ByAaron Washing, writer at

Chinatown is one of the few films Roman Polanski directed in America before he was exiled for his crime. The film itself was nominated for eleven Academy Awards and shockingly only won one for Best Original Screenplay.

The film is about a private investigator named J.J. Gittes (played by Jack Nicholson) who is hired by Evelyn Mulwray (played by Faye Dunaway) to surveil her husband. One day, he gets murdered and it's up to Gittes and Mulwray to solve the case. This is the best I can summarize the plot without giving too much away.

This film is like a Hitchcock film, it plays with the audience like a piano, with driving buildup leading up to a masterful payoff. Say what you will about Roman Polanski's personal life, but he is such a talented filmmaker, he really captures the 50s atmosphere with the beautiful cinematography and a haunting score by the late great Jerry Goldsmith. The screenplay by Robert Towne does a fantastic job at getting the audience invested in the mystery while also getting to know the characters through its wonderful dialogue and tight story.

Gittes is such a complex and fascinating character, brilliantly portrayed by Jack Nicholson. There is one scene where Mulwray tells him to stay away from the case, since part of his got cut off, but he tells that he "likes his nose" and that he means business and he's not giving up no matter what happens to him. That scene was done in one shot without any cuts allowing the actors to really dive into their characters as the scene plays on.

Chinatown is one of the greatest films ever made, though pretty shocking at the time of its release, with career-defining performances from both Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway, immaculate directing, and a tight screenplay filled with unforgettable lines.


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