his older sister Selma. Angered that Marcus has broken a lunch date with her, Selma voices her concern over Marcus's growing isolation and, when he refuses to allow her to use the bathroom, wonders if he should consult a psycho-therapist. Annoyed, Marcus forces Selma to depart, then hides Jenny's body in his antique harpsichord. On his way to consult his best friend, Sigmund Ornstein, Marcus recalls meeting Jenny: Several months earlier, Marcus, who does not work but lives off of the generous monthly income from a family trust fund, makes another tour of Europe. In Venice he is attracted to a beautiful, blonde young woman balancing on a bridge railing and learns that she is a similarly bored, disenchanted, wealthy American. Jenny's impulsive nature enchants Marcus and the couple spends the rest of the day together. That evening, Jenny is disappointed to learn that Marcus does not have any marijuana and despite his promises to provide it, she returns to her hotel room. The next morning, Marcus watches in disappointment as Jenny, her mother and step-father make an early departure. A few weeks later Marcus, a New Yorker, takes a cab to Jenny's wealthy family home on Oyster Bay, Long Island. Surprised by his visit Jenny reveals that she is alone as her mother has gone to Acapulco. Marcus invites Jenny to the lavish apartment left him by his grandfather Max and confesses that the old man made the family fortune by racketeering. Jenny is impressed by the apartment's decor, but upon learning Marcus has nothing more than several marijuana joints, grows despondent and slips away without his noticing. In the present, after Marcus arranges to meet Sigmund at his apartment, he returns home to find Selma waiting with psychiatrist Sergei Wasserman. Despite Selma's insistence that her brother's behavior has grown increasingly erratic and Marcus's brash acknowledgement that he is a murderer, Wasserman remains unconvinced that he needs help and soon departs with Selma. Sigmund then arrives and the two friends carry Jenny's sheet-draped body to the trunk of Marcus' sports car. When Sigmund expresses astonishment at the indifference of people around them, Marcus cynically acknowledges society's disregard for everything. Later, as Marcus drives down the highway alone hoping to deposit Jenny's body in an obscure location, he gets a flat tire. A jovial van driver stops to offer assistance, causing Marcus several tense moments in an effort to retrieve the spare tire from the trunk while keeping Jenny's body hidden. Resuming his trip, Marcus returns to his memories of Jenny: Marcus telephones Jenny in Oyster Bay asking to see her, but declaring that it is her birthday, Jenny refuses until he vows to bring her some hashish. Marcus then contacts drug dealer Larry Dolci and afterward, hires a cab driven by gypsy-hippie Mardigian to take him to Oyster Bay. Finding Jenny with two hippies who are serenading her, Marcus offers her the hash, but she is indifferent and asks him to leave. Realizing the singers have provided Jenny with heroin, Marcus attempts to stop them from injecting her, but they beat him up. After the singers run off, Marcus is horrified when the stoned Jenny climbs on the rooftop and falls off. Cushioned by the trees around the house, Jenny is unhurt, but Marcus promises to help her overcome her empty existence. The couple returns to Italy, but Jenny finds no solace in Venice. Marcus takes her to the Jewish ghetto but when he feels a compulsion to go into a synagogue, Jenny waits outside, then flees the city altogether, leaving behind a tape recorder telling Marcus she cannot get emotionally involved with him. Disheartened, Marcus returns to America, where he moves out of the extravagant apartment to a more modest New Jersey flat and does not see Jenny for several weeks. In the present, Marcus visits Dolci to ask him for recommendations on disposing of Jenny, and the dealer tells him of a deserted area near the river. Shortly after Marcus reaches the desolate spot, however, three bikers approach him, but as they grow menacing and demand money, a motorcycle policeman arrives. Marcus lies to the policeman that the bikers helped fix his car and flees hastily. Driving away, Marcus resumes his tape-recorded memoirs and notes wryly that his time with Jenny's body marks the longest time they have spent together. Marcus then recalls the last time he saw Jenny: One afternoon, Marcus is startled when Jenny comes to his apartment. After explaining that she has gone around the world but remains unfocused and unhappy, Jenny asks if she might stay with Marcus for a while. Delighted, Marcus readily agrees and offers to cook her a meal. While he enthusiastically prepares the food, Marcus is unaware that Jenny has consumed a large amount of drugs. Soon after, she grows hysterical, then walks out on the balcony and threatens to throw herself off. Frightened, Marcus manages to grab Jenny, but she thrashes about and demands he give her the heroin that she has brought. Hoping to calm her, Marcus agrees and injects her with the fatal dose. In the present, Marcus finds himself chased down the freeway by a group of hippies in a red, white and blue hearse who eventually succeed in running him into a ditch, where his car catches fire. Managing to escape, Marcus watches the car burn along with Jenny's body. Weeks later, Marcus returns to Venice.
