Happy 86th Birthday Jack Nicholson! Celebrating An Icon’s Greatest Films!

“Forget it, Jake, it’s Chinatown.”

One of cinema’s greatest lines – not said by Jack Nicholson, but to him!

Time to celebrate the 86th birthday of this legendary Actor!


Nicholson has an astonishing 12 Academy Award nominations, including three wins — his first for the 1975 Best Picture winner “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”

He won Best Supporting Actor in 1984 for “Terms of Endearment” and Best Actor in 1998 for “As Good as It Gets.”

The number of awards he has received are too numerous to mention – and what a body of work! Here are just a few of his masterful performances over the years:

“The Last Detail” is an incredible film – hilariously profane and gritty, what Nicholson became known for – oh, and did you know that prior to this, he wrote this screenplay?

That’s right, Jack was part of The Monkees movie “Head!”

See a look at both of these films by clicking here:

“Chinatown” is a masterpiece as well for the Actor, and a new book tells the story of how the film came tougher – it offers a lot of insight into Nicholson’s work ethic and life at the time. Click here to see more:


Mr. Oscar!

Nicholson holds the record for the most Oscar nominations – 12 – and he has created some of the most memorable characters of all time…from “The Shining” to “Batman” and more…



Here is the classic trailer for a classic film…

jack nicholson retires

Simply put, “Chinatown” is one of the greatest films of all time. Directed by Roman Polanski, starring Jack Nicholson as LA Private Detective Jake Gittes, Faye Dunaway as Evelyn Mulwray, and legendary Director John Huston as LA Businessman Noah Cross…

Noah Cross: “You’ve got a nasty reputation, Mr. Gittes. I like that.”

‘Jake’ Gittes is a private detective who seems to specialize in matrimonial cases. He is hired by Evelyn Mulwray when she suspects her husband Hollis, builder of the city’s water supply system, of having an affair.

Of course, it is much much more than that.

One classic moment in the film occurs when Jack gets too curious one night checking out one of the city’s reservoirs…

Man with Knife: “You’re a very nosy fellow, kitty cat. Huh? You know what happens to nosy fellows? Huh? No? Wanna guess? Huh? No? Okay. They lose their noses.”

Director Polanski plays the tough guy with the knife, and Nicholson had a nose bandage for the rest of the movie…the scene where Roman Polanski slits Jack Nicholson’s nose was extremely complex to film…

Ultimately, Polanksi and Nicholson got so tired of explaining how it was done (by using a specially-constructed knife with a short hinge that would be safe as long as it was handled VERY carefully) that they began to claim Nicholson’s nose was actually cut.

It led to this hilarious exhange when a cop tries to make fun of the injury:

Loach: “What happened to your nose, Gittes? Somebody slammed a bedroom window on it?”
Jake Gittes: “Nope. Your wife got excited. She crossed her legs a little too quick. You understand what I mean, pal?”

This movie is perfect: the writing, directing, and acting are all flawless…and it ends with one of the most iconic movie lines of all time:

“Forget it, Jake, it’s Chinatown.”

Oh, and speaking of iconic movie lines, here’s another of the most repeated:

“Here’s JOHNNY!”

On the other end of the acting spectrum is one of Nicholson’s wildest efforts – for the legendary Director Stanley Kubrick – I am referring, of course, to one of the best horror films ever made:

“The Shining”!

“Some places are like people: some shine and some don’t.”

Legendary Director Stanley Kubrick had already blown our minds with “Dr. Strangelove”, “Lolita” and “2001: A Space Odyssey”, chilled us to core with the futuristic horror of “A Clockwork Orange”, and dazzled us with the lyrical beauty of “Barry Lyndon”…now he wanted us to spend a little time with his friend Jack Nicholson…

Based on a Stephen King novel, the plot is simple: A man, his son and wife become the winter caretakers of an isolated hotel. Six months of quiet desolation, a place for Danny to explore…

Unfortunately, Danny sees disturbing visions of the hotel’s past using a telepathic gift known as “The Shining”. Example? How about the twins he sees in the hallway…

And then of course, Danny sees more…

And there is no one for Danny to share this with…as the horrific images continue…

Jack Nicholson plays the father with an intense glee, from the beginning of the film seemingly on the edge of madness!


