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Chinatown (1974)

R  |   |  Drama, Mystery, Thriller  |  20 June 1974 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.3/10 from 200,613 users   Metascore: 86/100
Reviews: 449 user | 217 critic | 10 from Metacritic.com

A private detective hired to expose an adulterer finds himself caught up in a web of deceit, corruption and murder.



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Top Rated Movies #121 | Won 1 Oscar. Another 20 wins & 23 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Darrell Zwerling ...
Richard Bakalyan ...
Loach (as Dick Bakalyan)
Nandu Hinds ...
James O'Rear ...
Lawyer (as James O'Reare)


JJ 'Jake' Gittes is a private detective who seems to specialize in matrimonial cases. He is hired by Evelyn Mulwray when she suspects her husband Hollis, builder of the city's water supply system, of having an affair. Gittes does what he does best and photographs him with a young girl but in the ensuing scandal, it seems he was hired by an impersonator and not the real Mrs. Mulwray. When Mr. Mulwray is found dead, Jake is plunged into a complex web of deceit involving murder, incest and municipal corruption all related to the city's water supply. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





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Release Date:

20 June 1974 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Barrio Chino  »

Box Office


$6,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Phillip Lambro was originally hired to write the film's music score but it was rejected at the last minute by producer Robert Evans, leaving Jerry Goldsmith only ten days to write and record a new score. However, when it was time to put together a trailer for the film, the studio's marketing department decided that Goldsmith's new score wasn't suitable and asked Lambro to use cues from his original score instead. In exchange for allowing his music to be used for the trailer, Lambro asked to retain the publishing rights to his own score. Paramount agreed on the condition that if the music was ever released commercially, Lambro could not use the title "Chinatown". An album with Lambro's original rejected score was finally released in 2012 under the title "Los Angeles, 1937". See more »


When Gittes and Escobar pull Hollis out of the channel at the reservoir, Gittes has on a brown suit with a tan shirt under it. A scene later, when Gittes and Escobar confront Mrs. Mulwray, Gittes has on a tie similar to Escobar's in the scene before with a gray suit. Escobar's suit and tie are also different. See more »


[first lines]
Jake Gittes: All right, Curly. Enough's enough. You can't eat the Venetian blinds. I just had them installed on Wednesday.
See more »


Referenced in Society (1989) See more »


Love Theme from Chinatown
(Main Title) (uncredited)
Music by Jerry Goldsmith
Featuring Uan Rasey (trumpet soloist)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

3 October 2004 | by (Brisbane) – See all my reviews

Polanksi's 'Chinatown' stands as one of the classics of 1970s American cinema, the last classic period in American cinema. It's a great reminder of how utterly engaging cinema can be without the special effects, flimsy plots and outrageous stunts of many major studio productions now, not evening mentioning the obvious marketing tie-ins.

The cinematography and screenplay could be considered almost economical in its minimalism as it is really the story, script and characters that drive this movie forward.

Chinatown tells the story a detective, confidently played by Jack Nicholson, who gets embroiled in an investigation involving the mysterious murder (suicide?) of the head of the Water Board. During the investigation, he gets involved with Evelyn Mulwray, the wife of the murdered man who appears to want to get to the bottom of the mystery but during the course of the movie demonstrates that she is not telling the whole story and has something to hide.

Everything in this movie works from already mentioned tight editing down to the costumes and sets.

Nuff said!


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