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



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Darrell Zwerling ...
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


You get tough. You get tender. You get close to each other. Maybe you even get close to the truth. See more »


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?


Rance Howard, who plays the role of an angry farmer at the council meeting, is the father of famed actor and director Ron Howard. See more »


When Gittes visits the orange grove and crashes into the tree, you can see that a steel plate has been placed around the tree to protect it. 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 Mr. B's Lost Shorts (2001) See more »


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

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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