There was quite a bit of irony to this week’s Top 10 list in that more than one recent news event gravitated me towards Jack Nicholson. Not only with the latest dig in the dirt to see if they found Jimmy Hoffa but also the case with James Whitey Bulger.
It seems like actually a couple of lifetimes ago that I saw my first Jack Nicholson movie, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. In no possible way could I remotely fathom the great masterpiece I had just witnessed after I saw that. I thought they were just a bunch of loons in mental hospital. Ahh, but it’s actually quite close to exact reality and I will share more on that later in the post.
Easy Rider totally hit home for me in that, despite being a really good student and involved in numerous activities, I was also a horrendous rebel playing on the other side of the tracks so to speak. Sorry, Dad.
Then I saw The Shining and was absolutely terrified out of my living skull. We all have fears and maybe a phobia or two here and there. Being chased or followed is one that really puts the fight or flight mode at a red line status. So, I watched this man gone insane wanting to kill his wife and little boy with an axe. Looking-over-your-shoulder-itis.
Yes, Jack Nicholson had my attention and I went back and watched the previous two movies on VHS (yes, you read that right) along with Chinatown. I realized with myself and all movie goers to his performances that we were all witnessing greatness.
Now, at 76 years old, he can bask in his life’s work as movie viewers around the world, young and old, enjoy his brilliant work over and over again. His gorgeous glass in-cased trophy cabinet (I assume) at home is a shrine to that no doubt. Only two actors were nominated for an Oscar every decade over five decades and he is one of them. Do you know the other without looking it up? Six Golden Globes and the American Film Institute’s Life Achievement Award. The other actor is Michael Caine.
Hillary Clinton has used quotes from his movies with Batman, “Wait ’til they get a load of me…” and The Shining, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy…” but the best was from A Few Good Men, “Nothing on this earth is sexier, believe me, gentlemen, than a woman you have to salute in the morning.”
He first worked as a gofer for the MGM legends William Hanna and Joseph Barbera and they even offered him an entry-level job which he declined to pursue acting. Good call there, Jack. He was the first choice to play the role of Father Damien Karras which would have been fascinating and I mentioned it in my favorite horror movie endings post here. But that amazing role was given to Jason Miller.
He got his Hollywood lips whetted a bit more when he wrote the screenplay in 1967 “The Trip” which starred Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper. His big break then came in “Easy Rider” which finally put him on solid footing. He put in several good pieces of work before nailing a great performance in Chinatown. It was off to the moon from there.
He even worked as volunteer fireman in the 1970’s. If this post was a class you would be seeing that again as an answer to the question, “Which Jack Nicholson movie would that have been most applicable to?”
Once again I tried to do a little different angle for this week and that would be showing you cast members and their character names along with some lengthy informational trivia and of course the videos. So, without further chatter and of course a thank to Google Images, You Tube and IMDB, here are My Top 10 +1 Favorite Jack Nicholson Movies.
+1 Anger Management (2003)
Adam Sandler – Dave Buznik
Marisa Tomei – Linda
Starring as Dr Buddy Rydell
Directed by Peter Segal
Could you imagine his character being your confidant? They inserted irony into the film when he choose a baseball bat over a golf club to smash the window of the Lexus. Nicholson was cited for smashing a man’s window with a golf club in a bout of rage. He recommended that his best friend Harry Dean Stanton be cast in the movie and got the part of the old blind man with the cane. A donated version of this movie was given to U.S. military bases supporting Operating Enduring/Iraqi Freedom in the Persian Gulf with a special 5 minute thank you introduction to the troops from Sandler.
John Colicos – Nick Papadakis
Angelica Houston – Madge
Michael Lerner – Mr. Katz
John P Ryan – Kennedy
Directed by Bob Rafelson
A reversion of the original black and white classic as he joins director Bob Rafelson for their fourth of six movie ventures together. At the time it was easily the hottest sex scenes I had ever seen in for an R rated movie. And that was a sentiment across the board for most anyone else as it was the first of the erotic thrillers from the 80’s. Fatal Attraction and Basic Instinct were soon to follow in its footsteps.
Billy Dee Williams – Harvey Dent
Pat Hingle – Commissioner James Gordon
Jack Palance – Carl Grissom
Jerry Hall – Alicia Hunt
Starring as Joker/Jack Napier
Dennis Hopper – Billy
Starring as George Hanson
Directed by Dennis Hopper, Written by Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda
Fonda states that LSD was not used during the acid scene. But, the three of them smoking marijuana on camera was quite real. It was actually smoked in numerous scenes but the white substance snorted by Fonda was reportedly powdered sugar. Fonda had said he was told by Hopper it would be real cocaine. The latter had a notorious reputation at the time for his legendary drug excesses and he terrorized the crew so badly that everyone quit. They had to hire a completely new second crew. One of the children seen in the commune is Bridget Fonda, Peter’s young daughter.
