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Chinatown (1974)

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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 #127 | Won 1 Oscar. Another 20 wins & 23 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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

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

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The most highly acclaimed film of 1974! See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

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Details

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Release Date:

20 June 1974 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Barrio Chino  »

Box Office

Budget:

$6,000,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film's enigmatic title is a metaphor for moral corruption by unseen forces. Throughout the film, Jake Gittes refers to his time as a police officer in Chinatown, where "you can't always tell what's going on." In Hollywood, the movie's line, "Forget it, Jake, it's Chinatown," has become a mantra for those who have been burned or snubbed by the entertainment industry - the implication being that it's better to "let it go" than make an issue of it, because that's just how the industry works. See more »

Goofs

They're in a drought and heat, yet when Jake enters the orange grove, fully ripe oranges can be seen. Oranges ripen in Winter and are all picked before Spring. See more »

Quotes

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

I Can't Get Started
Ira Gershwin and Vernon Duke
As Recorded by Bunny Berigan and His Orchestra
(Courtesy of RCA Records)
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

An excellent piece of filmmaking.
21 November 2001 | by (Rancho Cucamonga, CA USA) – See all my reviews

If it wasn't for the fact that most of the cast would have been too young or not born yet, this movie could have been made in the 1930's or 1940's. It reminds one of the film noirs that Hollywood used to make during that time period. It is a superb example of film making, certainly among the 20 best movies I have ever seen.

Jack Nicholson is private detective Jake Gitties, who can be as hard-boiled as Humphrey Bogart's Phil Marlowe. But Gitties is different: He is intelligent, dresses well and has associates whom work with him. Gitties is hired by Evelyn Mulwray (Faye Dunaway) to investigate into an extra-martial affair she believes her husband is having. However, the investigation leads into bigger things involving the water supply of Los Angeles, which is in the middle of a drought. A series of double-crosses, murders and plot twists all lead into a climatic showdown in Chinatown which has a surprising conclusion.

If the saying `They don't make them like they used to' was ever more true, it was with this movie. Sex is only suggested between the Nicholson and Dunaway characters, yet it is convincing enough. And although Faye Dunaway is a beautiful woman, we never see frontal nudity of her (Directors today would do just the opposite). Some of the plot twists also would not be possibly made today, especially the ending (Which, if you haven't seen the movie, I cannot reveal).

Nicholson is a tour de force in his role as Gitties, but the rest of the supporting cast (Including John Huston as Mulwray's deceptive father) is equally superb. As to how Nicholson could loose the Best Actor Oscar to Art Carney in Harry and Toto is beyond me. Faye Dunaway was also nominated for Best Actress, only to loose to Ellen Burstyn for Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore. Fortunately, Nicholson and Duanway have both won Oscars since. In addition, the film itself received nominations for Best Picture and Best Director for Roman Polanski (Who has a cameo in the movie as the knife-welding thug who cuts Nicholson's nose), but those Oscars would be lost to The Godfather, Part II. The only Oscar won was for Robert Towne's screenplay, which is today considered the model for film writing. After watching the movie, one will know why. From the stellar performances to the sharp direction to the superb screenplay, this is a cinema treasure.


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