An undercover state cop who has infiltrated an Irish gang and a mole in the police force working for the same mob race to track down and identify each other before being exposed to the enemy, after both sides realize their outfit has a rat.
Irwin "Fletch" Fletcher, Los Angeles journalist, really lives for his profession. As Jane Doe, he publishes articles that have caused several heads to roll in the past. Now, Fletch is at it... See full summary »
Joe Don Baker,
A miserable conman and his partner pose as Santa and his Little Helper to rob department stores on Christmas Eve. But they run into problems when the conman befriends a troubled kid, and the security boss discovers the plot.
Billy Bob Thornton,
Los Angeles 1948: private eye Jake Gittes shall convict the client Jake Berman's wife of adultery. But instead of making her a scene like planned, Berman shoots her lover in affect - or was it murder? Gittes is surprised when he learns that the dead was Berman's companion, who now inherits his share of the company. Of course the police doesn't believe it was affect and suspects Gittes too. The dead lover's widow manages to force Gittes into investigating against his own client... The trace leads back to an old case in Chinatown. Written by
Tom Zoerner <Tom.Zoerner@informatik.uni-erlangen.de>
Jack Nicholson performed a number of roles on this picture. Nicholson was top billed lead actor and star, the film's director, an uncredited producer, and the movie's narrator. See more »
On the golf course Gittes tosses away his cigarette to drive the ball. When he is shown standing by to watch Berman tee off, he takes a drag on a cigarette that he not only did not have time to light, but did not have time to smoke it down to its current length. See more »
Although "Chinatown" is one of my favorite movies, I had put off seeing "The Two Jakes" for years because I kept hearing how bad it was. I finally summoned the courage to watch it, hoping to be pleasantly surprised. It was actually worse than I expected.
The best thing about "The Two Jakes" is the production design, which immerses us in a convincing re-creation of 1948 Los Angeles. Nothing has been overlooked, although some details seem forced (such as when J.J. Gittes carefully tunes his car radio to an episode of "The Whistler," but arrives at his office just seconds later). I've heard that an ATM is visible somewhere but I didn't catch it.
Unfortunately, period details aside, the film is just not very interesting. Towne's screenplay feels like a retread of "Chinatown," with oil substituted for water. Even some of the characters seem recycled (there's a sadistic gangster and a rich, powerful old guy). In contrast to the tight storytelling of "Chinatown," "The Two Jakes" is meandering and unfocused, with scenes and characters that serve no apparent purpose. Jack Nicholson's direction is thoroughly bland and unimaginative; it's easy to see why his directing career hasn't been successful.
By far the worst thing about "The Two Jakes" is the music score. "Chinatown" has a brilliant, haunting score by the legendary Jerry Goldsmith; his music is an integral part of that film's success. "The Two Jakes" was scored by Van Dyke Parks, whose previous credits include "Sesame Street Presents Follow That Bird" and (surprise!) another Nicholson-directed film. His insipid score gives the film a made-for-TV feel.
With a more creative, disciplined director and a better composer, "The Two Jakes" could have been far better. However, the story has almost nothing new to tell us, and the same probably would have been true of the never-produced third film, "Cloverleaf." So it's probably a good thing that the failure of "The Two Jakes" killed off any chances of another sequel.
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