To announce this film, Warner Brothers released a teaser trailer that had just this one shot:

Stanley Kubrick, known for his compulsiveness and numerous retakes, got the shot of blood pouring from the elevators in only three takes. This would be remarkable if it weren’t for the fact that the shot took nine days to set up; every time the doors opened and the blood poured out, Kubrick would say, “It doesn’t look like blood.”

Shelley Duvall stars as Jack’s wife, who wants nothing more than to protect their child from evil…

Stanley Kubrick was a perfectionist, and according to IMDB, there is a great deal of confusion regarding the number of retakes of certain scenes. According to the Guinness Book of Records, the scene where Wendy is backing up the stairs swinging a baseball bat at her husband was shot 127 times, which is a record for the most takes of a single scene. However, both Steadicam operator Garrett Brown and assistant editor Gordon Stainforth say this is inaccurate – the scene was shot about 35-45 times. Brown does say however that the scene where Hallorann explains to Danny what shining is was shot 148 times, which is a world record.

Of course, when Jack finally snaps, he grabs a handy ax and heads for the bathroom….

This scene culminates in the classic movie line “Here’s Johnny!”

“Here’s Johnny!” was voted 36th best line of all time by Premiere in 2007.

And let’s not forget that he wasn’t afraid to chew the scenery:

He was a perfect Joker to Michael Keaton’s Batman in the early 80’s…he was fearless!

He also had a knack for quirky offbeat films as well – like his directorial debut:

This 1971 film is part of a great box set of early 70’s films – take a look:

A basketball star (William Tepper) beds a professor’s wife (Karen Black), while his anti-war roommate (Michael Margotta) goes mad.

Jack also liked to team up with other A listers as well:

Nicholson eased into the later years of his career with effortless romantic comedies like this one – and since it was shot in Paris, I ate at the iconic restaurant they filmed in!

Yes, they have a poster in the window – and the food is worth the trip – here’s what I ordered, along with a look at the film:

Jack had one more scenery-chewing performance still in him – the 2006 winner for Best Picture “The Departed”, directed by Martin Scorsese…brilliant stuff!

My Jack Nicholson Moment!

I got to work with a lot of celebs, but never had the chance to interview Jack…this is the closest I got…here is a picture I captured once – he passed me at the Cannes film festival, on his way to a press conference…I instinctively took a picture and got just a twinkle in the eye…

jack nicholson cannes film festival

Sadly, this photo was widely disseminated last week, leading to speculation about his health:

I think its a shame that disreputable paparazzi stoop so low as to invade someones privacy…let’s remember the incredible career he has had instead of stalking him:

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If you like this story, please share with friends on social media – thanks!

Happy birthday Jack – let me know your favorite Jack Nicholson role!

Jack Nicholson Retires

Categories: 70's Cinema, Academy Awards, Action Films, Art, Awards, Books / Media, Comedy Movies, Cult Movies, Film Fight Club, Film Noir, Great Films, Hollywood, Horror films, Memoirs, Movies, Pop Culture, Talent/Celebrities

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15 replies

  1. Happy birthday to him…surprised that he’s 86 yrs old!!👀🎉🎂


  2. Wow, he’s 86? My favourite two films of his are ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ and ‘The Bucket List’. He often appears slightly mad in his films, lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi John, a great post about my favourite actor. Jack Nicholson is amazing and I loved him in The Shining. The journalists should not be allowed to print private pictures of people without their consent. It is a contravention of a basic human right to privacy.


  4. A most original character. I loved his early career.


  5. happy birthday to a one of a kind, one of my all-time fav actors


  6. One of my favorite actors. People should not be able to be photographed without their permission. While watching the basketball game tonight, I noticed he doesn’t seem to come to the Lakers games much anymore.


  7. So many great movies- Happy Birthday, Jack! Shame on the paparazzi. Who looks good first thing in the morning, especially in your 80’s?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. For me, Jack has ruined so many films with his outrageous overacting. (The Departed, The Shining, and many more.)
    However, I adore ‘Chinatown’, ‘The Passenger’, and ‘As Good As It Gets’, so he is definitely able to act with nuance. I just wish he had done that more often.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person


  1. Lisa Marie’s Week In Review: 4/17/23 — 4/23/23 | Through the Shattered Lens

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