I’ve never really considered the idea that I might have a favourite actor. As a writer, it’s usually the story, the dialogue, and the drama that captivates me more than any individual performance.
Yet when the same actor shows up in two of your top three favourite films of all time, you have to give that actor the nod.
So, congratulations, Jack Nicholson, you just made my Best Actors Ever list, and are so far the only one on there.
(I’m sure you’re reading this and are overwhelmed by the honour).
Yes, Jack Nicholson was truly incredible in One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest, but he was just as compelling in my third favourite film of all time, The Shining.
All Work And No Play makes Jack a Dull Boy.
You know, it’s only now that I sit down to write about it that I realise how inevitable it was that The Shining should be one of my favourite movies ever, and not just because Nicholson is, as ever, captivating in a way that no other performer could be.
No, the real reason this film was always destined to strike a chord for me, is that it is the combined effort of two of my biggest creative heroes and inspirations:
As I mentioned in my recent discussion on IT, King is easily among my biggest influences as a writer.
There’s something about the way he builds these deep, varied characters, fills them with flaws and and vulnerabilities and makes you fall utterly in love with them that I just find remarkable.
Equally as remarkable is the way he then drags those characters through all kinds of physical and psychological torment in a way that is intense, mesmerising and memorable.
Stephen King doesn’t just write stories, he creates vivid experiences that feel as real as anything happening around you, and which you remember intensely, as though it really happened.
This is why I still think of the characters from IT like long lost friends who I haven’t seen for a while yet still think of fondly and dearly.
It’s why I still remember the adventure they had as though I was with them, a fully fledged member of The Losers Club.
With The Shining, King does again, creating a truly masterful story full of magic and suspense and deeply engrossing storytelling.
With the film, things get even better.
Come and play with us, Danny, Forever… and ever… and ever…
Stephen King’s story is wonderfully retold in terrifying fashion by Stanley Kubrick, a man whose work in his field is as unique as Kings is in his.
Kubrick has long been one of my favourite directors, dating back to the time we were first shown 2001: A Space Odyssey in an A-Level Media Studies class back in the day.
That film felt much like an experience than something to be merely observed. Like much of Kubrick’s work before and after, experiencing 2001 meant that the rest of the outside world ceased to exist.
I’ve watched that film several times since, and found it even more captivating than the last.
The same goes for other Kubrick classics like A Clockwork Orange, and even earlier stuff like Lolita and Dr. Strangelove, and of course, The Shining.
This film is the perfect example of how Kubrick fuses unique visuals, an arresting score and haunting character portrayals to make his movies events that you feel and live rather than sit back and watch.
Right from the earliest moments, the combination of Kubrick’s directing and Nicholson’s riveting performance creates in you the uneasy feeling that something just isn’t right.
As the story goes on, twisting King’s visceral imagery through a landscape of nightmares and all things psychotically sinister, that feeling only grows and grows.
It sinks its teeth into your veins, pins you to the screen and forces you to live every moment of the story as though the whole thing were happening to you.
It’s for all these reasons -and a few more- that The Shining is one of my all time favourite films.
The Shining is film number 3 on my list of the Top 12 Greatest Films of All Time. Other entries in this list include: