Chinatown (1974) - Plot Summary Poster


Plot Summary

  • 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
  • It's 1937 Los Angeles. Specializing in cases of cheating spouses, private investigator Jake 'J.J.' Gittes is tailing Hollis Mulwray, whose wife suspects him of marital infidelity. Mulwray is the high profile chief engineer for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Him being high profile is because of the chronic drought in the Los Angeles area and the importance of fresh water to the growing community. Most of what Gittes witnesses in following Mulwray are some usual and some not so usual business dealings, among the former being a public meeting for construction of a new dam to create an additional water supply for Los Angeles, the dam which Mulwray opposes. But Gittes eventually witnesses Mulwray meeting with a young unknown woman who is not his wife. Once news of the supposed tryst between Mulwray and this woman hits the media, additional information comes to light that makes Gittes believe that Mulwray is being framed for something and that he himself is being set-up. Gittes is assisted in his investigation of the issue behind Mulwray's framing and his own set-up by Mulwray's wife, Evelyn Mulwray. Despite Evelyn's help, Gittes also believes that she isn't being totally forthright with him. The further he gets into the investigation, the more secrets he uncovers about the professional and personal dealings of the Mulwrays, which includes Mulwray's former business partnership with Evelyn's father, Noah Cross. The identity of the unknown woman may be the key to uncovering the whole story.

    - Written by Huggo
  • It is the Great Depression era, September 1937 and particularly, it is the period of the historic Los Angeles - Owens Valley Water Wars. J.J. "Jake" Gittes (Jack Nicholson) is a brash private investigator. Jake uses methods that will yield results; because his small firm depends on publicity, he is not shy with the media. Hollis Mulwray is the Commissioner and Chief Engineer for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power; given the circumstances and the issues of the times, Mulwray is one of the most powerful and influential politicians in the city. Jake is hired to follow Mulwray; he goes to a commission meeting and to various reservoirs, aqueducts, dams and waterways. Jake also tails him to a cozy apartment, where he snaps a photo of Mulwray in the clenches of a young blonde. The photo and juicy story make front page headlines. At his office, Jake is confronted by the real Mrs. Mulwray, (Faye Dunaway) an angry beauty, and her attorney, who hands Jake a law suit. With his reputation at stake, Jake is anxious to talk to Hollis Mulwray, but he is unable to locate Mulwray at his office or apartment or other haunts. At the Mulwray home, Evelyn Mulwray receives Jake, but she is evasive and uneven; then she offers to dismiss the law suit. When Jake persists, she suggests Jake try Oak Pass at Stone Canyon Reservoir, as her husband likes to walk there every day at lunch. Jake reaches Oak Pass and Hollis Mulwray is, indeed, at the reservoir, but so are the police. Mulwray fell, drowned, and his body washed up in a runoff channel. When Evelyn arrives at Oak Pass, she lies to the police, and Jake does not expose her lies. Evelyn piques Jake's interest and he makes further investigation. After an attack, Jake informs Evelyn her husband was murdered, Jake soon becomes embroiled within the mystery of Mulwray's death and other questions which arise: Who was the imposter and who hired her? Why was she hired? Who is Evelyn Mulwray and who's her daddy? Jake learns "gold" is really a five-letter word, more valuable than oil or diamonds, in this 1974 classic.

    - Written by LA-Lawyer
  • Los Angeles in the early-1930s. A private detective, JJ Gittes (played by Jack Nicholson), is hired by a woman to investigate her husband, as she suspects he is having an affair. Her husband, Hollis Mulwray, is the chief water engineer for the city of Los Angeles. Soon after Gittes delivers the photos that seem to confirm her suspicions, he meets the real wife of the man. Intrigued, Gittes investigates further. Then Mr Mulwray turns up dead...

    - Written by grantss
  • Los Angeles detective Jake Gittes is hired by a woman claiming to be a Mrs. Mulwray to spy on her husband. Shortly after Gittes is hired, the real Mrs. Mulwray appears in his office threatening to sue if he doesn't drop the case immediately. Gittes pursues the case anyway, slowly uncovering a vast conspiracy centering on water management, state and municipal corruption, land use and real estate, and involving at least one murder.

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

    - Written by Anonymous


Set in 1937 Los Angeles, a private investigator named Jake "J.J." Gittes (Nicholson) is hired to spy on Hollis Mulwray...

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