Authored by Mike Bacon in Movies and Television
Published on 11-14-2009
Jack Nicholson is one of the most recognizable film actors in the industry today. His versatility has enabled him to be equally at home in dramatic and comedic roles. He is also a big supporter of the Los Angeles Lakers NBA team, with floor seats at every Lakers home game when he is not shooting a film. He had a small part in one of the strangest horror films of all time, the original production of “The Little Shop of Horrors” (1960) as a masochistic dental patient. (The part was played by Bill Murray in the Musical remake in 1986.)
Here are some of the best films of Jack Nicholson:
Five Easy Pieces (1970)
Nicholson plays Bobby Dupea, a promising concert pianist who drops out of his life, and begins working on oil rigs in an effort to discover who he is, and what he really wants out of life. When he hears from his sister that their father has had a stroke, Bobby finally returns home with girlfriend Rayette (Karen Black) in tow. Nicholson and Black were both nominated for best Actor and Actress, and the film got a nomination for best picture.
Directed by Roman Polanski, Nicholson stars opposite Faye Dunaway, and John Huston in this mystery set in 1930’s Los Angeles. Nicholson is Private Detective J.J. Gittes who is hired by a woman to investigate her husband’s philandering. The husband is head of the City Water commission, and as Gittes works on the case he finds himself embroiled in much more than the case of an adulterous spouse. Chinatown was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, but only won for best screenplay.
Nicholson took a deliciously evil turn as The Joker in the Tim Burton directed Batman with Michael Keaton as the Caped Crusader/ Millionaire Bruce Wayne. Nicholson made a practice of wearing as little makeup in his films as possible, and for him to agree to play the heavily made up villain in the film was quite a coup for Burton. While the late Heath Ledger may have won an Oscar in the role of The Joker in the more recent “Dark Knight” (2008) Nicholson will always be remembered for his campy version.
A Few Good Men (1992)
Nicholson plays a hard as nails Marine Corps Colonel in this military courtroom thriller. Two young marines under his command have been accused of murdering another marine. Tom Cruise plays the Navy JAG officer assigned to defend the two marines, with Demi Moore as his co-counsel. Kevin Bacon portrays the military prosecutor in the case. The final climactic scene is worth the price of admission.
As Good as it Gets (1997)
Nicholson plays one of his most unusual roles, as Melvin Udall, a cranky, bigoted, obsessive compulsive author of Romance Novels. When his gay neighbor Simon (Greg Kinnear) is badly beaten, Melvin finds himself inexplicably caring for Simon’s dog. Helen Hunt plays a waitress at a diner that Melvin frequents. In fact she seems to be the only one there who can handle Melvin. When the three find themselves on a weekend trip together, Melvin gets a wake up call.