My Top Ten Jack Nicholson Movies

Happy Birthday to Jack Nicholson, who turns 79 tomorrow! ๐Ÿ™‚

I love Jack. Jack is cool. I’d love to be as cool as Jack! He’s been a favorite actor of mine for years – Probably ever since I saw my top two movies on this list at the age of 15 or so. And, okay – since I also saw Batman at that same time. I became slightly obsessed with Jack’s Joker. I even had some awesome Joker earrings that I wore for months in 1989. What a nerd…

Nicholson has been in some damn good films. It’s not often that I do these Top Ten Actor lists where a couple of the movies are all-time favorites of mine but I can say that’s definitely the case this time with the two that top this list. Absolute classics! I like all the movies in this list but the top two are truly special and a lot of that is thanks to Jack’s performance in each of them. He’s my favorite crazy bastard.

Let’s get this started! Wow – it’s also not often that I’ve reviewed NONE of the films in a top ten I’m doing. A lot of that is down to me being uncomfortable “reviewing” the movies I love the most & I keep putting off reviewing the top two for my IMDB Top 250 Project. Anyway – here are My Top Ten Jack Nicholson Movies (not ranked by performance) counting down to my favorite:

10. TIE: A Few Good Men & Mars Attacks!

9. Easy Rider

8. Tommy

7. Terms Of Endearment

6. The Bucket List

5. The Departed

4. Batman

3. Chinatown

2. The Shining

1. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

**In case you wonder why some movies are missing, it may be because I haven’t seen them. Here are the remainder of his films that I’ve seen, but some were so long ago that I need to re-watch them:

– How Do You Know (the only one he was in that I’d consider “bad”)
– The Witches Of Eastwick (need to re-watch)
– Something’s Gotta Give
– Little Shop Of Horrors (need to re-watch)
– As Good As It Gets
– Anger Management
– About Schmidt (Jack was great in this)

Also, here’s a quick Happy Birthday tomorrow to the gorgeous Catherine Mary Stewart (57 – one of my favorite Twitter buddies). Yes, Catherine Mary Stewart & her co-star Kelli Maroney both followed me on Twitter after I reviewed their classic 80’s movie Night Of The Comet. And I use every opportunity possible to keep mentioning that on my blog… ๐Ÿ™‚

(Some of my other celeb followers: Zach Galligan, Linnea Quigley, a girl from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and the dude who got his throat ripped out in Road House!!!! I love my mostly-80’s celebrity Twitter followers!) ๐Ÿ˜‰

Finally, there is one cool celebrity birthday that is actually today: Iggy Pop has just turned 69. Wow – he doesn’t look a day over 109!

Chinatown (1974) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Damien of Flashback/Backslide. He also reviewed Sin City here & Memento here. Thanks for the reviews, Damien! ๐Ÿ™‚ Now let’s see what he has to say about Chinatown, IMDB rank 78 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE.

Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.

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CHINATOWN

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Any tour through the film noir landscape will likely stop for a visit with Roman Polansky’s Chinatown. Released in 1974, the film is held up as the quintessential neo-noir, that new batch of films debuting from the 1960’s and onwards which lifted traits from film noir’s Golden Age but branded the genre with elements not seen in the post-war period. Touring through The Maltese Falcon (1941) and The Big Sleep (1946) reveals the habits of those first noirs, filled with tough-guy detectives and Humphrey Bogart’s cold stares and wry smiles. Chinatown uses the mold of these early films then breaks it, adding in elements not fitted for screens twenty years earlier.

Jack Nicholson stars as Jake Gittes, a private investigator in 1937 Los Angeles. Like Spade and Marlowe, Gittes isn’t picky with clients he takes but the weight of the job and the secrets he’s uncovered appear to be more a burden for him than they did for Bogart. The film’s complicated story begins with what appears to be a simple mystery. After dismissing one client, a tired Gittes reenters his office to find a stoic woman sitting across the room. She calls on his services because she believes her husband is seeing another woman. Gittes hears the complaint, sighs then sarcastically responds “No…Really?” By this point he must have seen dozens of these cases and is not eager to jump into another. Gittes quickly disregards her worries: “Mrs. Mulwray do your love your husband? Then go home and forget everything. I’m sure that he loves you too. Do you know the expresion ‘let sleeping dogs lie’? You’re…better off not knowing” But soon he finds the adulterer in question is Hollis Mulwray, an influential Los Angeles city planner. Realizing the money to be made, Gittes signs on and is plunged into a complicated mystery involving nearly a dozen instigators.

Chinatown establishes its film noir chops early and often. Stereotyped film noir elements are found throughout; smoking with exceptionaly long cigarette stems, venetian blinds (Gittes mentions Venetian blinds in the first spoken line), characteristic fashion (namely overly-fancy hats), stereotyped camera angles and the use mirrors and reflections including an interesting reflection off a camera lens showing us Gittes and his point of view simultaneously. Jack Nicholson plays a sadder, more defeated version of Sam Spade. Faye Dunaway, gives an incredible performance as his femme fatale, bringing to life the desperate Evelyn Mulwray. John Huston, legendary director of noir classics like The Maltese Falcon and Key Largo is cast as one of the central characters and gives one of the film’s most memorable performances.

The mystery at the center of Chinatown turns out to be far more complicated than that in The Maltese Falcon or The Third Man and with more sinister dealings at the core. Debuting in 1974 likely factors into the plot. By then audience members would expect a more mysterious mystery and would tolerate more sex and violence along the way. From the very beginning sex is front and center as the opening frames show close-ups of photographs taken of a sex scene. Gittes famously has his nose cut during the film, leaving Jack Nicholson’s bandaged face on most stills. Between those opening frames, a sliced nose, rape and incest, much of the content here wouldn’t have passed censors twenty years earlier.

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Rating:10/10

Classic Film Scale Rating: 8/10

Bottomline: A worthy flag-bearer for the neo-noir genre, Chinatown takes all the best elements of the Golden Age noirs and even improves on the classics.

Thanks for reading!

Flashback/Backslide