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White Men Can't Jump

Theatrical poster for White Men Can't Jump
Directed by Ron Shelton
Produced by David V. Lester
Don Miller
Michelle Rappaport
Written by Ron Shelton
Starring Wesley Snipes
Woody Harrelson
Music by Bennie Wallace
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date(s) United States March 27, 1992
Running time 115 min.
Country United States United States
Language English

White Men Can't Jump is a 1992 film starring Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes as basketball hustlers, co-starring Rosie Perez. The film was written and directed by Ron Shelton and released in theaters on March 27, 1992 by 20th Century Fox.



Billy Hoyle (Harrelson) is a former college-level basketball player who makes a living hustling streetballers who assume he cannot play well because he is white. The hustle is even more provocative because, although he appears to be "a chump" and "a geek," Hoyle never downplays his skill to increase the stakes; it is the African-American basketball players' own assumptions that are at the root of the hustle.

Such a talented but arrogant player is Sidney Deane (Wesley Snipes), a star on the Venice Beach, California outdoor courts. He is humiliated twice by Billy in front of his friends, losing a wager. But he also recognizes a good thing when he sees one and immediately begins to think of a number of ways Billy can be useful to him.

Billy and his girlfriend Gloria Clemente (Rosie Perez) are on the run from out-of-state mobsters because of a gambling debt. A voracious reader, making note of obscure facts, Gloria's goal in life is to be a contestant on the television show Jeopardy! and make a fortune. Sidney's mission in life is to buy a house for his family outside the rough Baldwin Village, Crenshaw District neighborhood of Los Angeles.

He talks Billy into a partnership and they hustle other players for money. But when they unexpectedly lose a game, it turns out that Sidney has double-crossed Billy by deliberately playing badly alongside him, making Billy lose $1,700 to a group of Sidney's friends.

Gloria is incensed at Billy's blowing his money again and is also suspicious of how it happened. On the way to Sidney's apartment, she tells Billy: "Sometimes when you win, you really lose. And sometimes when you lose, you really win. And sometimes when you win or lose, you actually tie and sometimes when you tie, you actually win or lose. Winning or losing is all one organic globule, from which one extracts what one needs."

Once they get to Sidney's and appeal to his wife for fairness, Gloria and Sidney's partners agree to share some of the money. Sidney and Billy also are willing to team up again for a major 2-on-2 outdoor tournament.

While they bicker incessantly, Sidney and Billy do win the grand prize of $5,000, largely due to Billy's ability to disrupt his opponents' concentration. Billy's most notable claim is that he is "in the zone," a state of mind in which nothing can get in his way.

Sidney is pleased with the outcome, yet he can't help mocking Billy about his inability to slam dunk. "White men can't jump," he notes. Billy, however, claims that dunking the basketball is unnecessary grand-standing, while expressing a belief that guys like Sidney would "rather look good and lose than look bad and win."

Billy insists that he can indeed dunk but Sidney clearly disagrees. Infuriated, Billy claims he is willing to bet his $2,500 on his ability to dunk. Sidney accepts and gives him three chances. Billy fails, losing the $2,500. When he tells Gloria, she leaves him.

Gloria dreams of appearing on the quiz show Jeopardy! and she devotes nearly every waking moment to memorizing obscure facts. Fortunately, one of Sidney's friends works as a security guard at the TV studio which produces the show. He agrees to get her on the show, if Billy can sink a half court hook shot, which he does. To begin, Gloria stumbles over sports questions (notably naming Babe Ruth as the NBA's leading rebounder), but makes a comeback with a pet topic, "Foods beginning with the letter 'Q'". She wins $14,100 on her first episode. Gloria and Billy get back together. The set used was from Jeopardy's first season with the 1991-96 set and was taped at stage 9 of Hollywood Center Studios.

Billy sings Gloria a song he has composed to win her back. Everything in his world is all right again, but now it is Sidney who suffers misfortune and needs a favor. He and his family are burglarized and become more desperate for money. Billy is supposed to get a steady job and settle down, but Sidney needs him to play basketball for money again and use his share of Gloria's take.

Gloria warns that if Billy gambles with her money "we are through." Billy feels he must honor the obligation he owes Sidney for getting Gloria on "Jeopardy" in the first place. They play a final game against two hoops legends of the L.A. scene, "The King" and "Duck." In a very tight game, Sidney and Billy prevail, the winning points coming when Sidney lobs an "alley-oop" pass to Billy, who dunks it.

Returning home happily, Billy discovers Gloria has kept her word and left him for good. He is crushed. Then the mobsters who are after Billy track him down and he pays off his debts. Billy once again asks Sidney to set him up with a real job. As the closing credits are about to roll, Billy launches into yet another basketball argument with Sidney and they are right back where they began.



White Men Can't Jump grossed $14,711,124 in 1,923 theaters in its opening weekend, with a total gross of $76,253,806 in the U.S. and $90,753,806 worldwide [1] and was the 16th highest grossing movie of 1992.

The film received generally positive reviews. It currently has a 78 percent "fresh rating" on Rotten Tomatoes, with 28 positive reviews.[2] Roger Ebert of Chicago Sun Times gave the film three and a half stars, saying it was "not simply a basketball movie", praising Ron Shelton for "knowing his characters".[3] Janet Maslin from New York Times praised Wesley Snipes for his "funny, knowing performance with a lot of physical verve".[4]


Bob Lanier, Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks legend and Hall of Famer, was hired as basketball coach for the movie. He was impressed with Harrelson and Snipes, suggesting that both reached division III college basketball skill level.

The musical R&B quintet Riff recorded a song and accompanying music video called "White Men Can't Jump" for the movie. The music video featured Woody Harrelson, Wesley Snipes and Rosie Perez. It can be seen on the DVD release with bonus features.

