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Entries in julie christie (3)


In Which Warren Beatty Is A Dirtbag For The Ages

Warren Beatty In Love


If I have a fault in relation to women, it's that I'm too dependent on love. When I'm deeply involved and all is not going well, my creative impulses become somewhat sublimated. I used to think the answer was not to get involved.

Warren Beatty was wild about Joan Collins. He was enthusiastic about his relationship with her beyond anything he had sampled before. As Warren's friend Verne O'Hara put it, "Sex drives Joan. She was besotted with him. And he was besotted with her." He defended her acting ability constantly, with his fists if necessary. He also used her for his own ends; suggesting she leave the set of a British adaptation of Sons and Lovers as the cast left for England because the publicity she attracted was more useful to him by his side. She was something in Hollywood, and that was what he wanted to be.

For her part, she was devoted to him, and he even bought an engagement ring for her, a gold beacon surrounded by emeralds and diamonds. In January of 1959, they moved into a tiny studio apartment in the Chateau Marmont.

on the set of 'A Loss of Roses'At 22, Beatty was a veritable ball of energy, utilizing his photographic memory for phone numbers to make hundreds of calls a day in between fucks. He resisted proposing to Collins because he simply could not get cast. It was Elia Kazan putting him in the William Inge, Kansas-set morality play Splendor in the Grass that began his career better than lhis sideshow act with Collins ever could. (The magnetic Natalie Wood was his co-star.) Right before his first day on the set of Splendor, Collins became pregnant, and aborted the child quietly so as not to alert the press. The next day production began. When Beatty faltered opposite his celebrated costar, Kazan said, "Pretend it's Joan, Warren."

wardrobe test for 'splendor in the grass' from elia kazan's private albumBeatty was so incredibly into himself that he began weight-training during the production to make sure he looked his best onscreen. When teenage girls around the production noticed megastars Collins and Wood but not him, Warren righted the wrong by arranging for another group to giggle loudly during his scenes. Eventually Joan Collins had to go to Rome to shoot Raoul Walsh's Esther and the King, and while she was there Beatty became convinced she was unfaithful to him.

on the set of 'The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone' with Vivien Leigh and girlfriend Joan CollinsAs his time on The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone was ending, he wrote to agent Eleanor Kilgallen from London:

Dear Eleanor,

Don't ask me why all of a sudden I'm able to write letters. I don't know. Anyway – I'm through with the picture now. I have just a little dubbing and stuff to do and that will be it. Next I want to go to Paris and then on to Rome and anywhere else that is interesting and everything is interesting.

with Joan CollinsAs you know – this is the first time I haven't had to worry about where my next dollar is coming from and it is making a lot of things more enjoyable for me. I have been offered several scripts – but I don't know what I am going to do...some people over here have offered me a thing called Bird of Passage (which I am)...

I think I will be a few more weeks over here in the old world before New York – But who knows, they may call me back to accept an academy award for last year...



with joan collinsAlthough he and Collins were still engaged, they had already called off a planned wedding and were continents apart. He went after Julie Newmar in Rome without success and sought consolation with the daughter of Actors Studio founder Lee Strasberg, Susan, in Rome. He had sex with her continuously, notably in Luchino Visconti's bathroom. (Visconti was older, gay and loved Beatty.)

in an episode of the hitchcock tv series 'Suspicion'When Beatty returned to Los Angeles, his relationship with Collins consisted largely of fighting and fucking. She eventually ended it when she saw he would not. On the promotional tour for Splendor in the Grass, the previously unfriendly Natalie Wood, freshly divorced and starving herself down to 88 pounds, began to know get to know Warren better. It's amazing she didn't run screaming in the other direction.

The press jumped all over Warren as a homewrecker because Natalie would not publicly reveal that her ex-husband Robert Wagner was the cause of the divorce. In any case, the relationship sold the movie well, and continued to bring attention Beatty's way.

on the set of 'The Only Game In Town'

After the release of Splendor in the Grass, Beatty took up residence at the Delmonico Hotel on 59th Street and Park Avenue in New York. His relationship with Wood stood in stark contrast to the life he shared with Collins. Joan was a carefree, happy woman; Wood was depressive, serious and self-involved. As the romance began to fall apart, Beatty's behavior became increasingly extreme. On a blind date with one woman, he invited her to a restaurant he knew was closed, took her back to his house, closed the door and dropped his pants.

One of his one-night stands was an unknown 16 year old Cher, who later reflected that "I did it because my girlfriends were just so crazy about him, and so was my mother. I saw Warren, he picked me up, and I did it. And what a disappointment! Not that he wasn't technically good, or couldn't be good, but I didn't feel anything. So, for me, I felt there's no reason for you to do that again." Shortly thereafter, Warren began to see an analyst for the first time.

with natalie woodBeatty's infidelity towards Wood around Hollywood became an open secret. His signature move was calling women up in the middle of the night, when he would regale them with "What's new, pussycat?" Incredibly, this worked, but it wasn't necessarily the approach. Warren could be very sweet to women; he excelled at paying them the kind of attention they desired and he looked like a god. When Warren asked Wood to come say goodbye to him at an airport, she finally summoned the courage to dump him.

