A Lars List

Jack in the 70’s

I shot a commercial last year with an interesting bit of trivia. At the wardrobe fitting I was informed that the location we would be using for my home in the spot was used in Chinatown (#19 on AFI’s TOP 100) – the modest Los Angeles home where Faye Dunaway’s character hid away her little sister.

When I sat down to revisit the brilliant Roman Polanski noir classic, lo and behold, there it was. The very yard I raked for the folks of Bank of America.

This prompted me to go on a Jack Nicholson film appreciation spree.

Everyone loves Jack. What a career. We will surely never see another like him.

To fully appreciate his cinematic significance look no further than his work in the 1970’s, a decade of films that begins with Five Easy Pieces and ends with The Shining.

Check this list out:

1970  Five Easy Pieces –  The scene in the diner where he tries to order the BLT is vintage Jack. One of many reasons to watch this one. Excellent script, beautiful film.

1971  Carnal Knowledge – Adult comedy with an inspired cast including Art Garfunkel of all people. Sexy film. A must-see for Jack fans.

1972  The King of Marvin Gardens – Not a great film, but marks another collaboration with Five Easy Pieces director Bob Rafelson.

1973  The Last Detail – One of my personal favorites. A simple story about transporting a military prisoner that evolves with such depth. Randy Quaid also excellent.

1974  Chinatown – “Forget it, Jake – it’s just Chinatown.” Watch the interviews on the DVD’s special features. A film noir masterpiece.

1975  One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – One of only three films to win the five major Academy Awards (Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, Actor & Actress). Disturbingly brilliant and hugely influential. It ranks #20 on AFI’s list.

1976  The Missouri Breaks – This quirky Arthur Penn western marks Jack’s only collaboration with his longtime Mullholland Dr. neighbor Marlon Brando. Fun watching ’em both chew it up.

1976  The Last Tycoon – Should have been great, but meandered. With Jack playing a supporting role to Robert DeNiro’s lead, a script by Harold Pinter from the  F. Scott Fitzgerald novel, and directed by Frank Capra. Still a nice day at the office.

1980  The Shining – Widely considered one of the scariest films ever made (although the slasher film generation scoffs). Nicholson proves here that a leading man can also be the villain – “Heeeeeere’s Johnny!” says it all. Directed by Stanley Kubrick, but starring Jack Nicholson.

Quite a decade of work. Then, for good measure, The Postman Always Rings Twice came out in 1981, meaning it was shot in the late 70’s. This was one of my first glimpses of the power Jack Nicholson brings to the screen. Oh, and Easy Rider (#88 on that AFI list) was released in 1969.

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