Directed by Roman Polanski and starring Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway it was made in the pre-blockbuster era and really shows the brilliance of the director rather than a few gimmicky CGI effects and laser beams!
The film noir genre is epitomised by films from the forties shot in black and white and sort of detective thrillers.
Here we have a Technicolor film from 1974 revisiting the genre.
The performance of Nicholson as private detective Jake Gittes is mesmerising and up there with his other great roles.
Gittes is an ex-policeman who worked in the Chinatown district of Los Angeles.
Now a private detective in 1930s LA. He becomes embroiled in the private life of the chief engineer of LA's water and power department.
Hired by his so called wife at the films beginning he later discovers it wasn't actually who she claimed.
Investigating further what turns out to be so called adultery actually becomes a murder, greed and intimidation case involving the local water supply!
The story could actually have been a screenplay for an episode of Murder, She Wrote but the performances of the cast and ultimately its direction by Polanski are wonderful to watch.
It's the camera angles, the screenplay, photography that all come to the fore.
No doubt you will never have heard of it but I would highly recommended it over the modern multiplex trash.
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Jack Nicholson stars in Roman Polanski's Chinatown alongside Faye Dunaway and John Huston. Nicholson's character, J.J. Gittes, Is a private eye who delves into other people's secrets while trying to escape from his own.
J.J. Gittes is a private eye in a city where everyone has something to hide and on a regular afternoon, Gittes get asked to spy on a woman's husband to find out who he is being unfaithful with. This women is Mrs. Mulwray, wife of Hollis Mulwray, the chief engineer for the Los Angeles Water and Power Supply, an important and prominent figure in the city. Gittes gets the job done and the pictures end up in the local newspaper.
However, when Gittes is approached and handed a lawsuit by a women claiming to be the real Mrs. Mulwray (Faye Dunawaya), he realizes he was setup. Gittes, who is not easily hoodwinked and values is reputation, sets out to figure out who wanted to setup Mr. Mulwray.
This is where the web of lies begins. And as Gittes digs deeper and deeper the web begins to unravel, and to surprising results. What begins as a scandal involving the corruption and manipulation of one of Los Angeles most important resources quickly turns in to a story involving a lot of people and their very personal secrets. And somehow, they are all connected.
I don't really want to go too much into the plot because this movie really relies on its twists and turns that occur throughout the film. I can say though that this movie really has it all. It has an engaging story, great characters that I actually started to care about as the film went on. The atmosphere it brilliant, such a dark and corrupt story set in the backdrop of the beautiful Los Angeles.
There are three main characters at the forefront of the story. J.J. Gittes is our hero. He is a private eye who has secrets from his past that still trouble him. "Are you alone?" Gittes is asked at one point, and his response is "isn't everybody?" showing us just how lonely Gittes really is. Often times in this film Gittes is outnumbered and helpless and you begin to sympathize for him and his struggles and how impossible his task is.
Faye Dunaway plays Evelyn Mulwray, a character which a lot of the twists and turns revolve around. We don't really find out who or what she really is until the latter end of the movie. And as the credits were rolling, she still seemed a mystery to me.
Lastly, but certainly not least you have John Huston, in one of his most chilling performances as Noah Cross. Cross is very rich man who is associated with the LA Water and Power Supply and who is also