After a terrible experience filming Robert Rossen's Lilith, Beatty decided he wanted more control on future projects. Keen to promote himself off the failure, Beatty planted ludicrous items in the gossip columns about himself. One read: "Three girls who met each other at one of Warren Beatty's swinging bachelor parties in New York last week discovered that, in various years, they had all been Miss Sweden." To lend credence to the hyperbole, he took up with Italian babe Claudia Cardinale.

His savvy eye as a producer led him to a rough script by Billy Wilder's writing partner I.A.L. Diamond. After a co-producer heard Warren whisper his trademark seduction to one young woman, he suggested What's New, Pussycat as a title. The script, however, was dated. After Beatty's first choice to punch it up, Elaine May, declined, he settled on a young Jewish comic he'd seen perform in New York: Woody Allen. The day John Kennedy was assassinated, Beatty spent a cold morning trying to get Stanley Kubrick to direct the picture.

His new love was precociously beautiful French actress Leslie Caron. At 32, she was six years older than him. When they met, Caron was married to the English stage director Peter Hall, and the European coupling had already produced two young children. This of course meant nothing to Warren: Caron's background in ballet reminded Beatty of the career in dance shared by his mother and sister Shirley MacLaine, and Caron's marriage was falling apart. Peter Hall recalled that she flew to him in London and "after a couple of days, Leslie told me she was in love with Warren Beatty and had decided to leave me and go back to Hollywood."

Caron and Beatty were very close – she even administered oxygen out of a tank to him on the set of the film Mickey One. That didn't stop Warren from running around behind her back, including a particularly memorable jaunt at the Playboy Mansion.

with alexandra stewart on the set of Mickey OneThe road to Bonnie and Clyde began when Beatty met Esquire writer Robert Benton shortly after his breakup with Gloria Steinem in spring of 1963. Benton's despondency had led him to the films of François Truffaut (especially Jules and Jim), and the Texas-born writer and his friend David Newman began to write a script about Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker.

After the two showed their treatment to Truffaut himself (they could barely believe it), Truffaut considered Jean-Luc Godard as director, since Godard could speak better English, a choice later abandoned when the Paris-born director demanded they shoot it in New Jersey. Beatty inserted himself into events by picking the treatment for Bonnie and Clyde up off the desk of producer Harrison Starr. When he was cut out of What's New, Pussycat, he pursued his passion for the project, vowing he would have total control.

He had a remarkably similar attitude about his relationship with Caron, which was rocked by a messy custody case brought on by her ex-husband Peter Hall. Beatty found her an analyst. She later reflected: "Once he was interested in a woman, he would never let go. He enveloped her with his every thought. He wanted total control of her, her clothes, her make-up, her work. He took notice of everything. He sent every one of us to a psychoanalyst. He believed the experience was beneficial. He was right."

When his performance in Lilith was roundly slammed by critics, he slept with one of them, and his infidelity became even crazier. He had sex with Bernadette Peters after seeing her once onstage. When he paid $75,000 out of his own pocket for the rights to Bonnie and Clyde in 1965, his real Hollywood career began.

Beatty's first idea was to cast his sister as Bonnie and Bob Dylan as Clyde, which would have been extremely weird. He also thought about directing, but when he fell in love with the part of Clyde Barrow, both his sister and directing were out.

As with his previous relationships with starlets, Leslie Caron had to break up with Beatty. She was deeply hurt that Warren had dumped her from Bonnie and Clyde, and flew to England to be with her children. (Before he took up with Julie Christie, who he had glimpsed during a screening of Born Free, Beatty became infatuated with the married 44-year old Russian ballerina Maya Plisetskaya.)

curtis hanson's photoset of faye dunawayStill friendly with Natalie Wood, Beatty wanted her for the part of Bonnie, but director Arthur Penn didn't want a star. Jane Fonda said no. Tuesday Weld said no. Ann-Margret said no. Sharon Tate said no. Natalie Wood said no again. According to Beatty, "I was turned down by every living actress." After seeing her onstage, it was Penn who found Faye Dunaway, and photos taken by Curtis Hanson secured her the role.

Somehow, Warren kept his hands off her. Dunaway felt that if they were not platonic, it would ruin the film. A friend of Beatty's submitted in Suzanne Finstad's biography that "Warren didn't do it with Faye because Clyde was supposed to be impotent."

standing ovation at the montreal film festival for 'bonnie and clyde'Julie Christie was still on his mind. He drove out to Sausalito in a long white limo, circling for hours until he found where she was staying. Christie was different from most women he tried to seduce; she was completely without pretense or affectation, and initially resistant to his advances. But they got together anyway. Because of the resounding success of Bonnie and Clyde, Beatty was on top of Hollywood for the first time in his life. He turned down Roman Polanski's Rosemary's Baby, feeling it was "not important enough." It was the first in the string of immortal projects he passed on, many because he would be preoccupied by campaigning for George McGovern, including The Godfather, The Sting, and Butch Cassidy.

