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View Full Version : When did Jack Nicholson develop his schtick?


PopcornTreeCt
03-25-12, 05:47 PM
Watching older Nicholson movies like Five Easy Pieces, Chinatown, The Passenger, Easy Rider, and even One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest you see a totally different actor. Not just his appearance but he was such a better actor.

My question is, when did he develop his "Jack" schtick and play that personality over and over again? Was it The Shining? Was it later?

Solid Snake
03-25-12, 05:50 PM
I'm going to say probably the 80s.

GoldenJCJ
03-25-12, 06:05 PM
Seems to me like he turned it into high gear for Batman.

PopcornTreeCt
03-25-12, 06:07 PM
Seems to me like he turned it into high gear for Batman.

That's what I was thinking too.

Drexl
03-25-12, 06:38 PM
I think it was before Batman, perhaps The Witches of Eastwick.

My Other Self
03-25-12, 06:55 PM
I think it was before Batman, perhaps The Witches of Eastwick.I think that's the first movie I started noticing it in. Has Nicholson really done anything of caliber to his older performances since The Shinging?

Matthew Chmiel
03-25-12, 07:03 PM
I think it was before Batman, perhaps The Witches of Eastwick.
This.

Has Nicholson really done anything of caliber to his older performances since The Shinging?
I think Nicholson has been in some great films since The Shining (Broadcast News, As Good As it Gets, and The Departed come to mind). However, none of those films were good because of Nicholson.

Mike86
03-25-12, 07:04 PM
It may have happened before but to me Batman and anything after is when it began to become more noticeable.

Kurtie Dee
03-25-12, 07:08 PM
I'm going to vote for <i>The Shining</i>, and I blame Kubrick. The bonus features mention how Nicholson would give what he thought was a realistic performance and Kubrick kept telling him to go way over the top to get the stuff he wanted.

JumpCutz
03-25-12, 07:13 PM
^Agree. I don't like the mugging Nicholson does in The Shining. An odd choice by Kubrick.

TomOpus
03-25-12, 07:19 PM
Yeah, don't get me started on the horrible casting of Nicholson in "The Shining." I always agreed with what Stephen King said about that.

Shannon Nutt
03-25-12, 07:31 PM
I think that's the first movie I started noticing it in. Has Nicholson really done anything of caliber to his older performances since The Shinging?

Hoffa and The Pledge. He should have gotten an Oscar noms for both of them.

inri222
03-25-12, 07:52 PM
I think that's the first movie I started noticing it in. Has Nicholson really done anything of caliber to his older performances since The Shinging?

Ironweed & The Crossing Guard

RoadToPerdition
03-25-12, 07:57 PM
On a related note, when did Pacino get his? The Devil's Advocate?

My Other Self
03-25-12, 07:58 PM
Hoffa and The Pledge. He should have gotten an Oscar noms for both of them.I wasn't particuarly impressed with his performance in Hoffa, but I remember The Pledge getting rave reviews when it came out.

All I seem to remember him doing movies as of late are things like The Bucket List. I liked The Departed but it wasn't because of his performance in particular.
On a related note, when did Pacino get his? The Devil's Advocate?That's the one that sticks out to me. Everything he's done since then has been of law-caliber, with the exception of Insomnia.

inri222
03-25-12, 08:03 PM
Everything he's done since then has been of law-caliber, with the exception of Insomnia.

IMO he was also good in 'The Insider' & 'You Don't Know Jack'.

JZ1276
03-25-12, 08:44 PM
On a related note, when did Pacino get his? The Devil's Advocate?

Either Heat or The Devil's Advocate (not sure which came first).

IMO he was also good in 'The Insider' & 'You Don't Know Jack'.

These films show he still has the chops, but seems like in the last 10 years he'll take whatever he can get.

JumpCutz
03-25-12, 09:29 PM
Pacino was WAY over the top in Scent of a Woman, even though he won the Oscar.

Pacino started his career with quiet self-contained performances and the last 15 or so years HE GOT LOUD!!

Okay back to Nicholson. :)

JumpCutz
03-25-12, 09:30 PM
IMO he was also good in 'The Insider' & 'You Don't Know Jack'.

Yes he was.

gmanca
03-25-12, 10:01 PM
Hoffa and The Pledge. He should have gotten an Oscar noms for both of them.

Yeah, those are his last great performances in serious roles.

foofighters7
03-25-12, 11:45 PM
Jack was terrific in 'About Schmidt' and he wasn't doing any so called 'schtick'. It was also quite a nice film.

Numanoid
03-25-12, 11:56 PM
Yeah, don't get me started on the horrible casting of Nicholson in "The Shining." I always agreed with what Stephen King said about that.Yes, what a horrible, iconic performance.

TomOpus
03-26-12, 12:13 AM
Yes, what a horrible, iconic performance.The story is about Torrance's decent into madness. Nicholson pretty much looks crazy from the get-go and that lessens the impact the house is having on him.

Chadm
03-26-12, 12:23 AM
Deniro never really developed a schtick. But he definetly stopped giving a shit at some point.