Ralph J. Pinto
Joseph G. Aulisi
Howard L. Beals
John C. Hammell
Stephen J. Lawrence
Stephen J. Lawrence
Richard L. Meyer
Marisa Luisa Rosen
Frank O. Schulz
John W. Wheeler
Jennifer on My Mind
Simon's novel was purchased for $50,000 by producer Bernard Schwartz, president of Joseph M. Schenck Productions, who held a press conference promoting the project, saying, "I want to make Heir the way it is - a real story about two youngsters born into money but who grow up without family affections and go on drugs. It is a story of today." To adapt his "story of today" for the screen, Schwarz originally hired writer Roger O. Hirson to adapt the screenplay, but Schwartz scored a coup by getting Erich Segal, then red-hot off of the blockbuster success of his novel and film adaptation of that novel Love Story (1970). United Artists got the distribution rights and a budget was preliminarily set at $2 million.
In the film, wealthy young Marcus Rottner (Michael Brandon), the grandson of a racketeer must deal with the heroin overdose of the girl he was in love with, fellow trust fund baby Jennifer De Silva (Tippy Walker). Moving back and forth between flashbacks, Marcus serves as narrator as he talks into his tape recorder about his relationship with Jenny: how they met in Venice, Italy a few months before, visiting her at her home in Oyster Bay, New York and her eventual accidental overdose. The appearance of his sister Selma (Renée Taylor), after being stood up by her brother for a lunch date, forces Marcus to act quickly to hide Jenny's body. The result comes serendipitously when some hippies run him off the road in a hearse and the car carrying Jenny's body is destroyed in flames.
Shot between late May and early August of 1970, Jennifer On My Mind was directed by Noel Black, with Erich Segal making a cameo appearance in the film in the role of a gondolier in Venice, where many of the film's locations were shot, along with New York City and New Jersey. Jennifer On My Mind was the first film for both Barry Bostwick (later to gain fame in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, 1975) and Jeff Conaway (best remembered for his roles in Grease, 1978 and the television show Taxi). Perhaps the most notable thing about Jennifer On My Mind is the appearance of an actor on the cusp of stardom, Robert De Niro. He only appears in one brief scene as Mardigian, a gypsy taxi driver, complete with a bandana and beard. Jennifer On My Mind was one of three films De Niro made in 1971, and all turned out to be disappointments. The following year, DeNiro would meet director Martin Scorsese and his career took off. Also in the cast were Steve Vinovich, Lou Gilbert, Chuck McCann and future Newhart star and director Peter Bonerz. Kim Hunter was listed in the film's credits for a short time because she had completed her scenes as Jenny's mother, but the preview in San Francisco was so bad that the producers decided to delete all of her scenes.
The cuts didn't help. Jennifer On My Mind debuted in New York City with an "R" rating on November 10, 1971 and appeared in only a few theaters for a very short time before United Artists pulled it from distribution entirely. Roger Greenspun, in his review for The New York Times wrote, "Noel Black Pretty Poison directed the film, and Erich Segal wrote it (after a novel by Roger Simon), and in the contest between Black's black humor and Segal's languorous humors both sides lose. In form, and indeed in content, Jennifer on My Mind resembles nothing so much as a satyr play to Love Story, if one were needed. But I am not sure the effect was intended, and with its hackneyed invention and incredible dialogue (and more incredible interior monologues), the film belongs to that desperate class of comedy that is almost never funny except when it doesn't mean to be. [...] In an odd way, Jennifer on My Mind is about aspirations rather than relations, and on that level it very nearly evades its absurdities to come round almost to the point of admiration."
Screen: Cruel illusion:' Jennifer on my mind' at number of houses. (1971, November 11).Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/1971/11/11/archives/screen-cruel-illusion-jennifer-on-my-mind-at-number-of-houses.html
By Lorraine LoBianco
Jennifer on My Mind
The working title of the film was Heir, which was also the title of the Roger L. Simon novel on which it was based. The opening and closing cast credits differ slightly in order. The film opens with a voice-over by "Marcus Rottner" comparing his Jewish family's immigrant experience to that of "Jennifer De Silva." Voice-over by Marcus continues throughout the film, which is told partially in flashback. Marcus also has two conversations with the ghost of his grandfather. The Hollywood Reporter review lists it at 98 minutes, although all other sources list the film's running time at 90 minutes. According to an October 1968 Hollywood Reporter news item, the rights to Simon's novel, which was his first, were initially purchased by Anthony Spinner and Barry Shear. In June 1969, a Hollywood Reporter news item noted that United Artists executive Herb Jaffe was in discussions with Joseph M. Schenck Enterprises to produce the film.
Although actress Kim Hunter is listed as a cast member in news items and production charts up to April 1971, she does not appear in the released film. According to Filmfacts, Jennifer on My Mind was edited several times before release, and after a "disastrous" preview in San Francisco, Hunter's character, Jenny's mother, was cut entirely from the film. Jennifer on My Mind marked the feature film debuts of Barry Bostwick and Jeff Conaway. According to Filmfacts and the Los Angeles Times review scriptwriter, Erich Segal made a cameo appearance in the film as a gondolier. Jennifer on My Mind was shot on location in New York City, New Jersey and Venice, Italy.
The Los Angeles Times reviewer speculated that either Simon or Segal was inspired by the true-life, 1966 case of Robert Friede, a twenty-five-year-old Annenberg publishing heir, and Celeste Crenshaw, a drug-addicted, nineteen-year-old socialite whose corpse was found in Friede's car. Friede was the son of Evelyn Annenberg Hall and her first husband, Kenneth Friede.
Released in United States Winter January 1, 1971
Released in United States Winter January 1, 1971