He fell in with Polanski anyway, joining a group of men who were more interested in testing the sexual limits of the sixties than the psychedelic ones. The parties were generally every Friday night, and operated out of the Chateau Marmont. Warren was particularly interested in threesomes. His lifestyle did not really bother Christie, who never desired marriage and had no desire for children or a family.

february 1966

The couple began to drift during the shooting of Robert Altman's McCabe and Mrs. Miller. Christie adored the director's improvisational style, but Beatty couldn't deal with it and forced Altman to storm off the set more than once. Things weren't much better between him and Christie. The two lived apart for much of the shoot and there was not much in the way of affection between them.

with his sister on the set of McCabe & Mrs. Miller Julie and Warren argued constantly. (He would become especially incensed with Christie over a sex scene she did in a Nicholas Roeg film, Don't Look Now.) McCabe and Mrs. Miller did not register with critics or at the box office, and Beatty directed his attention towards the project that would become Shampoo while acting in a variety of other films. Now 36, he was concerned with how aging would affect his box-office appeal. He even considered running for governor of California, figuring that if Reagan could do it, so could he.

with christie in the early 1970sAn affair with the actress Liv Ullmann was the final straw in his relationship with Christie. She would stay close to his sister, and despite his behavior, he was heartbroken over losing her. On the wild set of Shampoo, which he co-wrote with Robert Towne, he struggled with his feelings. The week before filming, he had found his dream house at the top of Mulholland Drive, where he began living with Jack Nicholson's ex-girlfriend Michelle Phillips. He renovated his new pad with an architect recommended by Candice Bergen.

here i dreamt i was an architect - warren's mulholland drive padBeatty was very protective of his relationship with Phillips, and she felt like she was being caged in his renovated house. They never went out. As Phillips said, "he doesn't want anyone to know I'm here." In some ways, he got along better with Michelle's seven-year old daughter Chynna. Although he told others that he wanted to marry his housemate, he was still seeing Christie from time to time behind Michelle's back, and then in front of her face. As Phillips later put it, "If you want a shallow relationship, I can recommend Warren Beatty."

nancy reagan, warren beatty, diane keaton After his successful life-after-death comedy Heaven Can Wait grossed $80 million and a number of Oscars, Beatty pursued another passion project, Reds. He became involved with the thirty-two year old Diane Keaton in 1978 after seeing her in Looking for Mr. Goodbar and becoming obsessed. She was blown away at the idea he would be interested in her – her Academy Award for Annie Hall had helped inflate her in his eyes.

Like many of his past girlfriends, Keaton was extremely demanding, and friends saw them as something like the parody of a middle-aged couple. When she saw that being faithful was not in his makeup, she took care not to fall in love. Keaton would also blame herself for the relationship's failure, saying, "To be with me was just too hard. I think Woody said that being with me was like walking on eggshells."

after winning an Oscar for 'Reds'Still, Keaton would not completely fade out of his life. New loves came in as fast as they had in his twenties. It is impossible to estimate how many women Beatty has actually been with, although some have said that it must number around four figures. Beatty maintained a variety of concurrent relationships through the one technique that never abandoned him: his superior phone conversation skills. In the early 1980, he seduced a vast array of actresses and models, including Mary Tyler Moore, Isabelle Adjani, Britt Eklund, Bitten Knudsen and Janice Dickinson.

with isabelle adjani and dustin hoffman on the set of ishtarSeveral things happened to change Warren's life at the end of the 1980s. The first was that the film he made with Elaine May, Ishtar, became one of the most spectacular failures in Hollywood history, and the second was that Beatty's favorite politican, Gary Hart, was destroyed by an extramarital with a 29 year old model. Because Hart's past and present was basically Beatty's own, the scandal hit him particularly hard, as if he himself had been accused of wrongdoing. The third thing to happen was that Warren's father died.

Dick Tracy, mined from the comics his father used to read to him, would become Beatty's life. A story in the Sunday Times found Beatty claiming that he identified with the protagonist of his comic adaptation as "an aging professional who never married." When he began to shoot the movie in 1989, he dumped actress Joyce Hyser for the 30 year old Madonna, who had been cast as Breathless Mahoney. In a change of pace, it was she who did the pursuing of Warren. According to Suzanne Finstad, he called one of his friends excitedly to say, "You won't believe this: I'm sleeping with Madonna!"

the comic that had a penis for a first nameSandra Bernhard recollected Madonna's premediated intercourse to Peter Biskind: "Madonna and I were in the back of a limo driving to some concert in LA, and she said, ‘Sandy, did you fuck Warren Beatty?’ I said, 'No.' And then a month later she started dating him. I always thought, what if I had said yes; would that have meant she wouldn’t have wanted him? The deal would have been off? I guess she was just testing the waters."

By the Oscars of next year, Madonna was too busy for Warren, and he could not find a date for the event. (He took Jack Nicholson.) As he prepared his next film, the mob drama Bugsy, an actress who auditioned for the part in Dick Tracy that had gone to Glenne Headley caught his attention.

