NICHOLSON by Marc Eliot


A Biography
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There is nothing in these pages from celebrity biographer Eliot (Steve McQueen, 2011) that will come as a surprise to those who have followed the actor through his career and personal life.

While it may be fun to remember that Nicholson duly made his appearance on Matinee Theatre and that he took a turn on the Andy Griffith Show, there is no sense of the author digging for the goods: new material, a fresh perspective or insights into Nicholson’s moviemaking. Mostly, readers will wonder at the blatantly obvious comments—e.g., “although it took many hard years to happen, he eventually became a star.” As for Nicholson’s notorious sex life, it either throws a creepy Freudian shadow—“The seeds of sex were clearly planted in Jack from a very early age. ‘I was very driven. I remember being at least mentally sexually excited about things from childhood, even sooner than eight’ ”—or touches that too-much-information chord: “While tripping [on LSD], he could confront the persistent problem of premature ejaculation.” Movies take a back seat to goodies like a tour with Michael Douglas, where there were all the “young and beautiful women. They devoured them like shrimp….According to Jack, tongue firmly in cheek (and elsewhere), the tour was all about politics, social behavior, and women.” Eliot makes it extremely difficult to take the work seriously or want to take Nicholson so. When the author starts committing pop psychology—“Women were no longer purely objects of desire but a form of self-affirmation, that he was still able to get them”—it is clear the whole project has taken a wrong turn, way back somewhere.

Too tawdry by half and as groundbreaking as a Wikipedia entry.

Pub Date: Oct. 29th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-307-88837-2
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Crown Archetype
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2013


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