Marques Johnson has a supporting role as Raymond, who loses a game to Snipes and Harrelson. Johnson was a star player for UCLA's 1974-75 national championship team coached by John Wooden and later played for the NBA's Bucks, Clippers and Warriors.

Freeman Williams, who played "Duck" Johnson, also had a distinguished NBA career, playing for the Clippers, Jazz, and Bullets from 1978-86.

Future NBA player Gary Payton made an uncredited appearance as an unidentified street baller.[5]

The category "Foods that start with the letter 'Q'" was an actual category on an October 1997 episode of Jeopardy![6]

There is a video game based on the movie, for the Atari Jaguar console.

To introduce a new basketball shoe, Nike teamed up with the movie makers of "White Men Can't Jump" to assemble the package of shoes inspired by both characters Billy Hoyle and Sidney Deane.[7]


Two soundtracks were released by Capitol Records, the first, White Men Can't Jump was released on March 24, 1992 and consisted mostly of R&B, the second, White Men Can't Rap was released on April 7, 1992 and consisted entirely of hip hop.

Awards and nominations

White Men Can't Jump was nominated for two MTV Movie Awards:

  • Best Kiss (Woody Harrelson and Rosie Perez)
  • Best On-Screen Duo (Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes)


External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

White Men Can't Jump is a 1992 film about two basketball hustlers, one black, one white, who join forces to double their chances.

Written and directed by Ron Shelton.
It ain't easy being this good.


Sydney Deane

  • You see Billy it's like this, you either smoke or you get smoked. And you got smoked.
  • You can put a cat in an oven, but that don't make it a biscuit.
  • Oh man shut your anorexic malnutrition tapeworm-having overdose on Dick Gregory Bohemian diet-drinking ass up. Leave me alone!
  • Can anybody step in for mr. handicap? Anybody, for Mr. Motherfucking March of Dimes?
  • Billy, listen to me. White men can't jump.
  • I don't mean to brag... but I'm the greatest!
  • It's hard work makin' you look so bad.

Billy Hoyle

  • You still putting up bricks? What is this a masons convention? Clang!! Clang!! I need welding torch to play in this leauge. Lets stop right now and gather up all these bricks and build a shelter for the homeless so that your mother will have a place to live. I want your Mother and Sister out of my house immediately !!
  • A white man wants to win first, look good second. A black man wants to look good first, win second.
  • Yo, pretty boy! I looked up basketball player in the dictionary and it said 'Not you!'
  • You're too pretty to play basketball, you know that? You got that Z in your 'fro! Hey man, what are you, the Black Zorro?
  • Keep singin' guys... My old man was a preacher... I love this shit!
  • Who you callin' a pilgrim motherfucker? Gobble this turkey!
  • I'm in a fuckin' zone!


  • Junior: We goin' Sizzla! We goin' Sizzla!
  • Zeke: No, no, no, no...Billy Boy, this is Ghana. You, my friend, are shooting for The Sudan.
  • Rhonda Deane: All I care about is getting out of the Vista View apartments, because there ain't no 'vista', there ain't no "view", and there certainly ain't no vista of no view.
  • Junior: Billy Ho! Good ta see ya Billy ya look swell!
  • Raymond: who rattled your cage dickhead?


Sidney: Hey hey man, what's the score? Yo! Chump! I'm talking to you! I'm talking to the fucking air.
Billy: My name ain't chump, it's Billy Hoyle.
Sidney: Billy Hoyle. BILLY HOYLE. Billy Hoyle. Okay Billy... can you count to ten, Billy?
Billy: Yeah.
Sidney: Good. What's the score... Billy?
Billy: I don't know.
Sidney: Then you're a chump!
Billy: I may be a chump, I just said that wasn't my name.

Gloria: Teammates can't hustle each other.
Rhonda: Why not?
Gloria: It's not artistic.

Billy: You calling me ugly?
Sidney: Your mother did!

Sidney: Billy, I have four words for you: "Listen to the Woman".
Billy: What the hell does that mean, "Listen to the woman"? I TRIED to listen to the woman and you're the one who talked me out of it.
Sidney: Wait a minute. I didn't talk you out of anything. I presented you with an option and you took it.

Gloria: The money was mine to keep for both of us when Jeopardy called.
Billy: Jeopardy is not going to call, when are you going to fuckin' wake up.
Gloria: Jeopardy is going to call Billy, it is my destiny that I triumph magnificently on that show and I'll never do that if I have to wear this stupid hoochie-mama looking dress that you bought me which was obviously a poor excuse to cover up the fact that you fucked up again! I'm going to get on that motherfucking show, and I'm going to win, because I'm filled with more useless goddamn information than any human being on this fucking planet! Whose James K. Polk? How many moons are on Pluto? What's a quince? It's a food, Billy, that starts with the letter Q, and I got seven more! I can't believe you lost the goddamn money!


External links

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Up to date as of February 01, 2010

From Wikia Gaming, your source for walkthroughs, games, guides, and more!

White Men Can't Jump

Developer(s) High Voltage Software
Publisher(s) Atari Games
Release date July 1995
Genre Sports
Mode(s) Single player, Multiplayer
Age rating(s) ESRB: K-A
Platform(s) Jaguar
Credits | Soundtrack | Codes | Walkthrough

White Men Can't Jump was a video game released for the Atari Jaguar in 1996, based on the movie of the same name. As in the movie, players play games of two-on-two street basketball. It came with the Team Tap Adaptor allowing four players to play in tandem. Due to its lacking graphics, among other factors, it has been hailed as one of the least-popular Jaguar games by some critics.

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This article uses material from the "White Men Can't Jump" article on the Gaming wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

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