The 31 year old Annette Bening had been a sexpot in Stephen Frears' The Grifters, and her full frontal nudity caught Beatty's attention right away. They met for lunch, and while Warren was sizing up her capacity for motherhood, she looked at the meeting as an audition, conscious that the man was a prolific romancer, and also twenty-one years her elder. He dated 22 year old model Stephanie Seymour for a few months to get his last bachelor urges out of his system and then focused on Bening, who he has been married to since 1992.

On the set of the remake of Love Affair, before their relationship had been consummated, Annette's parents came to visit. They all had a nice dinner together, and as her parents were leaving, he asked to speak to Annette in private. He said, "I want to tell you that I'm not making a pass at you, but if I were to be so lucky as to have that occurrence happen, that I want to assure you that I would try to make you pregnant immediately." He was true to his word, and the couple conceived Kathlyn Beatty that evening.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording. He twitters here and tumbls here. He last wrote in these pages about the art of the Third Reich.

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rehearsing with director jose quintero

"The Preakness" - Animal Collective (mp3)

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"Jailhouse" - Animal Collective (mp3)

making his TV debut


In Which We Break Jack Nicholson Down Again Into Five Easy Pieces

Playing Piano On Top Of A Truck In Traffic 


Five Easy Pieces, 1970

dir. Bob Rafelson


I encountered Jack Nicholson onscreen for the first time in 1997, when I saw James L. Brooks' As Good As It Gets. In that film Jack Nicholson plays a character whose entire existence requires the context of "Jack Nicholson" to make any sense. Here is how I saw it: a sad neurotic old man totally undeserving of love gets his wish fulfillment fantasy via a much younger waitress who doesn't really make any sense as a character and Greg Kinnear is gay. I had never been so mystified to see a movie win so many awards. "Man, Hollywood..." I said, shaking my head perplexedly and being fourteen.

I enjoy an intellectual romantic comedy as much as the next English major but I could not get behind that movie. We're all trying for Annie Hall but there's nothing worse than characters that assume your sympathy without really earning it. Woody's heroes are often horrible people but they manage to be sympathetic. Woody's worst movies have many of the same problems as As Good As It Gets. "You make me want to be a better man." What made you so sure you're such a bad man to begin with Jack? 

My freshman year of college I saw Carnal Knowledge, a movie which opens (semi-hilariously) with Jack Nicholson as a freshman in college. Suddenly I got Jack Nicholson. I got what As Good As It Gets had assumed I would already know. And I understood that the current Jack Nicholson, the grandfatherly type in sunglasses in the front row of the Oscars, still felt exactly the same inside as this guy I really wanted to fuck. And that was really weird, vaguely creepy, confusing, hot, and the very end of puberty.

1970s Jack Nicholson is THE man. He wins everyone over and gives the appearance of not trying. He walks into the room and pushes the needle off the record player. He looks incredible in clothes. He says something completely terrible and insulting and then is forgiven because he smiles to acknowledge that he knows he is being terrible. What he wants he just takes and if he can't get it he destroys property. He is charming but he is also evil. Are all charming people evil? Isn't that sort of what charm is about?

image probably repeated on This Recording the most times in different posts 

Jack Nicholson believes that men are innately different from women ("cunt...can't understand normal thinking") He thinks men have egos that overpower everything around them and appetites that require constant maintenance to be restrained. He does not understand that this is the human condition. It would be insulting to say that he is too old to learn this, but I suspect it is something he has secretly known all along, and that most of being Jack Nicholson is pretending to be "Jack Nicholson" for the enjoyment of people wishing to live vicariously through his imagined lifestyle.

That men have a brute sexuality uncomplicated by emotion is the biggest lie ever. So why is it pushed on us so hard, in Jack, James Bond and Jay-Z? It is the founding lie of rap music and pornography. Remember how cool Jay-Z used to be and how lame he is now that he's crazy in love with Beyoncé? Why did he seem so much cooler when he was pretending like no woman ever had any effect on him? Because the truth; that men are vulnerable, with emotional needs, things projected on people like Jennifer Aniston (who is fine, duh) is so deeply threatening to the present order of the universe. 

The men who admit to these vulnerabilities are free. To quote myself to myself: It's not emasculating if you like it. The other human condition is being deeply horribly sensitive in a way you are convinced must be specific to you. We are all the main protagonist of our own life. That is why Jack Nicholson is so beloved. He is bigger than everyone else onscreen. I don't think everyone who has a good live show hates themselves necessarily, but that is certainly the message suggested by Five Easy Pieces. Plenty of people just hate themselves and don't even have a good live show. 

There's an early scene where two girls hitting on Jack start talking about his hair and he looks tremendously worried all of a sudden, like they might start talking about how he is balding. That men have no physical insecurities is the other biggest lie ever. Vince Vaughn might not have any physical insecurities but damn dude you fell off SO HARD. In Husbands Cassavetes is constantly bringing up his own shortness. Can a woman have a Napoleon complex? I'd still like to be tall every time I'm at a show.

