Jack Nicholson, James Hong, Jere Huggins, The Two Jakes

Written by Joe D on November 5th, 2007


They’re releasing a new DVD of Jack Nicholson’s directorial effort The Two Jakes. I always liked this movie, maybe I’m a sucker for anything set in 1940’s/50’s L.A. but I enjoyed it when it came out and thought it was unfairly condemned by critics. Sure it’s not Chinatown but what is? Only Chinatown! There are a lot of cool elements to this film, the locations (the Dresden Room!),

Are Marty and Elaine Still There?

the actors,( James Hong reprising his role as the faithful Manservant Kahn),

Jack & James, Hey! Wasn’t that guy in One Night With You!

the kind of overall melancholic atmosphere set against the boom town oil/real estate bonanza that was Los Angeles. I even like Van Dyke Parks music. I once had lunch with him and my old pal Bud Smith at Musso & Frank’s. He is a very funny guy!

But let me get on to Part II of my tale. Jere Huggins is an old friend. He’s an editor, he worked on Woodstock and a lot of other films. He worked with Robert Towne on Personal Best and was hired to edit The Two Jakes when Towne was going to direct and the two Jakes were to be Nicolson and Robert Evans. Jere was even going to play a small part in the film. He looks like a guy from the ’40’s tall, all American, a little Clint Eastwoodian. So Jere goes to work on the first day of shooting, he gets his period costume goes to the set, nothing happens, finally they call lunch. The caterers serve steak and lobster. After lunch they call a wrap for the day. Jere goes home, he gets a call, the film is cancelled! I guess Towne would not proceed with Evans playing the other Jake. So the film languished in turnaround for a while until they hashed out a compromise- Evans doesn’t act, Towne doesn’t direct. Jack does and Harvey Keitel plays the other Jake. And Jere Huggins doesn’t get to edit or play a bit part. That’s Hollywood!

I knew this re-release was in the pipeline a while ago, I know the brother of the colorist who did the new transfer for this DVD, he said Nicholson was supervising the color correcting himself so I figured it was for something big. I haven’t seen The Two Jakes for a long time, so I’m looking forward to this new release, why don’t they make a new print as well and show it in the theaters too! Hey Jack, my friends over at Triage Motion Picture Services will give you a great deal! But seriously, I love the attention to detail in this movie, I think it’s Nicholson’s directorial masterwork. You can tell he took this story to heart and gave it his all. It shows in every frame. I especially like the ending , it’s emotional tone is unique in Cinema. It expresses loss in a rare human way for such a larger than life character. There’s a third screenplay Towne wrote called Cloverleaf. The unproduced third act of the Jake Gittes Trilogy. I hope they make it soon.

Two Jakes Trailer

4 Comments so far ↓

  1. Nov

    Thanks for sharing some behind-the-scenes stories regarding this vastly underrated film. I always kind of wished that the Evans version could have been filmed, but the one that was eventually filmed makes for a nice companion piece to CHINATOWN (even though, as you say, it’s not as good!)

    Have you read the CLOVERLEAF script? Do you know when it’s set?

  2. Nov

    I haven’t read it, but I’m guessing 50’s, red car scam scandal, freeway expansion. It could be great! Jack better do it soon or else he’ll be playing the Noah Cross part.

  3. Feb

    It’s good I’m not forgotten. Talked to Linda tonight and she said you’ld run into each other. She sentme the link to your blog
    and I enjoyed it. Now that I have it I’ll have to read all of them.
    Are you still at jodaug@mac.com?
    I’ll be in touch. Jere
    PS. The studio pulled the plug because they didn’t believe Evans
    could pull it off.

  4. Feb
    Joe D

    Great to hear from you. Write me at jodaug@mac.com, come visit, we can put you in our guest shack.

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