List of Jack Nicholson Movies

Jack Nicholson

Born John Joseph Nicholson on the 22nd of April 1937 in Manhattan, New York Jack Nicholson's life was a little less than ordinary. His father had abandoned him at birth and grew up thinking his grandmother was his mother and his mother was his older sister. He only found that this wasn't the case in 1974 after both his mother and grandmother had passed away. It was discovered by a magazine researcher that was set to do an interview with Nicholson.

Nicholson grew up going through school being referred to by his friends as Nick and gaining popularity being tagged as the "Class Clown" by his alumni at Manasquan High School in Manasquan, New Jersey. A theatre and drama award are named for the actor honoring his achievements.

Nicholson's early years in Hollywood saw him running errands at the MGM studio for the legendary animation duo Hanna-Barbera. While working there his artistic abilities were noticed and Nicholson was offered a job as an animator. He declined the position knowing that this was not the career he wanted. Nicholson was meant for acting fame and something told him he would be a star.

Jack Nicholson at Cannes, 2002 / Photo by Georges Biard
Jack Nicholson at Cannes, 2002 / Photo by Georges Biard

Nicholson's Film Career

Nicholson went on to make his film debut in a low budget film The Cry Baby Killer (1958) where he landed the title role. Over the next decade he worked on numerous occasion with producer Roger Corman.

The most popular of these collaborations being The Little Shop of Horrors (1960). The film's budget was a mere $30,000 a far cry from the budget of Nicholson's later films. Nicholson and Corman also came together for other films including The St. Valentines Day Massacre, The Raven and The Terror.

Nicholson began frequently working with director Monte Hellman who directed him in a handful of low budget western flicks. One of the more notable of these films was The Shooting (1967) The film's failed to gain much attention in the states but caused a lot of buzz in France and gained cult status. The films were later sold to television.

His film career really started to take off when he meet Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda when they were working on a film for which he had wrote the screenplay The Trip (1967). This led to the trio working together in the film Easy Rider(1969). This was his first true acting job. He would gain recognition and an Oscar nomination for his portrayal.

The next decade saw a great explosion of success for Nicholson including an Academy Award nomination a Best Actor award from Cannes and a memorable roll in Roman Polanski's Chinatown (1974). Including Nicholson's nomination for Best Actor the film received 11 Academy Award nominations.

Stanley Kubrik's adaptation of Stephen King's The Shining (1980) had Nicholson playing one of his most significant roles of his life time. Nicholson delivered one of his greatest and most recognized acting jobs in this movie. The film landed no academy Award nominations but lives on as one of the best masterpieces of horror ever taken from page to screen.

Five years later Nicholson would find himself teamed with a coven of scorned women in The Witches of Eastwick (1987). The film was based on a novel of the same name written by John Updike it was a creative mix of comedy and horror. It was nominated for numerous awards one of which Nicholson received was a Saturn Award for Best Actor.

Nicholson filmed the courtroom drama A Few Good Men (1992) with actor Tom Cruise and Actress Demi Moore. The film was about a trial that followed a murder within the ranks of the U.S. Marine Corp. The filmwas based on a play written by Aaron Sorkin. It was a high intensity film that profiled the struggles of a lawyer trying to defend two Marines accused of murdering a fellow Marine.

As Good as It Gets (1997) was a romantic-comedy were Nicholson plays an novelist with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) who falls for a waitress played by Helen Hunt. What ensues is a dramatic and often funny romance as he gets closer to Helen Hunts character. The film was 7 Academy Awards including Best Actor which went to Nicholson for his role as Melvin Udall.

Anger Management (2003) found Nicholson playing a therapist who tries to help Dave Buznik played by Adam Sandler who was sentenced to anger management classes after being found guilty for assault. Nicholson's character uses some unconventional therapy to help cure Buznik causing a series of comedic and romantic events as Sandler's character tries to win back the affection of his would be fiance.

The comedy-drama The Bucket List (2007) paired Nicholson with fellow Academy Award winning actor Morgan Freeman. The film follows two terminally ill men that trek the globe looking for adventure and trying to knock certain events off of a list of "Things to Do Before I Die". The film received mixed reviews but was named one of the Top Ten Films of the Year for 2007.