"Hey Dennis. Hey Dennis. Hey Dennis, man. Hey Dennis. I'm going to fuck your wife."

And yet young Jack Nicholson is as attractive as a person could possibly be, in part because he pretends not to care. Is it pretending not to care that is attractive? Actually never caring about anything is completely impossible. We all care in some situations and feel nothing in others. And then pretend to care/not care in various amounts. Thus is Don Draper. Bill Murray's whole pathos is perched on the gulf between them.

We associate sunglasses with cool, and Jack Nicholson with sunglasses. Sunglasses block the eyes from view, thus blocking others from being able to see what emotions a person is actually feeling. They do not prevent you from still feeling those emotions. A character like Jack Nicholson's Bobby in Five Easy Pieces, who so aggressively displays his ability to hurt people and not ever feel bad about it, is more terrified of getting hurt than anything. Hurting other people first is merely a preemptive strike.

Value is largely construct. Competition creates value. I guarantee you Warren Beatty never once left Julie Christie alone with Jack Nicholson. The reason Warren would never have left Julie Christie with Jack Nicholson is because he knows just how easily he Warren Beatty, the great seducer, was seduced by Jack. The weird thing about straight male sexual competition is how little it can have to do with women. That's why it is so refreshing when men treat you like a human being. That it is refreshing is depressing. 

Discussing the Warren Beatty/Jack Nicholson/Dustin Hoffman FMK post Julie Klausner and Natasha Vargas-Cooper wrote for The Hairpin (a truly astonishing piece of writing that is, to quote James L. Brooks on Annie Hall, "like watching a spaceship land") in an e-mail with me Klausner said "Well, the '60s caused the '70s. And in some cases, the '70s caused the '70s. These three bros basically caused the women's movement."

It is not hard to feel totally horrified reading the infamous Teri Garr AV Club interview where she talks about how Dustin Hoffman grabbed her ass in every take of a scene on Tootsie and Sydney Pollack thought it was hilarious. I get the impression this is why Megan Fox actually left Transformers. I want to radicalize Megan Fox so fucking bad. I am sure she has caught on by now that it is still always Mad Men somewhere.

Five Easy Pieces alternately celebrates and repudiates Jack Nicholson's brand of charisma. It is Easy Rider's black swan for sure. It understands that volatility is not without expense, but neither is it without enormous payoffs. Nicholson's character Bobby is not violent, but he uses speech as violently as The Shining's door axe chop. Talking is a sexual act and Jack Nicholson is always trying to fuck everything in sight.

The problem with being a woman and romanticizing a boys' club is that you would not actually be welcome. The fantasy of being welcome there is an impossible fantasy, one nobly attempted by Anjelica Huston. You never feel completely welcome, because your presence makes it into something else. Not all groups of men are boys' clubs. Boys' clubs specifically involve the exclusion of women with the occasional tokenism.

Five Easy Pieces is a slice of life movie. Much of the tension comes from putting characters in rooms together and then leaving the audience in suspense a little bit about what their relationship is to one another. You think Bobby is a blue collar drifter and then it turns out he's an upper class kid trying to escape his intellectual family. It's very beautiful and realist (László Kovács!), evoking Ed Ruscha in the oil fields portion and the figurative work of Fairfield Porter in the last act at the family estate.

The famous "chicken salad sandwich" scene, where Jack as Bobby (but let's face it, Jack) berates a waitress is about the way you put yourself on stage sometimes in order to perform your personality. Involuntary non-genuine performance (as in working retail) is different from voluntary genuine performance. Whether genuine performance is a contradiction is an ultimate question. I had just been talking with Tess about how we both often insist on ordering for everybody at restaurants. What the hell is that about? 

Performing yourself all the time is exhausting. That's why traveling with people is so hard. There's no person that doesn't need downtime from being themselves. The public self is such a weird thing, especially for women. Kartina Richardson wrote a great essay about Black Swan and bathrooms, bathrooms being one of the only places you can escape the gaze of others (also the only thing I remember about The Bell Jar).

Jack Nicholson can be a truly astonishing actor. He may be arrogant bordering on sociopathic, but he earned it with his performances. Towards the end of Five Easy Pieces there's a moment where he stops at a gas station bathroom, looks at himself in the mirror, and you can see him think "Who the fuck are you kidding?" The most performative actor when he speaks, Jack does subtle remarkable work with silences.

He illuminates the intimate connection between the two; performing one's self, which you attempt to control and through that control other people, and then just being one's self, which nobody can control. That's what makes him so magnetic as an actor. He is never just a dick. If he were really just a dick, he would not be nearly as interesting. Jack, it is implied, is only such a dick because he is so deeply emotional. Endlessly relentlessly unable to stop feeling things, always trying to silence his inner self. It is what makes his performance in Chinatown so insanely perfect and poignant.

