Chinatown (1974 film)Edit
Chinatown is a 1974 American neo-noir film, directed by Roman Polanski from a screenplay by Robert Towne and starring Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, and John Huston. The film features many elements of the film noir genre, particularly a multi-layered story that is part mystery and part psychological drama. It was released by Paramount Pictures. The story, set inLos Angeles in 1937, was inspired by the California Water Wars, the historical disputes over land and water rights that had raged in southern California during the 1910s and 1920s, in which William Mulholland acted on behalf of Los Angeles interests to secure water rights in the Owens Valley. Chinatown was the last film Roman Polanski made in the United States before returning to Europe.
Chinatown is frequently included in lists of the greatest films in world cinema. It holds second place on the American Film Institute list of Best Mystery Films. Chinatown was nominated for eleven Academy Awards, ultimately winning only Best Original Screenplay for Robert Towne. It also won Golden Globe Awards for Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor, andBest Screenplay. In 1991, Chinatown was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."
A sequel, The Two Jakes, was released in 1990, again starring Nicholson, who also directed, with Robert Towne returning to write the screenplay. The film failed to generate the acclaim of its predecessor.
A woman identifying herself as Evelyn Mulwray (Ladd) hires private investigator J.J. "Jake" Gittes (Nicholson) to perform matrimonial surveillance on her husband Hollis I. Mulwray (Zwerling), the chief engineer for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Gittes tails him, hears him publicly oppose the creation of a new reservoir, and shoots photographs of him with a young woman (Palmer) that hit the front page of the following day's paper. Upon his return to his office he is confronted by a beautiful woman who, after establishing that the two of them have never met, irately informs him that she is in fact Evelyn Mulwray (Dunaway) and he can expect a lawsuit.
Realizing he was set up, Gittes figures whoever did it wants to get Mulwray, but, before he can question the husband, Lt. Lou Escobar (Lopez) fishes his drowned body from a fresh water reservoir. Suspicious of murder, Gittes investigates, and notices that, although huge quantities of water are released from the reservoir every night, the land is almost completely dry. He is confronted by Water Department Security Chief Claude Mulvihill (Jenson) with a henchman (Polanski) who slashes Gittes's nose. Back at his office, Gittes receives a call from Ida Sessions, an actress whom he recognizes as the bogus Mrs. Mulwray. She is afraid to identify her employer, but provides a clue: the name of one of "those people" is in that day's obituaries.
Gittes learns that Mrs. Mulwray's husband was once the business partner of her father, Noah Cross (Huston), so he meets him for lunch at his palatial estate. Cross offers to double Gittes's fee to search for Mulwray's missing girlfriend, plus a bonus if he succeeds. Gittes visits the hall of records, where he discovers that many large orange groves have recently changed ownership in the northwest San Fernando Valley. He goes there but is caught and beaten by angry landowners, who think he's one of the water department agents who have been demolishing their water tanks and poisoning their wells to force them out.
Gittes's review of the obituaries uncovers a former resident of the Mar Vista Inn, a retirement home, who is one of the new landowners in the Valley. He infers that Mulwray was murdered when he learned that the new reservoir would be used to irrigate the newly-purchased properties. Evelyn and Gittes bluff their way into Mar Vista and confirm that the real estate deals are done in the name of its residents without their knowledge. After fleeing from Mulvihill and his thugs, they hide at Evelyn's house, where they nurse each other's wounds and make love.
In the morning, Evelyn has to leave suddenly, but she warns him that her father is dangerous and crazy. Gittes manages to follow her car to a house where he observes her with Mulwray's girlfriend. He confronts Evelyn, who finally confesses that the woman is her sister.
An anonymous call draws Gittes to Ida Sessions's apartment where he finds her murdered, with Escobar waiting for his arrival. Escobar pressures him because the coroner's report found salt water in Mulwray's lungs, indicating that the body was moved after death. Escobar suspects Evelyn of the murder, and he insists Gittes produce her quickly or he'll face charges of his own.
Gittes returns to Evelyn's mansion, where he discovers a pair of men's eyeglasses in her salt water garden pond and her servants packing her bags. Convinced that she killed her husband, Gittes confronts Evelyn about the woman she said was her sister; Evelyn claims it is her daughter Katherine. Gittes slaps her repeatedly until she cries out "She's my sister and my daughter!" and haltingly admits to a sexual relationship with her father. Also, the eyeglasses are not her husband's, she says, since he did not wear bifocals.
Gittes makes plans for the two women to flee to Mexico. He instructs Evelyn to meet him at her butler's home in Chinatown. Gittes summons Cross to the Mulwray home to settle their deal for the girl. Cross admits he intends to incorporate the Northwest Valley into the City of Los Angeles, then irrigate and develop it. Gittes produces the bifocals -- they belong to Cross and link him to Mulwray's murder. Mulvihill appears to confiscate the glasses and force Jake to take them to the women.
When the three reach the hiding place in Chinatown, the police are already there and arrest Gittes. Evelyn will not allow Cross to approach Katherine, and when he is undeterred she shoots him in the arm and drives away with Katherine. As the car speeds off, the police open fire, killing Evelyn. Cross clutches Katherine and leads her away, while Escobar orders Gittes released, along with his associates. One of them urges, "Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown."