|Roman Polanski Director||previously directed Che?|
A private detective investigating an adultery case stumbles on to a scheme of murder that has something to do with the water of 1940s Los Angeles.
Director Cameo: [Roman Polanski] the hood who slits Jake's nose.6 More Trivia
6 More Quotes
Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown
|Jack Nicholson||J.J. 'Jake' Gittes|
|Faye Dunaway||Evelyn Mulwray|
|John Huston||Noah Cross|
|Darrell Zwerling||Hollis Mulwray|
|Diane Ladd||Ida Sessions|
|Roman Polanski||Man with Knife|
|See Full Credits|
A 1974 neo-noir film that went on to become known as one of the best film's ever even earning a spot in the Library of Congress for preservation. Directed by Roman Polanski, the film follows Jake Gittes, played by Jack Nicholson, a private detective who is hired to see if a husband is cheating on his wife. A simple job quickly turns into a murder investigation and corporate greed all surrounding Los Angeles' water problem and Jake's past as a cop is notorious Chinatown.
Originally producer Robert Evans asked Robert Towne, screenplay writer for Chinatown, to do a screenplay for the novel The Great Gatsby. Towne decided not to and took less money to write his own story instead, which would become Chinatown, because he thought Great Gatsby was already to great of a novel to turn into a movie. The screenplay was intended to be the first of a three part trilogy, just like the film was but the second wouldn't be made until 1990, The Two Jakes, and it did poorly enough at the box office that the third was never made.
Some of the characters were based off of real life men in charge of the Los Angeles Water Department. Events and references such as a dam disaster and the power struggle in the LA area at the time all revolving around resource management and private greed. The actual idea of Chinatown being a difficult place for police to work came from real life influences of cops who worked in the area saying the language barriers and variety of gangs operating in the area.
Jake Gittes is a former Los Angeles police officer and private inspector who is known for his snooping on cheating husbands and wives. A woman by the name of Evelyn Mulwray comes into Gittes' office and hires him to investigate her husband's possible cheating ways. Gittes begins his investigation and learns that the husband, Hollis Mulwray, is the chief engineer for the water department who is fighting against a new dam being built. Mulwray is crazy about water, checking out multiple water department sites around the city but never any woman. Even a heated argument with an older man doesn't hit pay dirt until Gittes finally catches Mulwray with a young woman named Katherine.
The photos he snaps make the newspaper in only a day and Mulwray's reputation is nearly ruined prompting a visit from Evelyn Mulwray, who isn't the woman who hired him. Evelyn lays a lawsuit on Gittes who now realizes he was tricked by a fake Mrs. Mulwray and now wants to fix his own reputation as well as get to the bottom to who tricked him. After speaking to the real Evelyn Mulwray he is able to get her to drop her lawsuit and tells her he wants to speak to her husband.
In an attempt to seek out Mr. Mulwray again Gittes heads to a nearby reservoir where he only finds police officers. Spotting his former partner Lt. Lou Escobar, Gittes soon learns that Mulwray's body was discovered in the reservoir. When both Gittes and Mrs. Mulwray arrive at the police headquarters she lies to the police saying she hired Mr. Gittes to put an end to the rumors he unwittingly started to give him an excuse for being at the reservoir and Gittes informs her he thinks Mr. Mulwray was murdered. Gittes returns to the reservoir that night in hopes of looking for clues. He hears a nearby gunshot and after taking cover in the reservoir's aqueduct is nearly drowned when a flush of water runs down the channel suddenly. After staggering out of the aqueduct he is confronted by to men, one holds him and the other threatens him by cutting his nose telling him next time its the whole thing.
Despite the injury, and the bandage on his face, Gittes continues his investigation and while at his office gets a phone call from a woman claiming to be the fake Mrs. Mulwray, Ida Sessions. Ida refuses to meet Gittes or tell him who hired her in the first place but she does mention a name in that day's newspaper. Gittes meets with Mrs. Mulwray and tells her what he has discovered and discovered that Mrs. Mulwray's maiden name is Cross and that her father, who she is sensitive to talk about, and her husband were at once business partners.Gittes decides to visit the water department and recognizes Mulwray with the man he was having the argument with, Noah Cross, Evelyn's father. Mr. Mulwray and Noah Cross had once privately owned the entire water department for Los Angeles but had a falling out when Mr. Mulwray insisted the people control and own their own water.
On visiting with Noah Cross for lunch Gittes is hired by Cross to begin looking for Mr. Mulwray's mistress, Katherine, who hasn't been seen since his death. Cross seems to think that finding the mistress will lead to the cause behind Mulwray's death. Gittes heads to the hall of records looking at recent land purchases outside the city limits in the nearby valley. Gittes notices the names of recent purchasers of most of the land in the valley, which is mostly troubled orange grove owners, match up with names from the obituary in the newspaper. Investigating one of the nearby orange groves Gittes is shot at and attempts to drive away only to have his tire shot out and beaten up. He attempts to explain who he is and that Mrs. Mulwray hired him but is hit over the head after insulting one of the farm hands.Gittes wakes up at the farm house with Mrs. Mulwray over him. The farmers explain that they were afraid Gittes was someone from the water department who have been sabotaging their farm or a real estate representitive who has been pressuring farmers to sell their farms on the cheap. As Mrs. Mulwray gives Gittes a ride back to town he has a chance to compare the hall of records information with that day's newspaper. Gittes summizes that someone has been driving land prices down and diverting water away from the orange grooves, buying up the land for really cheap, and will return the water back to the area driving land values through the roof. Mr. Mulwray must have figured the entire scheme out, explaining his behavior of checking out many of the water reservoirs around the city shortly before his death.
Gittes and Mrs. Mulwray decided to visit a nearby, high end, retirement home posing as a couple attempting to secure a spot for their aging father. Gittes notices almost all the names on an activity board match names from the hall of records and after asking one of the woman if she knows that she owns very profitable land learns that the elderly people know nothing of the scheme. The retirement home also seems to be associated with Noah Cross' club but Gittes is questioned by the owner of the home and just barely avoids being shot by some henchman before he and Mrs. Mulwray are able to drive away.Back at the Mulwray mansion Gittes and Evelyn give in to temptation and share a bed together for the night. While discussing some of Gittes' past on the police force Mrs. Mulwray receives and urgent call telling Gittes that she must leave right away and that he must trust her. As she leaves Gittes follows her to her butler's house where, through the window, Gittes spots Katherine being held in a bedroom who is obviously distraught. Gittes confronts Mrs. Mulwray who admits that Katherine is her sister.
Gittes heads home to finally get some rest only to have Escobar call him telling him Ida Session's needs to see him. Gittes brushes the call off but Escobar calls again and insists. Gittes heads to Session's home and finds it broken into, Session's murdered, and his former partner wondering why she had Gittes' phone number and some of the photos from his original investigation into Mr. Mulwray. Escobar tells Gittes that Mulwray had to have been murdered since the coroner's report came back that Mr. Mulwray's lungs had been filled with salt water and his body was found in a fresh water reservoir.
Back at the Mulwray mansion to find Evelyn's bags being packed and spots a pair of glasses in the Mulwray's garden pond, which happens to be salt water. Gittes figures that Mr. Mulwray had to have been drowned in the pond and the glasses all but prove that Mrs. Mulwray is the killer. Finally catching up to Mrs. Mulwray at her butler's house he confronts her, calling Escobar to tell him where to meet them, and asks for Mrs. Mulwray's explanation. After denying she killed her husband she begins to crack claiming that Katherine is both her sister and her daughter and after some convincing she admits that she is really both and that her father, Noah Cross, had raped her when she was 15.
As Gittes sits and lets the heavy news sink in and lets Mrs. Mulwray continue packing to leave she casually mentions that the glasses Gittes has aren't Mr. Mulwrays because he didn't wear bifocals. Gittes tells Mrs. Mulwray that she needs to escape and tells her to head to her butler's other home in Chinatown. Escobar now believes that Gittes is covering something up and that Cross the the true murderer behind everything, including the water scheme.
After being taking to a fake house by his former partner Gittes convinces a former client, who still owes him for his previous work, to take Mrs. Mulwray and Katherine on his boat to Mexico to escape Mr. Cross. Before heading to meet Evelyn, Gittes meets with Cross who admits to killing Mr. Mulwray, raping his daughter, and forces Gittes to return the evidence he has and take him to Katherine. Gittes, with a gun to him, obliges and leads them to Chinatown where they find Gittes' partners under arrest and Escobar places Gittes under arrest.
Cross then spots Mrs. Mulwray leaving and attempts talk to Katherine. Evelyn gets violent, fighting Cross off, telling him if he touches her she will kill hm and brandishes a gun. When Cross tries to open Katherine's door Evelyn fires which, as she drives away, draws fire from the police officers. The final shot meant to stop her goes through her head. And as Gittes is released, a favor from his former partner, and his current partner tears him from the scene. Cross comforts and takes away a grieving Katherine as Gittes' partner tells him to let it go, its Chinatown.
The release and reception of Chinatown is everything a movie maker could honestly hope for. Considered a classic the film made Jack Nicholson into a new star and the film itself garnered 11 total nominations for Academy Awards and won for best original screenplay. It would go on to be named as one of the greatest films of all time and added certain quotes into popular culture. The screenplay especially is considered one of the best written in the film industry.
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