My Other Self
03-26-12, 12:44 AM
What did Stephen King say about Jack Nicholson's performance in The Shining? That's gotta be one of the best performances in a film.

Solid Snake
03-26-12, 12:48 AM
Yeah...I really like Nicholson in The Shining.

rw2516
03-26-12, 05:05 AM
What did Stephen King say about Jack Nicholson's performance in The Shining? That's gotta be one of the best performances in a film.

Not the performance so much as the choice of Nicholson. The trademark Nicholson performance began with Cuckoo's Nest. Even though he made great films prior, the popularity and success of Cuckoo's Nest is what made him a household name and after that audiences came to expect McMurphy in a Jack Nicholson performance. At the time audiences knew exactly how Nicholson was going to be in The Shining. And he was exactly as expected. No suprise there. That was King's beef. Jack Torrence was supposed to be a normal family guy, the last person you expect to turn psycho. King's top choice was Ron Howard.

conscience
03-26-12, 05:20 AM
Never.

I never understood these "he's playing himself" threads for any actor. All actors have different techniques and not all are the same.

Ash Ketchum
03-26-12, 05:43 AM
Nicholson's schtick was first visible in LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS (1960).

http://content7.flixster.com/photo/10/36/18/10361805_ori.jpg

The Bus
03-26-12, 06:01 AM
Pacino managed to dial it down for <i>The Insider</i>, no?

Shannon Nutt
03-26-12, 06:41 AM
Pacino managed to dial it down for <i>The Insider</i>, no?

He did, and even though he was still "showy" in DONNIE BRASCO, I think think that's his best performance outside Michael Corleone.

Once again...back to Jack.

Jaymole
03-26-12, 07:06 AM
Not the performance so much as the choice of Nicholson. The trademark Nicholson performance began with Cuckoo's Nest. Even though he made great films prior, the popularity and success of Cuckoo's Nest is what made him a household name and after that audiences came to expect McMurphy in a Jack Nicholson performance. At the time audiences knew exactly how Nicholson was going to be in The Shining. And he was exactly as expected. No suprise there. That was King's beef. Jack Torrence was supposed to be a normal family guy, the last person you expect to turn psycho. King's top choice was Ron Howard.

I love the film, but I would have liked either a different actor, or Nicholson toning it down in the beginning scenes. I found him to be a little off kilter right from the start...it really would have made his later descent into madness that much scarier and impactful.

Loc Nar
03-26-12, 07:22 AM
I found him to be a little off kilter right from the start...it really would have made his later descent into madness that much scarier and impactful.

Respectfully disagree. The fact that he was a little off kilter (prior anger issues with Danny, for example) helped sell his increased susceptibility to the madness as compared to Wendy. Also, it fits better with the denouement.

Dr Mabuse
03-26-12, 10:59 AM
Seems to me like he turned it into high gear for Batman.

That's probably where he just stopped caring. He made an all time record amount of money off that film IIRC, a huge outright salary, and a relatively huge part of the back end including merchandizing and all. Which, on that film, turned out to be one of the most merchandized films since Star Wars.

He was set for life after that. I saw him say in an interview back then, when he was questioned about that massive financial gain off the film, that after that film he could buy the best weed and smoke all he wanted, and that meant he was rich. He was pretty much a caricature in part after part after that. I can't take even 5 minutes of his schtick in films like 'A Few Good Men' and other so-called 'acting' performances he did.

Except, in his Oscar nominated performance in 'Ironweed', as already noted, where he had the likes of Streep to keep up with, and under the skilled direction of Alexander Payne in 'About Schmidt', as already noted, which was cited by many critics and film fans as the first actual acting Jack had done in decades.

Double_Oh_7
03-26-12, 11:05 AM
I never understood these "he's playing himself" threads for any actor. All actors have different techniques and not all are the same.

Have you ever seen a Will Smith movie?

conscience
03-26-12, 11:52 AM
Have you ever seen a Will Smith movie?

Yes.

Mabuse
03-26-12, 12:48 PM
Not the performance so much as the choice of Nicholson. The trademark Nicholson performance began with Cuckoo's Nest. Even though he made great films prior, the popularity and success of Cuckoo's Nest is what made him a household name and after that audiences came to expect McMurphy in a Jack Nicholson performance. At the time audiences knew exactly how Nicholson was going to be in The Shining. And he was exactly as expected. No suprise there. That was King's beef. Jack Torrence was supposed to be a normal family guy, the last person you expect to turn psycho. King's top choice was Ron Howard.

I agree with this. It seems to have been created on Cuckoo's Nest--you can see the begining of it. Over the next few years he did some films that didn't feature his schtick, but after The Shining it's pretty much all he did. AND he seems to employe the schtick all the time. I've seen interviews and public appearances where he behaves the same way. I think he's just stoned all the time.

Tom Creo
03-26-12, 01:17 PM
"You're out of order! You're out of order! The whole trial is out of order!"

Pacino did do a low key performance in Jack and Jill last year.

RocShemp
03-26-12, 01:58 PM
Pacino was great in You Don't Know Jack. It really depends on the material he's given.

