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Carnal Knowledge Terms of Endearment
In 1958. the twenty-one year-old Jack Nicholson made a fairly inauspicious film debttt in Cry-Baby Killer. a low-budget. post-Rebel Without A Cause opus about a mis- understood youth involved in potentially violettt delinquency. A B-picture ntade fora reputed $7000 in around ten days it has been hailed as ‘not the sort of film to provide anyone with instant stardom.‘
In 1988. Nicholson is back on screen as a booze-ettibalmed hobo seekirtg to tnake peace with his past in lronweed. The filnt has earned him
A. his ninth Academy Award nomination and once again underlined his unassailable position as a prodigious and versatile screen star.
Nicholson spent the first decade of his career itt low-budget. exploitation fare that could scarcely muster the credentials to qualify as B-pictures. Roger ('orman titles like Little Shop ol Horrors arid The Raven may have developed a minor league cult following but noone is particularly proud to have the likes ot‘Hell’s Angels on Wheels or Back Doorto Hell adorning their c.v. The unflappable Nicholson claims. ‘ I‘m very grateful for the rythmtt of my career. It's true that some of my early pictures were really horrible. and I'm happy that most people haven‘t seen them. But lwouldn't
in as a replacement. winning acclaim and art Oscar nomination as the straitjacketed smalltown lawyer who liberates himselt‘to join the hippie bikers on the road.
He has never looked back; inhabiting a staggering gallery of memorable individuals all
One Flew OverThe Cuckoo's Nest
laced with his own inimitable personality. He has become a gene ration's represetttative on screen; sardonic. cynical. manic and decidely anti- establtshment. Among fits most distinguished credits are the bewildered contemporary heroofFive Easy Pieces. the well-meaning marine escort ot‘The Last Detail. detective .lake ( iitlcs iii the classic Chinatown. the non-conformist Randall Patrick .‘ychurphy in One Flew Overthe Cuckoo's Nest. the mad dad in The Shining. liugene ()‘Ncill in Reds. the gone toseed astronaut in Terms til Endearment. the Neanderthal love- besotted assassin in Prizzi's Honourand the devilish charmer of last year's monster ltit The Witches of Eastwick.
An actor for all seasons. he has written scripts. directed and has a reputation as a thorough professional who takes his work seriously but net er himself. [it a rtew book entitled The Films olJack Nicholson ((‘ohimhusi. Douglas Brodie writes. '.lack drew on two different but equally admirable traditions. ()n the one hand. he appeared a throwback to the great starsof the 'I‘hirtiesantl liortics. with a presence that reminded viewers and critics of Bogart and (iarfield; on the other. he was clearly the spiritual
have wanted to be successful as a young actor. because then you’re placed in the position w here you ltave to mature offstagef
The calibre of Nicholson's screen assignments was generally so artistically and financially anaemic that in 1907 he couldn't evert obtain an interview for a role in The Graduate. The same year he was denied the role of Buck itt Bonnie and Clyde because of his alleged similarity to star Warren Beatty. Then his luck changed when Rip Torn w as unavailable for
Easy Rider and he stepped
descendant of such alienated loncrs of the l‘ifties and Sixties as Brando and ('lift ' The cry-baby killer has dried his tears. sealed acting mountains and clearly emerged as the ntost influential. charismatic and talented actor of his generation.
'The List [0— 23 June 1988 7