In the mid 1970s, Jack Nicholson starred in this mystery about a television journalist who gets caught up in a drama while overseas in The Passenger.
Directed by Michael Antonini, Nicholson plays David Locke, a TV journalist working on a documentary on the colonial era of Africa. He becomes friends with a British businessman, David Robertson, who he then finds out has died overnight.
Locke decides to impersonate him, taking all his belongings and heads to Europe. tired of his life and marriage. But he soon begins to realize the dead man was an arms dealer and had been in contact with rebels Locke had been trying to reach for his documentary.
Meanwhile Robertson’s widow wants to know about her husband’s last days and tries to track down Locke, using a mutual friend. As Locke tries to evade his past, he links up with a girl played by Maria Schneider, who helps him avoid people looking for him.
Written by Antonini, the film was a stylishly shot film, filmed in Spain by an Italian crew, focusing on a man’s need to escape his life and reinvent himself.
Released in February 1975 in Europe and April 1975 in North America, The Passenger was critically-acclaimed for its production and storyline, and was submitted to the Cannes Film Festival for competition.
This film was Nicholson’s next role after the 1974’s Chinatown – and although it received positive reviews from critics, it made no dent to North American movie audiences, and was quickly labelled an art film.