Why So Blu?
03-26-12, 02:06 PM
Well technically he did have that one scene in Chinatown where tells the joke at the office. That's straight whacky Jack if anything.

Strevlac
03-26-12, 06:49 PM
Pacino was WAY over the top in Scent of a Woman, even though he won the Oscar.

That is exactly where it started for Pacino.

Drexl
03-27-12, 02:40 AM
Or maybe he just had so much fun with Dick Tracy that he decided to carry some of it over to other performances.

gmanca
03-27-12, 02:44 AM
I'd say his work in Sea of Love is when he started that whole schtick.

LiquidSky
03-27-12, 07:19 AM
Hoffa and The Pledge. He should have gotten an Oscar noms for both of them.


I haven' seen "Hoffa" but he gave an excellent performance in "The Pledge". Reminded me he could actually act and not rely on his schtick.

Nick Danger
03-27-12, 10:14 AM
Never.

I never understood these "he's playing himself" threads for any actor. All actors have different techniques and not all are the same.

They aren't playing themselves. But there are actors like John Wayne figure out that they can do one thing extraordinarily well, and never stray very far from that. Other actors learn that their movies make good money if they do one trick, so they do that trick over and over again until they wear out their welcome. A lot of comic actors, action heroes, and sex bombs fall in the second category.

Jack Nicholson seems to be in the first category. He does it very well, audiences buy tickets, and everyone is happy.

William Fuld
03-27-12, 01:22 PM
King's top choice was Ron Howard.

I've always heard King wanted Michael Moriarty. Howard would have been too young.

Numanoid
03-27-12, 03:33 PM
We got to see what King always wanted with that godawful TV movie. Thank goodness that Kubrick didn't listen to him.

kefrank
03-27-12, 04:30 PM
We got to see what King always wanted with that godawful TV movie. Thank goodness that Kubrick didn't listen to him.
+1

I like the book and all, but I don't really care what King wanted for the movie. The film stands on its own and works very well with Nicholson.

Ralph Jenkins
03-27-12, 09:18 PM
Well technically he did have that one scene in Chinatown where tells the joke at the office. That's straight whacky Jack if anything.

Just the other day, I was watching the interviews on the DVD of Rosemary's Baby, and Polanski mentioned that Jack was considered for the role of the husband, but he thought Jack looked too sinister. The viewer needed to be unsure if Rosemary's husband could be trusted. It's kind of interesting that Stephen King ended up having a similar problem with Jack being cast in The Shining.

TomOpus
03-27-12, 11:05 PM
Just the other day, I was watching the interviews on the DVD of Rosemary's Baby, and Polanski mentioned that Jack was considered for the role of the husband, but he thought Jack looked too sinister. The viewer needed to be unsure if Rosemary's husband could be trusted. It's kind of interesting that Stephen King ended up having a similar problem with Jack being cast in The Shining.It's the eyebrows!

rw2516
03-28-12, 05:09 AM
I've always heard King wanted Michael Moriarty. Howard would have been too young.

I think it was in Danse Macabre he mentions Ron Howard. Howard would have been 25/26.

Burgundy LaRue
03-28-12, 11:13 AM
It's the eyebrows!

Nicholson has one of the most animated faces among actors. From the brows to eyes, from the nose to the way he can curl his mouth--he has interesting physical features that have served him well, but can make him look needlessly crazy if featured in the wrong light.

Rypro 525
03-28-12, 02:16 PM
Pacino was WAY over the top in Scent of a Woman, even though he won the Oscar.

Pacino started his career with quiet self-contained performances and the last 15 or so years HE GOT LOUD!!

Okay back to Nicholson. :)

even though its supposed to be over the top, watch Pacino's performance in Dick Tracy. The random screaming started there

Shannon Nutt
03-28-12, 02:38 PM
even though its supposed to be over the top, watch Pacino's performance in Dick Tracy. The random screaming started there

I think the screaming started in Dog Day Afternoon. ATTICA!

covenant
03-28-12, 02:57 PM
even though its supposed to be over the top, watch Pacino's performance in Dick Tracy. The random screaming started there

Scarface, every scene. And Sea of Love is when he really starts turning it on. By Godfather III he bears little resemblance to the Michael Corleone we remember.

Groucho
03-28-12, 03:08 PM
Let's not hold up Stephen King as some paragon of casting choices, especially when it comes to adaptations of his own books. This is a guy who wanted Lindsay Lohan (a twenty-something who looks MUCH MUCH OLDER) in the title role of Carrie, over Chloe Moretz (an actual teenager).

TomOpus
03-28-12, 07:00 PM
Regardless of some of his other remarks regarding other movies, I know how I felt when I walked out of the theater. I was confused at the major changes in the book, baffled at the ending and didn't care for Jack. The book affected me in ways other horror books had not. It really scared me. So, I held the book in very high esteem.

Now, having said that, over the years I've softened on the liberties the movie took with the book. I do own it the movie. It IS very Kubrick. I still don't like 1st-act-of-the-movie Jack but he does let out all the stops for the rest of the movie. I might've enjoyed the movie more if I had not read the book.