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Film / The Curse of the Jade Scorpion

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Left to right: C.W., Voltan and Betty Ann.

The Curse of the Jade Scorpion is an American crime comedy film written by, directed by, and starring Woody Allen. It was released on August 21, 2001.

The story, set in 1940 New York, follows C.W. Briggs (Allen), an insurance investigator, and Betty Ann Fitzgerald (Helen Hunt), an efficiency expert. Both are hypnotized by Voltan (David Ogden Stiers), a crooked stage magician, into stealing jewels from the wealthy Kensington family. The movie details the ensuing robberies and the investigation and attempts to overcome the hypnosis. Since this is still a Woody Allen movie, there's a strong subplot focused on the relationships of C.W., Betty Ann, and their boss Chris Magruder (Dan Aykroyd), who is having an extramarital affair with Betty Ann. Also mixed up in the story are C.W.'s coworkers George (Wallace Shawn) and Al (Brian Markinson) and the Kensingtons' vampish daughter Laura (Charlize Theron).


  • Benevolent Boss: Magruder has his flaws, but he spends a long time defending Briggs against any accusations. And once he's finally convinced that Briggs is the thief, he still talks about him sympathetically, saying that it couldn't have been easy putting up with all that temptation for so many years.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Played for Laughs with Briggs, paticularly when the hypnosis kicks in when he's with Laura Kensington. She's literally in nothing but a trenchcoat on C.W.'s bed when he politely asks her to leave. When C.W. gets his memory back he refuses to believe that he walked away from her.
  • Chekhov's Hobby: George's fondness for card tricks and other magic stuff helps him figure out the hypnosis at the end and free Briggs from it.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Voltan is willing to frame people for his crimes, but he isn't a murderer, as shown when he has Briggs and Betty Ann at gunpoint in the final scene.
  • Exit, Pursued by a Bear: Voltan does an "exit pursued by the police" variant and its unrevealed if he got away.
  • Femme Fatale: Laura Kensington is a sendup of the type.
  • Genre Throwback: To '30s Screwball Comedy amd '40s Film Noir.
  • Hypno Fool: Both C.W. and Betty Ann are victims of this trope.
  • I Reject Your Reality: C.W. when confronted by Magruder with his own shoeprints.
  • Love Triangle: C.W. loves Betty Ann; Betty Ann loves Magruder; Magruder's still married (although unusually he isn't lying about his plans to eventually leave his wife).
  • Manchurian Agent: The premise of the film.
  • Non-Protagonist Resolver: It's C.W.'s fellow investigators George and Al (the only ones besides Jill to believe in his innocence throughout the whole film) who figure out that he was hypnotized, and who the real thief is.
  • Sexophone: When Laura Kensington (a first-class Femme Fatale) shows up, sax music shows right up with her.
  • Sexy Secretary: Jill and Rosie the secretaries wear form-flattering clothes, albeit in a downplayed, 1940s fashion.
    Al: [Watching Jill walk away]: My God, that girl's got a body that won't quit!
    C.W.: Quit? It won't take five minutes off for a coffee break.
  • Sibling Team: The Coopersmith brothers, two rival detectives.
  • Stage Magician: Voltan the Great.
  • Trigger Phrase: Madagascar. Constantinople. Apparently Voltan wasn't a fraud after all.

Alternative Title(s): Curse Of The Jade Scorpion