Before They Were Stars: Jack Nicholson in “The Cry Baby Killer”

I’ve already done a “Before They Were Stars” feature on Jack Nicholson for his memorable turn as the masochistic dental patient in the original 1960 Roger Corman version of Little Shop of Horrors, but since it’s his 74th birthday today, I think some more obscure Nicholson footage needs to be unearthed. And, believe me, there’s a lot to choose from. Before his role in Easy Rider garnered him the first of twelve Academy Award nominations and finally sent him down the path to stardom, Jack spent over a decade acting in numerous low-budget B-movies and frequently worked with the B-movie king himself, Roger Corman. His official film debut came in 1958 in a Corman-produced quickie called The Cry Baby Killer. Since virtually every other film released in the 1950s was about juvenile delinquents, Cry Baby Killer featured Jack as a teenager who panics and takes hostages after killing someone. Why the Cry Baby Killer isn’t listed alongside the Joker and Jack Torrance as one of Jack Nicholson’s most iconic screen villains I’ll never know.

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