Jack Nicholson Movie List


The Little Shop of Horrors

The Little Shop of Horrors (1960)

This film stars a plant that eats and thrives on human blood and flesh. Nicholson played a small role in the film but he has been credited for promotions of the film across the US. The film profiles a flower shop with very few customers that employs a clumsy flower arranger by the name of Seymour Krelboin. Seymour is fired after messing up an arrangement and in order to save his job tells the shop owner of a crossbred of Butterwort and a Venus Flytrap. What happens next is nothing short of crazy and comical.

Easy Rider (1969)

Easy Rider is a film that follows two devil may care bikers travelingacross America from Los Angeles to New Orleans. The film stars Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper as two bikers seeking freedom in America's heartland. Their purpose is to reach New Orleans in time for Mardi Gras. Along the way the two find a small town which is having a parade as they pass through. They decide to take part in the parade and are quickly arrested and jailed for parading without a permit. While in jail the meet Nicholson's character George Hanson a town drunk and local lawyer who helps get them out of jail. With their freedom restored Hanson decides to join them on their journey.

Five Easy Pieces on DVD

Five Easy Pieces (1970)

A classical pianist from an upper class family Robert Dupea (Jack Nicholson) struggles to keep his life together in a California oil field. He learns that his waitress girlfriend played by Karen Black is pregnant and decides to leave with her for Los Angeles to search out for his sister who's also a classical pianist. Once in L.A. his sister informs him that their father has survived two strokes and urges him to return home. His return home quickly becomes a problem for everyone in Dupea's life.

Carnal Knowledge on DVD

Carnal Knowledge (1971)

Carnal Knowledge covers almost three decades of the lives of two fellow college students Jonathan and Sandy played by Nicholson and Art Garfunkal. Their lives are chronicaled over a 25 year period from their college years in the 50's to the early 70's. The two meet in college and begin to explore the female of the species.

Chinatown (1974)

In Chinatown Nicholson plays Private detective Jake Gittes who specializes in matrimonial investigations. He is hired by Faye Dunaway's character Evelyn Mulwray who thinks her husband Hollis Mulwray the architect of the cities water supply is having an affair. Mr. Mulwray is found dead and Gittes finds himself in the middle of a murder case, corruption within the cities water supply and things much more strange than he had ever encountered before.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)

McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) is a criminal who believes he can get out of work detail with the other prisoners by claiming to be insane. When his bluff is called he finds himself committed to a mental asylum. However he can't seem to escape the clutches of a warden as he soon finds out that the head nurse has his number and is not going to be taken for a fool. Every move McMurphy makes is closely watched and scrutinized by her no matter what he does she can not be shaken.

The Shining (1980)

This classic psychological thriller directed by Stanley Kubrick's is whirlwind of horror in the secluded Overlook Hotel. Jack Torrance ( Jack Nicholson) is hiredas the caretaker for the property as the winter months approach and the hotel is shutdown. Jack plans to bring his family along and enjoy the peace and quiet as he writes a novel. The hotel has a haunted past brought on by it's previous caretaker who caught cabin fever and went on a killing spree murdering his whole family. Will this happen to Jack and will his family surcome to the same fate?

Terms of Endearment on DVD

Terms of Endearment (1983)

Terms of Endearmentfollows two women, mother and daughter, Aurora (Shirley Maclaine) and Emma (Debra Winger) as they search for love. After her marriage to Flap Horton (Jeff Daniels) falls apart Emma decides to return home. Sam Burns (John Lithgow) quickly becomes Emma's love interest. Aurora finds Garrett Breedlove (Jack Nicholson) a retired astronaut to be an adequate suitor after garnering much interest from other men in the area. The film shows that relationships can be rocky no matter where you look for it.

The Witches of Eastwick on DVD

The Witches of Eastwick (1987)

Three friends all divorcees in a small town coastal town in New England who all feel sexual and emotionally restrained due to the lack of suitable men in Eastwick. One day after a night of the women sitting around pondering what the perfect man would be in steps Daryl Van Horne played by Nicholson. Horne is a brazen and often vulgar man but nonetheless manages to cultivate all the characteristics the women find to be necessary in the perfect man and seduces all three women. What will happen when they find out what he has done and they decide to take revenge on Horne?

