Chinatown (1974) - Rotten Tomatoes

Chinatown (1974)

Chinatown (1974)



Critic Consensus: As bruised and cynical as the decade that produced it, this noir classic benefits from Robert Towne's brilliant screenplay, director Roman Polanski's steady hand, and wonderful performances from Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway.

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Movie Info

A private detective, Jake Gittes, hired to investigate an adultery case, stumbles on the plot of a murder involving incest and the privatization of water through state and municipal corruption, land use and real estate. If he doesn't drop the case at once he faces threats of legal action, but he pursues it anyway, slowly uncovering a vast conspiracy.

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Jack Nicholson
as J.J. Gittes
Faye Dunaway
as Evelyn Mulwray
John Huston
as Noah Cross
Perry Lopez
as Escobar
Diane Ladd
as Ida Sessions
John Hillerman
as Yelburton
Roman Polanski
as Man With Knife
Darrell Zwerling
as Hollis Mulwray
Roy Jenson
as Mulvihill
James Hong
as Evelyn's Butler
Belinda Palmer
as Katherine
Roy Roberts
as Mayor Bagby
Noble Willingham
as Councilman
Rance Howard
as Irate Farmer
Jim Burk
as Farmer in the Valley
Doc Erickson
as Customer
Fritzi Burr
as Mulwray's Secretary
Charles Knapp
as Mortician
Claudio Martinez
as Boy on Horseback
Frederico Roberto
as Cross's Butler
Elizabeth Harding
as Curly's Wife
John Rogers
as Mr. Palmer
Cecil Elliott
as Emma Dill
Paul Jenkins
as Policeman
Lee de Broux
as Policeman
Bob Golden
as Policeman
John Holland
as Farmers in the Valley
Jesse Vint
as Farmers in the Valley
Jim Burke
as Farmers in the Valley
Denny Arnold
as Farmers in the Valley
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News & Interviews for Chinatown

Critic Reviews for Chinatown

All Critics (63) | Top Critics (8)

As much as I admire the work of both Polanski and Nicholson, I found Chinatown tedious from beginning to just before the end.

January 18, 2013 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

Roman Polanski's American made film, first since Rosemary's Baby shows him again in total command of talent and physical filmmaking elements.

March 27, 2009 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Polanski's film suggests that the rules of the game are written in some strange, untranslatable language, and that everyone's an alien and, ultimately, a victim.

March 27, 2009 | Full Review…

The hard-boiled private eye coolly strolls a few steps ahead of the audience.

February 9, 2006 | Rating: 5.5/6 | Full Review…
Top Critic

In 1974 a director, a screenwriter, and a producer (Robert Evans, who for once deserves a few of the plaudits he's apportioned himself) could decide to beat a genre senseless and then dump it in the wilds of Greek tragedy.

August 5, 2003 | Full Review…

A new private-eye melodrama that celebrates not only a time and a place (Los Angeles) but also a kind of criminality that to us jaded souls today appears to be nothing worse than an eccentric form of legitimate private enterprise.

May 20, 2003 | Rating: 5/5

Audience Reviews for Chinatown


An excellent screenplay and a willing crew are all up to task of peeling back the layers of a society not as innocent as it likes to pretend. Nicholson is a detective who accepts that there might be some corruption in the world but decides to limit the avalanche against his better judgment. And although released in the mid70s the idea expressed is that this crap has been going on for awhile. Required viewing for those who appreciate social commentary with their entertainment.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

An extremely complex film noir full of mystery and intelligent twists that keep us always guessing and trying to put together the pieces of the puzzle, while its brilliant script is only matched by Polanski's excellent direction and Jack Nicholson's nuanced performance.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

An excellent, classic film that is suspenseful, well-filmed, and features enjoyable twists and turns. Jack Nicholson is terrific--as usual.

Matthew Samuel Mirliani
Matthew Samuel Mirliani

Super Reviewer

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