In Five Easy Pieces Jack Nicholson expounds so much forceful energy creating and implementing his persona, and then is disgusted by anyone who can't immediately see through it to his white hot core of self-loathing. He can't respect anybody who'd respect him. Does Jack Nicholson actually hate himself? His films are constantly positing this as a corrective to his real life image and insane seeming levels of narcissism but it could just be wishful justification for him fucking Paz De La Huerta.

Lest you think only men can be Jack Nicholsons, I give you Paz De La Huerta and Angelina Jolie. All eight hundred kids aside, I'm not sure Angelina Jolie is capable of putting anyone before herself any more than Jack is. When you take Ayn Rand as gospel certainly you can achieve some ambitious goals, but other more mundane ones become impossible. Compromise is seen as weakness, and human relationships require compromise. You can't really love anyone without giving up some control.

Taylor Swift's insane crusade for true love is just as impossible and entitled as Jack Nicholson's endless fuckquest. What is so super hilarious about Taylor Swift and her surprise face is that no amount of fake humility can cover up her tremendous ego, her enormous feelings of entitlement, and barely-disguised Kenny Powers rage that she has not been immediately given everything she feels she justly deserves. She won't own up to her aggression. She is a Jack Nicholson who is a virgin who can't drive. 

Swift's experience with Taylor Lautner seemed to open her up somewhat to realizing that this thing she thought she wanted more than anything might not actually be what she wants at all. That there is a certain perverse pleasure in wanting and getting not necessarily present in having. That she desires John Mayer because she can't have him and doesn't care about Lautner until he is unavailable. That on a sick level she wants it to be hard, correlates difficulty to satisfaction, and like Jack is making everything impossible for herself. Hopefully she figures out next that she's primarily just horny.

Warren Beatty fell in love onscreen a hundred times before he ever fell in love. It's like the gap between John Mayer's music and John Mayer. If Jack Nicholson tells us in films and interviews that he is sensitive, that what he really desires is to be dominated by a woman with a personality as strong as his, does it matter if he's really still out fucking twenty year old cocktail waitresses? I am sure nobody finds the idea that getting laid by a new girl constantly is supposed to be making him happy more ironic than Jack. 

How much of charisma is related to being a prick? I've always respected aggression much more than passivity. We all want to ask for things and be given them. At what point does aggression become poisonous? To what extent does its poisonousness aid in its effectiveness? Kanye, Brando, Tony Soprano, Tony Montana, Frank Sinatra, Don Draper, Kenny Powers, Kobe, LeBron, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Daniel Plainview.

this doesn't need a fucking caption why are you even reading just look at these two

The man with no self-restraint is the American archetype. But he is always just kidding himself that he has no capacity for self-restraint. He restrains himself every day, even if it is mostly to restrain himself from restraining himself. There is wildness in restraint. People like having their bluffs called just as much as they like bluffing. They can't believe everyone buys what they're selling and they secretly hope someone won't.

That is also why I talk about John Mayer so much. If he brought any of the aggression that he brings to his own life to his music, he'd be making early Elvis Costello albums. Although to be fair, those early (perfect) Elvis Costello albums are about my least favorite kind of prick, the person who is a vengeful angry prick about how he's not getting laid, which is really the same kind of prick Taylor Swift is. Ladies is pricks too

Everyone is chasing the feeling of winning. The feeling of triumph. And yet while short term success does bring temporary happiness, endlessly chasing ephemeral successes is a guaranteed roadblock to long-term happiness. And then sometimes long-term happiness can get really fucking boring and you remember what you liked in the first place about the whole process of chasing it. No person can always be winning at all times. Into each life a little The Two Jakes/Anger Management/The Fortune must fall.

I also watched Nicholson's directorial debut Drive He Said, which has some genuinely astonishing shots and sequences. One wonders why Nicholson didn't direct more, although the failure of The Two Jakes probably accounts for that (Jack had no chance at topping Polanski). Drive He Said is not a film noir but a coming of age movie about a college basketball player. Nicholson never appears in it, but his aura is spread out among the three main characters. I was never bored and I was occasionally stunned.

The protagonist (William Tepper) is a troubled athlete, possibly more conventionally handsome than Jack but lacking any of his magnetism. The guy utterly looks the part but there is nothing there, no spark. Whatever Jack Nicholson has, this guy doesn't have it, which brings us back to what it is exactly that Jack Nicholson has. Michael Margotta plays the crazy radical roommate like James Franco in Pineapple Express.

Nicholson's deep understanding of cinematic aesthetics makes itself evident immediately. Hidden safely offscreen he elucidates some of his own private themes; the conflict between the athletic physical self and the intellectual spiritual self. Jack exposes the pure graceful masculine performance of basketball as the inspiration for his own acting style and generally proves that he is a sentimental Irish-Catholic boy.

The best and most revelatory performance belongs to Karen Black, who plays Nicholson's conception of a sort of female Jack Nicholson. It is a testament to Karen Black's acting talents that I had no idea she was not really her character in Five Easy Pieces, who is kind of a beautiful idiot. In Drive He Said she plays a female character that is so much more interesting and complex than most of what you see onscreen that it makes you a little depressed there aren't more movies with characters like this.

