Chinatown

June 20th, 1974







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more trailers Chinatown

Still of Faye Dunaway in ChinatownStill of Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway in ChinatownStill of Jack Nicholson in ChinatownStill of Jack Nicholson and John Huston in Chinatown

Plot
A private detective investigating an adultery case stumbles on to a scheme of murder that has something to do with water.

Release Year: 1974

Rating: 8.4/10 (104,903 voted)

Critic's Score: 86/100

Director: Roman Polanski

Stars: Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Huston

Storyline
JJ 'Jake' Gittes is a private detective who seems to specialize in matrimonial cases. He is hired by Evelyn Mulwray when she suspects her husband Hollis, builder of the city's water supply system, of having an affair. Gittes does what he does best and photographs him with a young girl but in the ensuing scandal, it seems he was hired by an impersonator and not the real Mrs. Mulwray. When Mr. Mulwray is found dead, Jake is plunged into a complex web of deceit involving murder, incest and municipal corruption all related to the city's water supply.

Cast:
Jack Nicholson - J.J. Gittes
Faye Dunaway - Evelyn Mulwray
John Huston - Noah Cross
Perry Lopez - Escobar
John Hillerman - Yelburton
Darrell Zwerling - Hollis Mulwray
Diane Ladd - Ida Sessions
Roy Jenson - Mulvihill
Roman Polanski - Man with Knife
Richard Bakalyan - Loach (as Dick Bakalyan)
Joe Mantell - Walsh
Bruce Glover - Duffy
Nandu Hinds - Sophie
James O'Rear - Lawyer
James Hong - Evelyn's Butler

Release Date: 20 June 1974

Filming Locations: 1315 South El Molino Drive, South Pasadena, California, USA

Box Office Details

Budget: $6,000,000(estimated)

Gross: $30,000,000 (Worldwide) (January 2000)



Technical Specs

Runtime:



Did You Know?

Trivia:
The Chinatown screenplay is now regarded as being one of the most perfect screenplays and is now a main teaching point in screen writing seminars and classes everywhere.

Goofs:
Anachronisms: During water hearings in town hall, one spectator reads a Sunday newspaper comics section in which all the panels are clearly free-form Seventies style art, nothing like you'd see in comic strips of the Thirties.

Quotes:
[first lines]
Jake Gittes: All right, Curly. Enough's enough. You can't eat the Venetian blinds. I just had them installed on Wednesday.



User Review

Capturing the True Spirit of Film-noir

Rating: 10/10

The seventies were the last years of great (American) films. I say films because when we speak of movies nowadays, we allude to blockbusters that generate hundreds of millions of dollars, the least amount of controversy, and are mostly inane crowd pleasers with tacked-on endings.

Consider the output of influential film makers Allen during that time: Coppola, Scorsese, Altman, Lumet, Ashby, Bogdanovich, to name a few Americans, not to mention European directors Fellini, Bergman, Wertmuller, Truffaut, Argento, Saura, and Bunuel -- all household names in those days. Before Spielberg and Lucas came along, not a single one of these made movies appealing to the "summer blockbuster tradition," and unlike Spielberg or Lucas, they have a body of work filled in high artistic quality with minimum special effects and a lasting mark on future generations.

Polanski is another one of these directors, and with "Chinatown," he reaches his directorial peak amidst the scandals which seemed to taint everything except his art. One can only imagine him in the forties, living his scandals, and transmuting this into high art -- when film-noir was at its darkest. Thankfully he lived in a time which did not demand the "happy ending" or re-shoots in order to be politically correct -- else "Chinatown" would have lost its devastating punch and conformed to the norm.

A departure from the horror genre which brought Polanski to stardom, he re-creates an equally grim genre with his jaded view of 1930s Los Angeles down to the choice of the color palette, and using the acting powers of Dunaway and Nicholson to a fantastic effect, he creates haunting characters who can't be easily dismissed as film-noir archetypes without looking very closely at their reactions, listening to their words, and following their progressive involvement in a plot which threatens to swallow them whole, and ultimately does. And having Huston play Noah Cross -- who virtually took noir to its heights with "The Maltese Falcon" -- Polanski hits the mark dead center, because Huston is the hardened heart of the corruption in "Chinatown." In brief scenes he creates a character almost unbearably evil with a hint of madness just underneath, and how he affects the characters around him will pervade the viewer long after the credits have rolled -- after all, he is the person who tells Nicholson he has no idea what he's getting himself into.

I doubt this movie could be made today for reasons stated above. I'm thankful Polanski's vision prevailed, and not Towne's. Film-noir is a genre about human darkness, and here, the envelope is pushed all the way through, making this film, in my opinion, rank second to "The Maltese Falcon."









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