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Film

Jack Nicholson’s least favourite movie is a 1980s classic

Together with figures like Bill Murray, Harrison Ford and Eddie Murphy, The Shining actor Jack Nicholson held an influential place at the very top of the Hollywood hierarchy. Known as one of the most celebrated ever to walk the silver screen – the reverberations of Nicholson’s remarkable career are still felt to this day, with roles in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Chinatown becoming iconic in their own right.

A creative performer and liberal thinker, Nicholson’s indelible impact on late 20th-century culture is illustrated in the 1969 release of Dennis Hopper’s Easy Rider, where the actor plays an eccentric dope-smoking lawyer and a character who bridges the gap between being a member of the stiff establishment and the progressive bohemian subculture that thrived in the 1960s and 1970s. 

Joining the ranks of similar stylish cult favourites like Marlon Brando, Peter Fonda and Harry Dean Stanton, Nicholson established himself as a maverick emblem of the Hollywood golden age from the 1970s through until the end of the millennium. 

From independent features to large Hollywood projects, Nicholson enjoyed a fruitful career spanning over half a century, working with the biggest names in the industry, including Stanley Kubrick, Martin Scorsese, Michelangelo Antonioni, Roman Polanski and Miloš Forman. This career wasn’t just in front of the camera either, with Nicholson directing three films throughout his time in the industry, the most successful of which being the crime drama, The Two Jakes, released in 1990.

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As a result, Nicholson remained tapped into the wants and desires of the contemporary zeitgeist, particularly in a cinema industry where tastes change on a monthly basis. 

This proved difficult for Nicholson on at least one occasion, with the release of the successful John Hughes film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off in 1986 significantly confusing the actor and director. Leaving him at a loss, Nicholson told New York Times at the time of the film’s release, “Well, that movie made me feel totally irrelevant to anything that any audience could want and 119 years old”. 

Continuing in his puzzled rant, he added, “Believe me, everyone else watching it liked it. And you know, I literally walked out of there thinking my days are numbered. These people are trying to kill me”. 

In fact, he disliked the film so much that in the biography How Jack Nicholson Became the Biggest Movie Star in Modern Times, written by Dennis McDougal, is quoted as saying that the ‘80s classic is “one of Jack’s least-favorite movies”. 

Considered an iconic movie of the 1980s, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off starred Matthew Broderick, Alan Ruck and Charlie Sheen and was arguably the jewel in the crown of John Hughes’ glittering filmography, check out the trailer, below.

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