I am writing this blog entry on April 22, 2020, to celebrate the birthday of one of the greatest actors ever, Jack Nicholson. Few actors have diverse filmography and the success that Jack has achieved. To me personally, he is in my top three of the best actors of all time. I have not seen every movie he has made, but the ones I have seen I am always impressed by his performance even if the movie is not as good. I will take a brief look at the films that I have seen and consider my favorites, he has too many films.
He began his road to acting in 1954 when he worked for famed animators Hanna and Barbera of Flintstones fame. I think his first major exposure in a film came in Easy Rider with Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper. His role was small as I remember but I think he caught the eye of the public. His next great movie came with Five Easy pieces where he earned his first Best Actor nomination.
Chinatown is another great film directed by Roman Polanski. Nicholson plays Jake Gittes, a private investigator hired by a woman to follow her husband and finds a lot more as he gets deeper into the investigation. Earning another nomination, this is a great film with a great plot twist at the end.
In 1975 he made what I think is his best performance in One flew over the cuckoo’s nest. Playing Randal McMurphy Nicholson’s performance is flawless as this man who thinks that by pretending he is crazy he can be better than in jail until he realizes that in there the doctors decide when he leaves and not the end of his sentence. The film is so amazing and Nicholson carries the picture although he was not only one who gave a great performance, Lois Fletcher was so good as Nurse Ratched. With this role, Nicholson won his first Oscar for Best Actor and deservingly so. This one film that I think every movie fan should see.
The Shining is a classic Nicholson film with the famous “Here is Johnny” line in a scene where he is chasing Shelly long. That is a fi I want to see again because there are details I don’t remember about the movie.
Of course, I have to mention Batman, where Nicholson went another direction making a film that is not drama but instead superhero film. Nicholson as the Joker nailed the craziness of the character, making him evil but funny like only he could. Heath and Joaquin really explored the evil side of the character, Nicholson went for the outrageous and it worked for the Tim Burton film.
In 1997 Nicholson appeared in my second favorite of his films, As good as it gets it’s a moving story of how this man’s life is changed by him opening his door even if it was by force. Nicholson is so great as Melvin, a unique character who you love to hate because he makes it hard to love, but there is a charm to Nicholson’s performance that the audience understands Melvin and root for him to get the girl in the end. For this film, he won his third Oscar, second for Best Actor.
The film About Schmidt is not mentioned much, but I think his performance was so good in it. playing a clam character who upon retiring and losing his wife, he wonders what was the point of his life. His sole purpose in the film is to stop his daughter from marrying a guy he felt was going nowhere. I just love the last scene where he found that something he did brought someone good and he went from crying to laughter. I love this film.
The last film I want to mention as I provide my favorite Nicholson films is Something’s gotta give, this was a funny performance as this 60-year-old who only dated young women and suddenly falls for a woman his age.
After appearing in the film How do you do it he has since retired from acting if he does not appear in another film he has left an enduring legacy of great performances. His performance in films like A few good men, The witches of Eastwick, The Departed, Reds, The postman always ring twice and a lot more.
Happy Birthday, Jack.