8.2/10
273,377
512 user 256 critic

Chinatown (1974)

Trailer
3:17 | Trailer
A private detective hired to expose an adulterer finds himself caught up in a web of deceit, corruption, and murder.

Director:

Roman Polanski

Writer:

Robert Towne
Reviews
Popularity
847 ( 320)

'Chinatown': Our 45th Anniversary Supercut

Chinatown premiered 45 years ago today. We look at Roman Polanski's classic, starring Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway, with an IMDb Supercut.

Watch our video

Top Rated Movies #150 | Won 1 Oscar. Another 20 wins & 24 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Vertigo (1958)
Mystery | Romance | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

A former police detective juggles wrestling with his personal demons and becoming obsessed with a hauntingly beautiful woman.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: James Stewart, Kim Novak, Barbara Bel Geddes
Citizen Kane (1941)
Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

Following the death of publishing tycoon, Charles Foster Kane, reporters scramble to uncover the meaning of his final utterance; 'Rosebud'.

Director: Orson Welles
Stars: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Dorothy Comingore
Raging Bull (1980)
Biography | Drama | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

The life of boxer Jake LaMotta, whose violence and temper that led him to the top in the ring destroyed his life outside of it.

Director: Martin Scorsese
Stars: Robert De Niro, Cathy Moriarty, Joe Pesci
Network (1976)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A television network cynically exploits a deranged former anchor's ravings and revelations about the news media for its own profit.

Director: Sidney Lumet
Stars: Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Peter Finch
Drama | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A young couple moves in to an apartment only to be surrounded by peculiar neighbors and occurrences. When the wife becomes mysteriously pregnant, paranoia over the safety of her unborn child begins to control her life.

Director: Roman Polanski
Stars: Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon
Rear Window (1954)
Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

A wheelchair-bound photographer spies on his neighbors from his apartment window and becomes convinced one of them has committed murder.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Wendell Corey
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.7/10 X  

A criminal pleads insanity and is admitted to a mental institution, where he rebels against the oppressive nurse and rallies up the scared patients.

Director: Milos Forman
Stars: Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, Will Sampson
Drama | Mystery | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

A U.S. Army officer serving in Vietnam is tasked with assassinating a renegade Special Forces Colonel who sees himself as a god.

Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Stars: Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

As corruption grows in 1950s Los Angeles, three policemen -- one strait-laced, one brutal, and one sleazy -- investigate a series of murders with their own brand of justice.

Director: Curtis Hanson
Stars: Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce
Psycho (1960)
Horror | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

A Phoenix secretary embezzles forty thousand dollars from her employer's client, goes on the run, and checks into a remote motel run by a young man under the domination of his mother.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles
Adventure | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

A New York City advertising executive goes on the run after being mistaken for a government agent by a group of foreign spies.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason
The Two Jakes (1990)
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

The sequel to Chinatown (1974) finds J.J. "Jake" Gittes investigating adultery and murder, and the money that comes from oil.

Director: Jack Nicholson
Stars: Jack Nicholson, Harvey Keitel, Meg Tilly
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jack Nicholson ... J.J. Gittes
Faye Dunaway ... Evelyn Mulwray
John Huston ... Noah Cross
Perry Lopez ... Escobar
John Hillerman ... Yelburton
Darrell Zwerling ... Hollis Mulwray
Diane Ladd ... Ida Sessions
Roy Jenson ... Mulvihill
Roman Polanski ... Man with Knife
Richard Bakalyan ... Loach (as Dick Bakalyan)
Joe Mantell ... Walsh
Bruce Glover ... Duffy
Nandu Hinds ... Sophie
James O'Rear James O'Rear ... Lawyer (as James O'Reare)
James Hong ... Evelyn's Butler
Edit

Storyline

In 1937 Los Angeles, private investigator Jake 'J.J.' Gittes specializes in cheating-spouse cases. His current target is Hollis Mulwray, high-profile chief engineer for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, whose wife suspects him of infidelity. In following Mulwray, Gittes witnesses some usual business dealings, such as a public meeting for construction of a new dam to create additional water supply for Los Angeles, as fresh water is vital to the growing community during the chronic drought; Mulwray opposes the dam. Eventually Gittes sees Mulwray meeting with an unknown young woman who isn't 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. In his investigation of the issue behind Mulwray's framing and his own setup, Gittes is assisted by Mulwray's wife Evelyn, but he thinks she isn't being ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The most highly acclaimed film of 1974! See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Cantonese | Spanish

Release Date:

20 June 1974 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Chinatown See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$6,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$29,200,000

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$29,225,935
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

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

When Jake gets home after following Mrs. Mulwray and his phone rings, it is clearly not the sound of a 1937 telephone. The sound of his placing the receiver on the cradle is authentic, but the ringer is no earlier than the sixties. 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.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The film opens with the 1940's Paramount logo. See more »

Alternate Versions

TV versions omit the "screwing like a chinaman" joke told by Jake. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Assassination of a High School President (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

The Way You Look Tonight
from Swing Time (1936) (uncredited)
Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

One of the top 100 films of all time
6 August 2002 | by raysondSee all my reviews

The year 1974 was very memorable. That year several films were successes which consisted of Francis Coppula's "The Godfather:Part II",Alan Pakula's political thriller "The Parallex View",Robert Aldrich's "The Longest Yard",and not to mention the disaster epics of the day;Irwin Allen's "The Towering Inferno",and Mark Robson's "Earthquake" not to mention the films "The Conversation",and "The Great Gatsby","Lenny",and "Blazing Saddles" to name a few. But one film in particular stood out from all the rest and it shows why that was one of AFI's 100 top films of all time.

The year was 1974. The motion picture is "Chinatown". This was the movie that cemented Jack Nicholson as a bonafide superstar throughout the entire decade of the 1970's. This was the movie that started it all.

Jack Nicholson graduated from star to superstar playing a gumshoe in this marvelously intricate film noir of the 70's directed by Roman Polanski,who has a memorable cameo as a sadistic hood,gives Nicholson the most famous nose job in motion picture history. Robert Towne's Oscar winning script(whom they used in some acting and writing classes as a learning tool in some colleges)brilliantly depicts 1940's Los Angeles as a glittering cesspool of murder,incest,and corrupt land deals. Faye Dunaway steals the picture with a haunting performance as the film's alluring female fatale,and John Huston,as her creepy millionaire father,will make your skin crawl. The stunning finale still packs an emotional wallop. "Chinatown" was the apex of what the cinema of the 1970's was about to become,and this was the prime factor of that as well.

The film was nominated for 11 Oscars including Best Picture and won three for Best Original Score(Jerry Goldsmith),Best Screenplay(Robert Towne),and Best Supporting Actor(John Huston).


89 of 160 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 512 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Free Movies and TV Shows You Can Watch Now

On IMDb TV, you can catch Hollywood hits and popular TV series at no cost. Select any poster below to play the movie, totally free!

Browse free movies and TV series

Stream Popular Action and Adventure Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular action and adventure titles available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed