8.2/10
256,076
489 user 237 critic

Chinatown (1974)

Trailer
3:16 | Trailer

Watch Now

With Prime Video

ON DISC
ALL
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
1,686 ( 94)
Top Rated Movies #131 | Won 1 Oscar. Another 20 wins & 24 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

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, as the violence and temper that leads him to the top in the ring destroys his life outside of it.

Director: Martin Scorsese
Stars: Robert De Niro, Cathy Moriarty, Joe Pesci
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

As corruption grows in 1950s LA, 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
Sunset Blvd. (1950)
Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

A screenwriter is hired to rework a faded silent film star's script, only to find himself developing a dangerous relationship.

Director: Billy Wilder
Stars: William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Erich von Stroheim
Taxi Driver (1976)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

A mentally unstable veteran works as a nighttime taxi driver in New York City, where the perceived decadence and sleaze fuels his urge for violent action by attempting to liberate a presidential campaign worker and an underage prostitute.

Director: Martin Scorsese
Stars: Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Cybill Shepherd
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
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

During the Vietnam War, Captain Willard is sent on a dangerous mission into Cambodia to assassinate a renegade Colonel who has set himself up as a god among a local tribe.

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

An ex-prize fighter turned longshoreman struggles to stand up to his corrupt union bosses.

Director: Elia Kazan
Stars: Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Lee J. Cobb
Rear Window (1954)
Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 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 | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

An in-depth examination of the ways in which the U.S. Vietnam War impacts and disrupts the lives of people in a small industrial town in Pennsylvania.

Director: Michael Cimino
Stars: Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, John Cazale
Amadeus (1984)
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

The life, success and troubles of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, as told by Antonio Salieri, the contemporary composer who was insanely jealous of Mozart's talent and claimed to have murdered him.

Director: Milos Forman
Stars: F. Murray Abraham, Tom Hulce, Elizabeth Berridge
Adventure | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

A hapless New York advertising executive is mistaken for a government agent by a group of foreign spies, and is pursued across the country while he looks for a way to survive.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.7/10 X  

A criminal pleads insanity after getting into trouble again and once in the mental institution rebels against the oppressive nurse and rallies up the scared patients.

Director: Milos Forman
Stars: Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, Will Sampson
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:

You get tough. You get tender. You get close to each other. Maybe you even get close to the truth. 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:

Barrio Chino See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$6,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$29,200,000

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$30,000,000, 31 January 2000
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

Being the most famous "Neo Noir" ever made since the "Film Noir" era ended in the late fifties, one of the genres for this movie is the key genre for most Neo Noir films... Thriller. See more »

Goofs

When Gittes awakes and sits up on the ranch house porch after being being knocked unconscious in the Trident Ranch orange grove location, one can clearly see a circa 1974 refrigerator through the window behind him. 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 »

Connections

Referenced in Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life: Summer (2016) See more »

Soundtracks

The Vagabond King Waltz
Brian Hooker and Rudolf Friml
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

A very classy, consistently engaging and dark detective story
3 January 2005 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

Jake Gittes is a former cop turned private detective. When he is contracted by a Mrs Mulwray to find out if her husband is having an affair, he takes to trailing Water Company Executive Hollis Mulwray. Mulwray appears to only have water and a dry riverbed on his mind but eventually they catch him with a young woman, although almost immediately the news gets leaked to the papers and Mulwray goes missing, only to turn up dead. At this point the real Mrs Mulwray comes to Gittes threatening to sue him for his involvement and Jake realises that he had been set up to set up the Mulwrays. He continues his investigation into the murder only to find a conspiracy involving thousands of gallons of water being wasted during a drought and the mysterious presence of Mrs Mulwray's father, Noah Cross.

As a fan of film noir and tough detective movies, I am too often put off by modern entries into the genre that try to replace atmosphere and intelligence by just having nudity and swearing; the genre managed atmosphere without these in the forties and fifties but yet modern films seem to rely on them. With Chinatown however, everything works well as a homage to the best years of the genre and, as such, is very well set in the period and is of suitable presentation even if the material and tone is darker and harder than would have been allowed years ago. This is not to say it is just a copy and paste from better films because it isn't and indeed stands out as one of the best detective noirs I have seen in ages. The plot is always going to be the most important thing and it gets it spot on throughout, doing the proper thing of starting with a simple story and continually building it more and more complex as it goes. Unlike some other "classics" of the genre, Chinatown manages to do this without ever losing the audience and I found the plot to be both rewardingly complex but yet still very easy to follow.

Needless to say, things are very dark and the script is convincingly dark and miserable, leading to an ending that is as depressing as I've seen – not so much in what actually happens but also in the wider implications for the characters that the credits prevent us from seeing. Director Polanski does a great job of putting this story in a lush setting that produces a real strong sense of period but also manages to always be showing us the darkness coming through subtly throughout the movie. Of course it helps that he also has a great cast to work with. Jack Nicholson is iconic in this role and, if I had to pick one film to act as an introduction to Nicholson then it would be this one. He is tough yet damaged, upright but seedy and he brings out his complex character well. Dunaway has less screen time but is just as impressive with a similarly dark role. Huston adds class and manages to ooze menace while also coming across as a harmless old man. The support cast are all fine but really the film belongs to these three, with Nicholson being the stand out role.

Overall this is a very classy film that has stood up very well to become a well-deserved classic. The story is complex, mysterious yet simple to follow; it is dark and seedy without relying on swearing or nudity to set the atmosphere. The direction is great, with a real atmosphere and sense of time and place that is matched by a great collection of performances delivering a great script.


194 of 262 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 489 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

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