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Jimmy the Kid has been filmed twice, in 1982 with Gary Coleman as Jimmy and in a 1999 German version.

I caught half of the Gary Coleman film…I would have seen the whole thing, but my friend taped it for me and somehow managed to misprogram his VCR. Although it follows the novel fairly closely, Westlake’s cleverness has been replaced with bad slapstick humor. It really is a complete piece of garbage. Check out Jimmy’s black, disco-outfitted entertainer parents doing a country song! I was pretty young in the 1970s but I don’t imagine that happened a lot even then. Watching a capable cast of character actors humiliate themselves in this movie was painful.

The thieves do use Child Heist as a guide, but now it is written by someone named Smith. No mention is made of the novel’s protagonist.

The 1982 Jimmy the Kid has been released on VHS but not on DVD.

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German movie logo

Despite having a tie-in printing, it appears that the 1999 German version has never been released on video in any form. About all I know about it is that Jimmy is played by a girl.

So Caucasian Jimmy has been played by a black actor in an American film and by a female in a European film. Westlake is probably the only author in history to have that happen to two of his characters.

Image gallery for both versions of Jimmy the Kid.

Back to Child Heist (Jimmy the Kid)

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