Cincinnati Babyhead

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CB’s Favorite Performances : Jack Nicholson – Francis Phelan

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There’s a few Jack performances that I could do a take on. Francis Phelan (Ironweed) has always been one of my favorites.

Francis dropped his infant son, killing him and hasn’t drawn a sober breath in the 22 years since it happened. He comes home with the ghosts of his past and the guilt he has carried all those years. His drinking has turned him into a self admitted bum. The drinking has also effected his mental state. Physically he is still pretty strong but it’s his mental state of mind that’s in trouble. Drinking just doesn’t do the trick any more. He can’t forget.

Jack is so good in this. He brings a truth and naturalness to Francis. You never see him playing drunk. He just is drunk. When he sees the ghosts from his past he gets his back up and pretty well tells them they got what they deserved. The grief and guilt he had sourced is real. The scene at his son Gerald’s graveside is as gut wrenching as it gets. It moved me to the core. So many good scenes. He does William Kennedy’s character justice. Great work Jack.

Jacks a bum and he knows it.

“We’re going on a bummer this summer”

26 comments on “CB’s Favorite Performances : Jack Nicholson – Francis Phelan

  1. christiansmusicmusings
    December 8, 2019

    While I’m not a movie expert, Jack Nicholson is one of my favorite actors.

    The one thing that strikes me in particular is believability. No matter which role he plays, he’s so invested that you always buy it!

    And when you look at pictures ranging from “The Shining”, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, “”Chinatown”, “Batman” to “As Good As It Gets”, there is also an impressive versatility.

    I think my favorite Nicholson movies are “The Shining” and “Cuckoo’s Nest.”

    I understand his role as Francis Phelan is from “Ironweed,” a picture I don’t believe I’ve watched. Based on your description of the character, I can see how it’s a great role for Nicholson.

    Liked by 1 person

    • cincinnatibabyhead
      December 8, 2019

      I don’t think CB’s a movie/music expert but I think we know what we like Christian.
      This is just one of many performances by Jack that I like. For a while he was hitting out of the park with every role he did. With Francis he kept it grounded, no clowning or going big. It’s all contained and then released in his emotions. Really good subtle stuff.
      I just went back an edited the take and put the name of the film in and the author of the book, William Kennedy, a favorite of mine. Thanks .

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yeah, Another Blogger
    December 8, 2019

    Hi there. I suppose that my fave Jack performance is in Chinatown. That’s a movie that I’ve been meaning to re-watch for years. It often takes me a while to get around to doing things!

    Like

    • cincinnatibabyhead
      December 8, 2019

      His character in Chinatown is another that I could have picked (and probably will as I go). Yes and the film is a re-watcher for sure.
      Like I was saying to Christian, Jack’s work as Francis really captures a damaged guy who is hanging onto what’s left of himself. There’s some scenes that tore my guts out, Jack bared his soul. Later Neil. As usual, thanks for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Jim S.
    December 8, 2019

    Meryl Streep is in that too, yes? That is one depressing flick as I recall. My favorite Jack performances are ‘Cuckoo’s Nest,’ ‘Last Detail’ and ‘A Few Good Men.’

    Liked by 1 person

    • cincinnatibabyhead
      December 8, 2019

      Yeah it’s a bit a downer flick. But Jack is great. His buddy is played by Tom Waits. Yes Streeps in it.
      I like a whole bunch of his roles, They will pop up later.

      Like

  4. J.
    December 9, 2019

    We’ve discussed Jack before. I like him… he’s right up there among the best. I watched the trailer for this one as I’ve never seen it… I can only assume that was a trailer aimed at awards folks, cause it didn’t I much sell the film as sell Jack and Meryl.

    Anyhoo, I’ll add this to my list.

    Liked by 1 person

    • cincinnatibabyhead
      December 9, 2019

      I was trying to find a clip of Francis at his sons grave site but all I could come up with was the trailer.
      Basically the film is about Jack’s character coming to grips or not with his past. He’s really good in it Jay. A few things in the overall film keep it from being a fave but definately still worth a watch. Jack is perfect and the story is a good one. I’m a big fan of William Kennedy who wrote it.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. hotfox63
    December 9, 2019

    Jack Nicholson is just great in “Ironweed”, also Meryl Streep ( which I do not really like very much) in a great role and one of my favorites: Tom Waits.

    Liked by 1 person

    • cincinnatibabyhead
      December 9, 2019

      Totally agree on Jack. Meryl’s take has a hard time keeping up with Jack. Not bad. It had it’s moments. I thought some of the supporting characters like Waits were very good. Gritty and on the “bum’. I like that genre and time and place.
      (Just watched ‘The Marriage Of Maria Braun”. Enjoyed it)

      Liked by 1 person

      • hotfox63
        December 10, 2019

        I think you’ll also like “The Postman Always Rings Twice”, with the incredible Jessica Lange and the undeniable Jack Nicholson. The ending diverges from that in the James Cain novel and the original 1946 film, but the frisson remains. Yep, “The Marriage of Maria Braun” is Fassbinder at his best. The movie shows the moral vacuum of post-war West Germany. I highly recommend Fassbinder’s “Lola”.

        Liked by 1 person

      • cincinnatibabyhead
        December 10, 2019

        ‘Postman’ is another good one (originals pretty good also). Yes Jessica is very good in it. I like the darkness of that film also, little dark humor also.
        My Gal liked ‘Braun’ also. Will check out Lola. Thanks

        Liked by 1 person

  6. 1dancequeendq
    December 13, 2019

    I enjoyed Ironweed the book and the movie. Brilliant acting from Nicholson in this movie.

    Liked by 1 person

    • cincinnatibabyhead
      December 13, 2019

      Ironweed is one of Kennedy’s Albany stories. I love them. The scene where Francis shows up at his family’s home with the turkey after 20 years is so good.
      (I was tuned into your spin cycle. catching up. So much good listening. ‘Everbodys Talking’ by Randy Crawford and Joe Sample jumped into my head. Great stuff. Thanks Queen

      Liked by 1 person

  7. hanspostcard
    December 14, 2019

    That was a role where I kind of forgot it was Jack acting- he wasn’t doing the phone it in Jack performance…

    Liked by 1 person

    • cincinnatibabyhead
      December 14, 2019

      I guess because there wasn’t a lot of Jack doing the Jack, the film didn’t catch. It’s a pretty dark trip into alcholism and some of the places it takes you. Being a bum is tough business.
      I really liked his work in this.

      Liked by 1 person

      • hanspostcard
        December 14, 2019

        I saw it in the theaters- and thought it was outstanding. Need to watch it again.

        Like

  8. BuriedOnMars
    January 6, 2020

    There are very few of Jack’s movies that I haven’t seen and this is one of them. I’m going to have to keep an eye out for it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • cincinnatibabyhead
      January 6, 2020

      Yeah Mars this film really struck a cord with me and Jacks performance is low key and subtle. I love Francis. From a pretty good book by William Kennedy.

      Like

      • baby head got dropped
        May 20, 2020

        a ‘pretty good’ book.
        where I come from, ‘pretty good’ means you get a Pulitzer Prize.

        Liked by 1 person

      • cincinnatibabyhead
        May 20, 2020

        I like your handle. Drop by anytime BH. Where I come from “pretty good” won’t get you shit.

        Like

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This entry was posted on December 8, 2019 by in 1987 film, Ironweed, Jack Nicholson, William Kennedy and tagged , .

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