In praise of... old style Hollywood seduction techniques

'Citizen Cannes' Gilles Jacob watches Jack Nicholson work his predatory magic
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On hearing the news yesterday that Jack Nicholson is trying to stop a memoir by ex-girlfriend Angelica Huston, detailing his alleged infidelities during their 16 years together, we were reminded of a story in Citizen Cannes, Gilles Jacob’s riveting book on his years as the president of the infamous French film festival. In it, he recalls witnessing Nicholson working his legendary predatory magic on actress Ali MacGraw...

"Standing at the other end of the room with my wine glass in my hand, I watched him operate. It was smart work indeed. In a bid to look cool, I shouted across the room, ‘Hi Jack!’ making my way towards him with an outstretched hand. He was considering me coldly, although we had known each other for ages, when suddenly a vision appeared out of nowhere: it was Ali dressed like a squaw (she was in a native American phase at the time), making her way to the middle of the veranda. A ripple went through the crowd. Jack let her come to him, using that high, seductive voice of his to hypnotise and paralyse his prey; its effect on women had been utterly perfected by him. It was all in the voice and the eyebrows. He would raise an eyebrow and leave it suspended there, his words becoming ever slower and nasal as his eye, framed by this arch, would unashamedly look for a sign that he was in luck. At this time, Jack still had his hair but he was as tubby as a barrel. It made no difference: it was jack Nicholson, and very few women said no to the sailor of The Last Detail or the policeman from Chinatown with the sticking plaster on his nose… Like in a Kipling short story, the predator caught his consenting victim that night under the pretext of giving her a lift home. At Sue’s door, Jack paused a moment, giving me an ironic smile and a victorious wink of that owl-like eye of his. It was like a blow to my heart, a gong ringing the knockout bell!"

 

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