- Five Easy Pieces
- Little Big Man
- Bed And Board
- A Drama Of Jealousy
- Diary Of A Mad Housewife
- Love Story
- The Wild Child
He would go on to achieve fame for his crafty voice and shit-eating grin, and like many of his generation would become a parody of himself in pay cheque movies in his later years. Did you know, though, that the best performance that Jack Nicholson ever gave was in a film that prevented him from relying on any of these traits? As the wandering drifter in Five Easy Pieces, he taps into an inner pain that sees him examining his own feelings of failure in a world that asks him to prove himself, a responsibility from which he quickly runs away.
An Oscar nomination for her delightful performance in the feminist comedy of Diary Of A Mad Housewife should have provided Carrie Snodgress with a better career to follow. With her adorably quirky looks and gravelly voice she was exactly what the seventies were calling for, but she not long afterwards gave it all up to raise her children (with Neil Young) and, by the time she was ready to come back to work, the industry didn’t have much to offer her. She died, sadly, of cancer at the age of 58 and this film remains the high point of her career.
Little Big Man is probably Arthur Penn’s best film, a comedic, sprawling epic about one man’s journey throughout the American frontier and the changes that led to the expansion of the nation. Dustin Hoffman is terrific in the lead, and Faye Dunaway lends a lot of charisma to her scenes as the preacher’s wife who can’t wait to be led astray, but both of them are knocked off the screen every time Chief Dan George is on screen. George was still relatively new to the movies but it never shows in the film, his sterling performance always riveting; naturally, the movies had no idea what to do with him afterwards, though he has a fun cameo in Harry & Tonto four years later.
The Academy very stupidly gave the prize to Helen Hayes for her twee old lady bit in Airport, which even she must have found ridiculous. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were simply embarrassed with riches from the other choices: Karen Black is brilliantly quirky as Jack Nicholson’s abused girlfriend in Five Easy Pieces, while Sally Kellerman stops the show cold with her insanely funny reactions to the madness that is MASH. It’s not easy to be a woman in a war movie, but for some reason Kellerman shows no sign of fatigue in having to compete for screen time with her brilliantly dry co-stars Elliott Gould and Donald Sutherland.
Robert Altman, MASH