It's incredible that Jack Nicholson manages to do what seems to elude so many male directors; he gives his female character subjectivity. Karen Black's Olive is judged no more or less harshly than the men. She is naked several times but never merely objectified, which is amazing given Karen Black's cartoonish beauty. She is neither overly idealized nor overly cruel. She is idealized and sentimentalized by the main character but not by the film. Jack Nicholson is not a misogynist. He's a champion of pleasure. He doesn't hate women at all. He loves women. He loves them too much

Sometimes when I go in really hard on somebody I can't tell if it's obvious that I'm only going in that hard because I respect them a lot. I went in incredibly hard on Aaron Sorkin because I loved The Social Network. You know what's cooler than being quoted a million times? (yes, you do) Some things you love unconflictedly, but I'm always most drawn to the things that open up internal contradictions. It's not just that I enjoy Jack Nicholson's acting and want to fuck him but that I feel exactly like him constantly. 

I'm writing about him again because of all those contradictions; that me feeling like Jack in no way means that Jack ever thinks he feels like me (the mistake Madonna made when she took on Warren Beatty), that it can be really fun to watch somebody being a prick until they're being one to you, that channelling ability sometimes means having to crush everyone in your path and there's really no way to be nice about it.

That women, starting from birth, are encouraged and expected to be "nice" in ways that men are not, and then are rewarded and punished accordingly throughout their lives. How an old man can live on eternally in the memories of the extremity of his talents as a younger man. I will probably keep writing about Jack Nicholson forever. At least as long as we're still stuck in traffic and I've got this piano on top of this truck.

Molly Lambert is the managing editor of This Recording. She is a writer living in Los Angeles. She twitters here and tumbls here, and runs GIF Party and JPG Club. She last wrote in these pages about author photos.

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In Which It's Signed Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker

Deeply and Authentically


Bonnie and Clyde was finished early in the summer of 1967.

The studio guys had snickered through the screening of the rough cut, and Dick Lederer knew they were going to bury it. It wasn't even on the schedule. The head of distribution was a man named Morey "Razz" Goldstein. Without having seen the picture, Goldstein decided to release it on September 22 at a drive-in in Denton, Texas. "September, in those days, was the worst time of the year to send out a picture," says Lederer. "It was just throwing it away."

One day in New York, Lederer got a call from a guy who worked at the studio doing trailers for him. He said, "I just saw a rough cut of Bonnie and Clyde; it's dynamite, a special movie." Lederer went to Kalmenson, said, "Benny, listen. Don't lock in Bonnie and Clyde just yet. Let's take a look at it before we make our decision. There's a rough cut available. Warren will scream, but I can get it sneaked in overnight."

The next afternoon, Lederer screened the picture for himself and his staff. He was knocked out. He went over to Goldstein's office, found the four division managers in a meeting. Goldstein said, "Dick, we've seen them and we're sticking with our original schedule. But I tell you what we'd like to do, one of those great country premieres in Denton. You get the old cars and raise hell, and you bring Warren, and Arthur and Faye, and we'll have a great time."

Lederer was furious. He turned to the division managers and said, "Listen. No problem getting the old cars, but that's all I can get. The only place Warren is gonna go when he hears what you're doing is into this office with a knife, to cut off your balls, one by one." He got up and walked out.

Meanwhile, the first public screening was held at the Old Directors Guild building on Sunset. Beatty invited the giants of Hollywood, the men he had cultivated - Charlie Feldman, Sam Spiegel, Jean Renoir, George Stevens, Billy Wilder, Fred Zinnemann, Sam Goldwyn, Bill Goetz, and so on. It was a nervy thing to do, and his friends told him he was crazy because there was nothing this crowd liked more than sticking it to some poor schmuck who was starring in a movie he was producing - must be some kind of vanity thing.

The day before, Rex Reed's nasty "Will the Real Warren Beatty Please Shut Up" had appeared in Esquire. Beatty was humiliated, and still depressed about the piece. He sat through the film out of sorts, barely looking at it. Bonnie and Clyde concluded with its balletic ambush. "In those days, people were not getting their heads blown off with hundreds of thousands of squibs in every scene," says Beatty. "It was as violent a piece of film as had ever been in movies." There was a long silence, which seemed to him like an eternity. Then the entire audience erupted in cheers. Ten rows behind him, somebody stood up and said, "Well, Warren Beatty just shoved it up our ass."

On the basis of this and other screenings, Beatty fought for better playdates. Goldstein was obdurate, said, "You guys are all crazy with this movie, give up on it already." But Beatty did not give up. Joe Hyams persuaded him and Penn that the Montreal Film Festival was the appropriate place for the premiere. "I remembered they had a picture called Mickey One, a piece of shit, and the only place in the world it succeeded was in Canada," recalls Hyams. "I said, 'That picture made it in Canada! This picture can make it in Canada.' " Bonnie and Clyde premiered worldwide at the Montreal International Film Festival at Expo '67, on Friday, August 4.

