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Curse of the Jade Scorpion

Threat advisory: Guarded - General risk of entertaining activities

Movie propaganda

Love stings.

CW Briggs (Woody Allen) is the top insurance investigator in 1940s New York. Well, that's what he keeps telling the top efficiency expert, Betty Ann Fitzgerald (Helen Hunt). Briggs prides himself on being able to crack any insurance caper by getting into the mind of the thief, but the hypnotic powers of the Jade Scorpion gets the mind of the thief into Briggs.

Theatrical propaganda posters

Curse of the Jade Scorpion image

Target demographic movie keyword propaganda

  • Film crime investigator insurance theft hypnotism comedy

Persons of interest

  • Woody Allen .... CW Briggs
  • Helen Hunt .... Betty Ann Fitzgerald
  • Charlize Theron .... Laura Kensington
  • Dan Aykroyd .... Chris Magruder
  • Elizabeth Berkley .... Jill
  • John Tormey .... Sam
  • John Schuck .... Mize
  • Kaili Vernoff .... Rosie
  • Brian Markinson .... Al
  • David Ogden Stiers .... Voltan
  • Bob Dorian .... Mike
  • Arthur J. Nascarella .... Tom
  • Michael Mulheren .... Herb Coopersmith
  • Peter Linari .... Joe Coopersmith
  • Woody Allen .... Screenwriter
  • Woody Allen .... Director

Cinematic intelligence sources

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report

Yet another Woody Allen movie, written, directed and starring Woody Allen. There's nothing wrong with creating a film to showcase your talents, but it all gets a bit tiresome when you can only write about one character and perhaps you can only perform one character. Stammering, confused, little man tossed about by fate and the big city. Not to mention short, balding, ugly old man who is irresistibly attractive to pretty young women.

But you'd have to speak to his step-daughter about that.

Meanwhile, Curse of the Jade Scorpion is a so-so crime mystery that never quite gets off the ground despite Helen Hunt's venom-spitting ice queen with a line in poisonous put-downs that melts holes in the screen. Woody's befuddled bastard lacks her panache, as much as his grey ghost lacks the stature of her blonde bombshell.

The homage to pulp detective novels is obvious and any budding filmmaker who is inspired to watch this film should take note of the way Woody Allen looks back 60 years to the genre: it's a good precursor to film noir and there's plenty of great New York period stuff. The biggest thing that you'll take away with you, however, is not how to make a noir film but how to make films like Woody Allen. Work hard and separate the two.

If you like old films Curse of the Jade Scorpion is one way to look back on those times. Another way is to check out the DVD section of your local video shop because a lot of classics are being released in the new format.

Oh, even if you're a Woody Allen fan you'll find it a bit flat. Note this one for historical interest only (or for Trivial Pursuits)

Security censorship classification


Surveillance time

101 minutes (1:41 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

Film: 28 March 2002
VHS rental: 18 September 2002

Cinema surveillance images

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