Terry works for a bank, and uses computers to communicate with clients all over the world. One day she gets a coded message from an unknown source. After decoding the message, Terry becomes embroiled in an espionage ring. People are killed, and Terry is chased. Throughout she remains in contact with this unknown person, who needs Terry to help save his life.
Jumpin’ Jack Flash is a 1986 American spy comedy film starring Whoopi Goldberg. The film was directed by Penny Marshall in her theatrical film directorial debut. The soundtrack includes two versions of the song “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”: the original by the Rolling Stones, and a remake by Aretha Franklin heard over the end credits. Franklin’s version was not included on the film’s soundtrack album but was released as a single.
About the Story
Teresa “Terry” Doolittle (Whoopi Goldberg) transfers funds for the First National Bank in Manhattan, New York. She does not quite fit with the bank’s corporate image, despite being a good employee and well-liked by her co-workers. She is often chastised by her no-nonsense boss James Page (Peter Michael Goetz).
Set against the backdrop of the pre-Glasnost Cold War, Terry receives the message, “Knock, Knock,” and is contacted by a man calling himself “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” who turns out to be a British Intelligence agent in Eastern Europe who is being pursued by the KGB. After being given a riddle for his password, Terry determines the password to be B-flat, after the key in which “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” is supposedly written (as the actual song by the Rolling Stones is recorded in the key of B-flat).
Jack sends her to the British Consulate to deliver the message “Dog’s barking, can’t fly without umbrella” to Department C. Despite feeling ludicrous, Terry delivers the message to Jeremy Talbot (John Wood) who is apparently puzzled and informs her there is no Department C. Jack then asks her to enter his apartment in New York to retrieve a frying pan, on which are Jack’s CIA contacts to acquire a passport. Meanwhile, Marty Phillips (Stephen Collins) arrives at First National Bank as a new coworker and, unbeknownst to her, Terry is being watched.
A computer technician (Jim Belushi) shows up at the bank to repair her terminal, but when Terry calls Sperry Corporation to confirm his identity, the technician vanishes. As she enters the taxi upon leaving Jack’s apartment, she is frightened to find him as the driver. His plan to abduct her fails when she knocks him out with the frying pan and flees the cab.
Using the contacts on the frying pan, Terry attempts unsuccessfully to contact Peter Caen, but does reach Mark Van Meter (Jeroen Krabbé), who meets her at the docks. After being stunned to realize Terry is a civilian and has no relationship at all with the intelligence community, Van Meter notices they are being watched and pushes Terry off the docks and into the East River to save her life, but is shot and killed himself.
The police dismiss Terry’s claim of the murder and Marty comes to the station and takes her home. After finding a listing in the local obituaries, Terry goes to Van Meter’s funeral, where she meets Liz Carlson (Annie Potts), the wife of Harry Carlson, one of Jack’s contacts and another of his contacts, Archer Lincoln (Roscoe Lee Browne).
Terry tries to talk to Lincoln, but he leaves before she can. Liz invites Terry back to her home and gives her some information about Jack and her husband, who she assumes is still with Jack. When Terry tells him about her meeting with Liz and Lincoln later that night, they both deduce that Harry has been killed. Jack then tells her how to break into the British Consulate central computer.
Jumpin’ Jack Flash (1986)
Directed by: Penny Marshall
Starring: Whoopi Goldberg, Stephen Collins, John Wood, Carol Kane, Annie Potts, Peter Michael Goetz, Sara Botsford, Jonathan Pryce
Screenplay by: David Franzoni
Production Design by: Robert F. Boyle
Cinematography by: Matthew F. Leonetti
Film Editing by: Mark Goldblatt
Costume Design by: Susan Becker
Set Decoration by: Donald J. Remacle, Robert Drumheller
Art Direction by: Frank Richwood
Music by: Thomas Newman
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: October 10, 1986