Batman (1989)

Gotham City's mysterious crime fighting man in black Batman (Micheal Keaton) finds himself at odds with a colorful villain who refers to himself as The Joker played by Nicholson. This homicidal make-up wearing madman and his henchmen run all over Gotham City wrecking havoc and leaving a wake of fear and graffiti everywhere they go. Will Batman emerge victorious, bring an end to his reign of terror and continue to serve and protect Gotham City?

A Few Good Men (1992)

When two Marines are accused of murdering a fellow Marine, Navy lawyer Lt. Daniel Kaffee played by Tom Cruise is in charge of defending them. Kaffee who has never seen the inside of a courtroom and who is known for his laziness tries to cut a plea deal. One of the defendants is displeased with this and gets Cmdr. Galloway played by Demi Moore to represent him.

Hoffa on DVD

Hoffa (1992)

This is a biographical film based on the life and times of legendary teamsters union leader Jimmy Hoffa played by Jack Nicholson. Most of the film is told by a series of flashbacks that tell the story of the founding of the teamsters union and Jimmy Hoffa's involvement with the group. The film calls into question the various illegal activites of Hoffa. A congressional hearing is called and Hoffa is under scrutiny by Robert Kennedy who later becomes Attorney General. This makes life for Hoffa increasingly difficult to continue his illeagal use of Teamster funds and activites with the mob. 

Wolf on Blu-ray and DVD

Wolf (1994)

Will Randall (Jack Nicholson) is bitten by a wolf one night driving while driving home in Vermont. Randall's misfortune continues to snowball as he is replaced by his protege Stewart Swinton (James Spader) as editor in chief at the publishing house where he is employed. It also turns out that Swinton is having an affair with Randall's wife. Randall begins to go through some extreme changes and taking on characteristicsof a wolf. Randall starts a love affair with his bosses daughter Laura (Michelle Pfeiffer) who tries to help him put the pieces of his life back together but will Randall's increasingly aggressive and wolf like behaviour jeopardize everything for him?

As Good As It Gets on DVD

As Good As It Gets (1997)

Melvin Udall (Jack Nicholson) is an obsessive-compulsive, misanthropic writer. He has breakfast at the same place every morning and his waitress Carol Connelly (Helen Hunt) is the only person that can tolerate Melvin's behaviour. Melvin grows fond of Carol as he spends his morning in the diner where she works. One day Melvin's homosexual neighbor (Greg Kinnear) is assaulted and Melvin is forced to care for his dog. While at first Melvin is put off by the thought of caring for the dog he becomes attached to him. This sets off something in Melvin that may end up changing his life forever.

Anger Management (2003)

Dave Buznik played by Adam Sandler is a businessman who allows his boss to take credit for most of his ideas and has affection problems with his girlfriend. Dave finds himself in trouble after a misunderstanding aboard an airplane. The court finds him guilty and sentences him to anger management under the care of Dr. Buddy Rydell played by Jack Nicholson. Dave soon finds that Dr. Rydells therapy is rather unconventional and he may be after more than just curing his anger problems.

The Departed (2006)

The Departedtakes place in Boston's south side were Frank Costello an Irish-American gang leader (Jack Nicholson) runs things on both sides of the law. One of his thugs Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) manages to infiltrate the ranks of the Boston State Police. While a rookie undercover cop (Leonardo DiCaprio) manages to do the same landing himself inside the ring leaders inner circle. Things get complicated as the two groups realize there maybe a rat among them. Damon and DiCaprio's characters must act quickly to expose one another.

The Bucket List on Blu-ray and DVD

The Bucket List (2007)

Corporate billionaire Edward Cole played by Nicholson learns that he has cancer and ends up in the hospital. Once there he meets a man from a world quite different than that of his own. Carter Chambers played by Morgan Freeman is a working class mechanic who also has cancer. While rooming with Chambers the two decide to leave the hospital and embark on a journey to do the things the have always wanted to do before they die. During their adventure they discover excitement, thrills and build a friendship to last a lifetime.

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Comments 2 comments

suziecat7 profile image

suziecat7 6 years ago from Asheville, NC

This is a very comprehensive look at a favorite actor. Thanks - thumbs up!

Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia

Great hub....I enjoyed reading your capsule reviews of Nicholson. Voted up

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