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Chinatown (1974)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama, Mystery  |  20 June 1974 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.3/10 from 197,144 users   Metascore: 86/100
Reviews: 446 user | 216 critic | 10 from

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 250 Movies #118 | Won 1 Oscar. Another 21 wins & 22 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:





| |

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
See  »

Did You Know?


Jake Gittes was named after Jack Nicholson's friend, producer Harry Gittes. See more »


Among the items in Ida Sessions' pocketbook, which Gittes rummages through is a social security card which is 1970s style with blue and red ink, not the 1937 style which had only one color, and a different look. 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 Portlandia: Missionaries (2013) See more »


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

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

A noir masterpiece, possibly even a timeless classic...
23 December 2004 | by (Denmark) – See all my reviews

While I don't care too much for Roman Polanski's style of direction(maybe I'll grow to like it eventually, maybe not), I can't deny that this is a truly great film. Jack Nicholson really shines through in his role, and his acting in this film perfectly fits the character... his shark smile, his voice, his tone... all of it, perfect. I always thought, when watching films with Nicholson, that he'd make a great lead in a noir film, so when I found this film and discovered that it was indeed noir, I naturally saw it as soon as possible. I found the film to have a slightly slower pace than what I would have preferred or expected, but apart from that minor detail, it was flawless. The plot is great, and thoroughly interesting and involving. The pacing, while not fast all the time, is more than acceptable. There are sequences that are really intense and exciting. The acting is great... like I said earlier, Nicholson shines through and really takes this character and makes him his own. The characters are well-written and credible. The special effects are well-done and still hold up pretty well. The dialog is very well-written and memorable. There are quite a few quotable lines, as well. The cinematography is good, and even when the plot doesn't move a lot, Polanski keeps our interest through interesting angles and sequences. I liked that there was often something subtle going on in the background, while we're focusing on what's directly in front of us. While Polanski certainly doesn't possess the attention to detail that Kubrick does, he manages to put a good bit of detail into many of the shots, and there is fairly little left to coincidence or chance, much like Kubrick. The film has a few twists that are quite good, and they come as surprises... I don't think I really saw them coming, and I doubt anyone would be able to. Of course, some might not find the twists to be that impressive, but the story stands on it's own nicely as well. This is a great movie, which should be seen by just about anyone who can take it(it's more than just casually adult in nature, even though there's not that much violence or sex in it). I recommend this film to anyone who enjoys film noir, watching Jack Nicholson in perfect shape in a role that was tailor-made for him, a good mystery, Roman Polanski's direction and just a good movie with a more adult tone that many others. 10/10

102 of 155 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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