Maybe you loathe Jared Leto’s tattastic take on the Joker, or maybe you love it. Either way, you have to admit that it is a bold take on the character. And that, in and of itself, is in keeping with the history of the Joker on the big screen in the modern era — a history enriched by Heath Ledger’s surprisingly dark anarchistic zeal and established by Jack Nicholson.
A giant of a talent who, by 1989, had already earned nine Academy Award nominations and two statues, Nicholson’s big on-screen personality took a back seat for no character and it bled through the white paint and the semi-cheesy dialogue, but it didn’t distract. Instead, it pulled us in and made a song out of his performance as each line was punctuated with his signature attitude.
In honor of that performance and the Joker’s 75th Anniversary, it seemed like a good time to re-experience some of those lines and remember just how good Jack Nicholson was as the Joker.
“You can call me… Joker. And as you can see, I’m a lot happier.”
“Hello, Vinny. It’s your Uncle Bingo. Time to pay the check!”
“The pen is truly mightier than the sword!”
“Where does he get those wonderful toys?”
“This town needs an enema!”
“Wait till they get a load of me!”
“Tell me something, my friend. You ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight? […] I always ask that of all my prey. I just like the sound of it.”
“And now comes the part where I relieve you, the little people, of the burden of your failed and useless lives. But, as my plastic surgeon always said: if you gotta go, go with a smile.”
“He stole my balloons! Why didn’t somebody tell me that he had one of those… things? Bob, gun. […] I’m gonna need a minute or two alone, boys.”
“Shall we dance?”