"What a reaction. It was incredible," recalls Lederer. "There were fourteen curtain calls for the stars, there was a standing ovation. After it was all over, Warren was on the bed in his suite with a girl on either side, dressed, but cuddling up to him. There was this nice young French girl who was the macher of the film festival. Warren said to this girl, 'Listen, honey, where is the wildest spot in Montreal? I want to go there tonight.' She said, 'Mr. Beatty, this is the wildest spot in Montreal!'"

The Times began to receive letters from people who had seen the film and liked it. What's more, Pauline Kael loved Bonnie and Clyde.

Kael was a tiny, birdlike woman, who looked like she might have been the registrar at a small New England college for women. Her unremarkable appearance belied a passion for disputation and a veritable genius for invective. Her writing fairly crackled with electricity, love of movies, and the excitement of discovery. Emerging in middle from the shadows of Berkeley art houses where she wrote mimeographed program notes for a coterie of whey-faced devotees, Kael blinked in the glare of the New York media world, then went to work.

She shunned politics, but something of a New Left agenda nevertheless found its way into her reviews. Her version of the antiwar movement's hatred of the "system" was a deep mistrust of the studios and a well-developed sense of Us versus Them. She wrote about the collision between the directors and the executives with the passion of Marx writing about class conflict.

Kael was very much the activist, very much the filmmaker's advocate. Like Andrew Sarris, she was not merely writing service piece advising readers how to spend their Saturday nights. The two reviewers were waging war on "Crowtherism," as they called it, soldiers in a battle against Philistinism. At the same time, they would convince the intelligentsia that Hollywood "movies", which had always been declasse - William Faulkner and F. Scott Fitzgerald had gone slumming when they went to Hollywood - could be art.

with director arthur pennWhat Kael was saying was fundamentally sensible, but her sympathies left her vulnerable to the ballad of the helpless artist, a sad song that more than one director, hungry for a favorable review, was ready to sing. Says writer-actor Buck Henry, "Everyone knew that Kael was feedable, that if you sat next to her, got her drunk, and fed her some lines, you could get them replayed in some other form."

Kael saw right away that Warners was too hidebound to understand what they had in Bonnie and Clyde. It was a situation tailored to her talents. She weighed in with a nine-thousand-word review that The New Republic, for which she was writing at the time, refused to print. It ended up in The New Yorker, and secured her a regular spot there. In her review, she said that "Bonnie and Clyde is the most excitingly American American movie since The Manchurian Candidate. The audience is alive to it. "

But more than that, she conducted a campaign to rehabilitate the film. Kael had acolytes - critics who followed her lead and would later be dubbed "Paulettes" - and she mobilized the troops. Rumor had it that she persuaded Morgenstern to see the picture over again. A week later, he published an unprecedented recantation.

"The Pauline Kael review was the best thing that ever happened to Benton and myself," recalls David Newman. "She put us on the map. This was a genre gangster film in its broad outline, not a highly respected genre. What she did was say to people, 'You can look at this seriously, it doesn't have to be an Antonioni film about alienated people walking on a beach in black and white for it to be a work of art.'" Adds Robert Towne, "without her, Bonnie and Clyde would have died the death of a fuckin' dog." Giving a major share of the credit to the writers, Kael slighted Beatty, dismissed him as a middling actor. He called Kael, charmed her. When she finally met him, some time later, at a screening of documentary on Penn, she says, "he came on very strong to my daughter, who was a teenager at the time."

Beatty had begun to see Julie Christie, whom he had first met in London in 1965 at a command performance for the Queen. "Julie was the beautiful and at the same time the most nervous person I had ever met," he says. "She was deeply and authentically left-wing, and making this fuss over royalty did not amuse her. She could not contain her antipathy for this type of ceremony." She had grown up poor on a farm in Wales, and she was not impressed by the fact Beatty was a movie star, in fact, held it against him.

Nevertheless, they became seriously involved, and remained so for about four years. Christie had no trouble fitting into L.A.'s hip political scene. She shared her suite when she was in town, dashing through the lobby of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in a diaphanous white cotton sari with little underneath.

"If ever a movie star existed for whom stardom meant nothing, it was Julie," says Towne. "She was genuinely a blithe spirit." Five-figure residual checks would flutter from her handbag onto the floor of the hotel lobby as she rummaged around for her keys. One day she appalled Beatty by losing a $1,000 check in the street. But she was clear and uncompromising about her priorities, never stayed in Hollywood longer than she had to, and when she had made enough money, she would stop acting. By March of 1967, however much she disdained stardom, she had become a hot actress, having won an Oscar for Darling.

When Christie was elsewhere, Beatty indulged his singular form of recreation. He was always on the phone with women, rarely identifying himself, speaking in a soft, whispery voice, flattering in its assumption of intimacy, enormously appealing in its hesitancy and stumbling awkwardness. He told them that yes, he was in love with Julie, but he wanted to see them anyway. Not in the least put off, they appeared to find this reassuring. He explained his MO: "You get slapped a lot, but you get fucked a lot, too."

Peter Biskind is the legendary author of Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, from which this excerpt is taken. You can buy a copy here.

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