In the spring of 1960 came a more high-profile opportunity, when Kumin-Olenick sent Jack to tryouts for the motion picture adaptation of author James T. Farrell's powerful Studs Lonigan trilogy.
Farrell's novels chronicled the interwoven life stories of lower-middleclass Irish Catholic youth from a Chicago neighborhood, spanning the post-World War I period through the Depression. Writer-producer Philip Yordan, who like [Roger] Corman functioned autonomously in Hollywood, planned to condence Farrell's acclaimed trilogy into a single story line, setting the film principally in 1925...
Nicholson was awarded the role of Weary Reilly, an unsavory punk who calls women pigs, rapes a young lady at a gin party, and winds up in prison...
Studs Lonigan was filmed at the Hal Roach Studios in the spring of 1960... Even compressed and sanitized, Studs Lonigan was downbeat. The Catholic-tinged material could not have been unfamiliar to Jack, with its melancholy scenes of girls sitting around, wistfully yearning for happiness, while their doomed boyfriends talked tough and played pool.