7 Hoffa (1992)
Danny DeVito – Bobby Ciaro
Armand Assante – Carol D’Allesandro
Frank Whaley – Young Kid
John P Ryan – Red Bennett
Robert Prosky – Billy Flynn
John C Reilly – Pete Connelly
Jennifer Nicholson – Nurse Nun in white
Starring as James R. “Jimmy” Hoffa
Directed by Danny DeVito
6 The Bucket List (2007)
Morgan Freeman – Carter
Rob Morrow – Dr Hollins
Sean Hayes – Thomas
Beverly Todd – Virginia
Starring as Edward
Directed by Rob Reiner
5 The Departed (2006)
Leonardo DiCaprio – Billy
Matt Damon – Colin Sullivan
Mark Wahlberg – Dignam
Martin Sheen – Queenan
Alec Baldwin – Ellerby
Vera Farmiga – Madolyn
Starring as Frank Costello
Directed by Martin Scorcese
“I don’t want to be a product of my environment, I want my environment to be a product of me, “Costello said. And what a kick ass quote it is. In Nicholson’s first work with Scorcese to scored big time with not only a blockbuster movie but a marquee cast that brought it all together. There was so much paranoia, loyalty and mystery that it left you baffled at moments that even the viewer doesn’t know the title of the movie until after 18 minutes into it. Retired Massachusetts State Police Major, Thomas B Duffy, was the film’s technical advisor as he had specialized in organized crime for 30 years. He was very involved in the James Whitey Bulger case that Frank Costello is based on to some degree. Nicholson would only wear a New York Yankees hat hence thumbing his nose at wearing a Red Sox hat while filming in that city. Scorcese, William Monahan and DeCaprio had to convince him to take the role. And we get to enjoy the backdrop music to the mega hit song that I linked here.
4 A Few Good Men (1992)
Tom Cruise – Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee
Demi Moore – Lieutenant Commander Joanne Callaway
Kevin Bacon – Captain Ross
Kiefer Sutherland – Lieutentant Jonathan Kendrick
Kevin Pollack – LieutentantSam Weinberg
J.T. Walsh – Lieutentant Colonel Mathew Andrew Markinson
J.A. Preston – Judge Julius Alexander Randolph
Noah Wyle – Corporal Jeffrey Barnes
Starring as Colonel Nathan R Jessup
Directed by Rob Reiner
Michael Berryman – Ellis
Peter Brocco- Col Matterson
Dean R Brooks – Dr Spivey
Scatman Cruthers – Turkle
Danny DeVito – Martini
Louise Fletcher – Nurse Ratched
Christopher Lloyd – Taber
Vincent Schiavelli – Fredickson
Directed by Milos Forman
2 The Shining (1980)
Shelley Duvall – Wendy Torrence
Danny Lloyd – Danny Torrence
Scatman Crothers – Dick Hollorann
Starring as Jack Torrence
Directed by Stanley Kubrick
1 As Good As Gets (1997)
Helen Hunt – Carol Connelly
Greg Kinnear – Simon Bishop
Cuba Gooding Jr – Frank Sachs
Skeet Ulrich – Vincent
Starring as Melvin Uduall
Directed by James L Brooks
“The dog is the catalyst. Everything that happens in this movie happens because of Verdell,” said Nicholson. The dog is a Brussels Griffon and according to the American Kennel Club they made excellent watchdogs. Kinnear didn’t fare too well in bonding with the dog for whatever reason. James (Spence) thought of Nicholson as an old guy was really nice and wasn’t intimidating at all. Nicholson’s co-star in A Few Good Men, J.T. Walsh had died shortly before the Academy Awards in 1998. At the ceremony as he ascended the steps to the podium he carefully stepped over the cracks between the tiles on the stage then dedicated his Oscar to Walsh. Class act move. The fear of stepping on cracks in the sidewalk is called Dipatiphobia. The 18 page thank you letter was read by Hunt in one take. Nicholson was stressed to no end that because his character was so horrible to people that they would hate the movie. “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” by Art Garfunkel plays at the credits and he and Nicholson starred together in the film “Carnal Knowledge”. It was not intended for Nicholson to kiss but the director yelled at him, “Kiss her, man!” That worked out really well as I mentioned here in my favorite kisses post…
So there is My Top 10 +1 Favorite Jack Nicholson Movies but what is your favorite Jack Nicholson movie?