Artist: Ryan Milner
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10. “The Shining” (1980) Jack Torrance
As Nicholson plays the family-man-turned-homicidal-maniac, the drive to crazytown isn’t a long one; even at the beginning, he’s full of none-too-latent hostility and violence. Still, there’s not a whole lot in modern cinema that’s more thoroughly terrifying than the full-blown psychotic Nicholson on his final rampage.
11. “Prizzi’s Honor” (1985) Charley Partanna
It can be hard for someone smart to play stupid, but Nicholson is convincing (and very funny) as a lovestruck hitman in John Huston’s sly Mafia satire.
12. “Carnal Knowledge” (1971) Jonathan
In this brutally frank tour of the sexual revolution from the point of view of two male pals (romantic Art Garfunkel and more blatantly misogynistic Nicholson), director Mike Nichols tells you more about men’s secret hearts than you ever wanted to know. Nicholson’s first of four films to date for Nichols, it’s a hard one to watch, thanks to Nicholson’s candid cruelty.
25. “The Raven” (1963) Rexford Bedlo
Nicholson doesn’t have much to do in Roger Corman’s imaginative adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s poem, but it’s fun to see him share the screen with such veteran creeps as Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, and Boris Karloff.
26. “Goin’ South” (1978) Henry Lloyd Moon
As a director, Nicholson is credited in this western with giving Mary Steenburgen and John Belushi their first film roles. As a star, Nicholson does his director no favors. The character, an outlaw saved from the gallows via a marriage of convenience, is just another in the actor’s gallery of rogues and eccentrics.
27. “The Last Tycoon” (1976) Brimmer
Director Elia Kazan’s last movie, based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s last novel, featuring a cast of movie royals playing dress-up for a tale set in golden-age Hollywood, should have been a bigger deal, but it turned out to be little more than a footnote for everyone involved. That includes Nicholson, who acquits himself as an ambitious union boss — sort of a precursor to his role in “Hoffa” 16 years later.
Jack Nicholson as the mad Jack Torrance, in The Shining (1980).
Stanley Kubrick considered both Robert De Niro and Robin Williams for the role of Jack Torrance but decided against both of them. Kubrick didn’t think De Niro would suit the part after watching his performance in Taxi Driver, as he deemed De Niro not psychotic enough for the role. He didn’t think Williams would suit the part after watching his performance in Mork & Mindy, as he deemed him too psychotic for the role. According to Stephen King, Kubrick also briefly considered Harrison Ford. (via)