Tag Archives: Jack Nicholson

Film: Chinatown

Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, and John Huston were featured in Chinatown. But the real star of the movie was the screenplay by Robert Towne. Uploaded by screencrave.com.

I love film noir. Give me a good black and white mystery from the 1940s, maybe written by Raymond Chandler, with a tough private eye and a beautiful dame, and I’m a happy guy. The popularity of color naturally pushed noir into the shadows (so to speak), but it had something of a revival in the 1970s, led by the wonderful Chinatown.

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Directed by child molester¬† Roman Polanski (he’ll never be on this list), the movie featured Jack Nicholson (Great American Things, Sept. 12, 2009) in one of his greatest performances, along with Faye Dunaway and John Huston. But the real star of the film was Robert Towne, the screenwriter. He set his mystery in the 1930s, allowing for the true noir mise-en-scene. (Pardon my French.)

Towne’s brilliant script won an Oscar, the only one the film received out of eleven nominations. In the AFI’s original 100 Years…100 Movies, Chinatown was ranked number 19. In the 10th anniversary edition, it was 21. And it was the AFI’s number 2 mystery film. Why it wasn’t number one is… a mystery.

Film: A Few Good Men

Jack Nicholson is wonderful as the arrogant Col. Jessup. Uploaded by i.cdn.turner.com.

Jack Nicholson is wonderful as the arrogant Col. Jessup. Uploaded by i.cdn.turner.com.

I’m a big fan of Aaron Sorkin’s writing. (You’ll eventually see a couple of his TV series in this list.) And A Few Good Men is, above all else, a wonderfully written film.

It starred Tom Cruise back when we liked him. And a wonderfully pompous Jack Nicholson. Even the minor parts were wonderfully cast, with Cuba Gooding, Jr., Kiefer Sutherland, Noah Wyle, Christopher Guest, and J.T. Walsh demonstrating why they would go on to be bigger stars.

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Uploaded by japattie.info.

A Few Good Men is essentially a courtroom drama that climaxes in the famous “I want the truth!” “You can’t handle the truth!” confrontation between Cruise and Nicholson. “You can’t handle the truth” was selected as the 29th greatest movie quote of all time by the American Film Institute. The AFI also ranked the movie as the fifth greatest courtroom drama ever.

Oh, one story that’s the kind of lore we love about movies. A defendent that Tom Cruise’s character Lt. Kaffee defends was Lance Corporal Harold Dawson, played by Wolfgang Bodison. But Bodison never tried out for the part – he was working as a location scout for the film. Director Rob Reiner thought he looked like a Marine, and suddenly Bodison had an acting career.