In 1930s Los Angeles, “matrimonial work” specialist Gittes is hired by Evelyn Mulwray to tail her husband, Water Department engineer Hollis Mulwray. Gittes photographs him in the company of a young blonde and figures the case is closed, only to discover that the real Mrs. Mulwray had nothing to do with hiring Gittes in the first place. When Hollis turns up dead, Gittes decides to investigate further, encountering a shady old-age home, corrupt bureaucrats, angry orange farmers, and a nostril-slicing thug along the way. By the time he confronts Cross, Evelyn’s father and Mulwray’s former business partner, Jake thinks he knows everything, but an even more sordid truth awaits him. When circumstances force Jake to return to his old beat in Chinatown, he realizes just how impotent he is against the wealthy, depraved Cross. “Forget it, Jake,” his old partner tells him. “It’s Chinatown.” —AFI
The son of a Polish Jew and a Russian immigrant, Polanski was born in Paris on August 18, 1933. When he was three, his family moved to the Polish town of Krakow, an unfortunate decision given that the Germans invaded the city in 1940. Things went from bad to worse with the formation of Krakow’s Jewish ghetto, and Polanski’s family was the target of further persecution when his parents were deported to a concentration camp. Just before he was to be taken away, however, Polanski’s father helped his son escape, and the boy managed to survive with help from kindly Catholic families, although he was at times forced to fend for himself. (At one point, the Germans decided to use Polanski for idle target practice.) It was during this period that Polanski became a devoted cinephile, seeking refuge in movie houses whenever possible. Shortly after sustaining serious injuries in an explosion, Polanski learned of his mother’s death at Auschwitz. His father survived the camps, and moved back to Krakow… read more
Clips and appreciations marking Jack Nicholson’s 75th birthday.
Also: Richard Brody and David Bordwell review Roger Ebert’s memoir, Life Itself.
Chinatown is a tremendous collaborative effort that produced one of the most memorable Hollywood pictures of the 1970’s. Director Roman Polanski (his last film in America, and the first he made in… read review
A great movie, albeit with a confusing plot. The tension is kept alive by fantastic performances by Jack Nicholson and the hyper sensual Faye Dunaway, they don’t make women like this anymore. Roman… read review
Chinatown is undoubtedly one of the greatest movies ever made. It takes the concept of Film Noir to an entirely new level, certainly bringing more depth and mystery to the genre than it ever had before… read review