By Anne Hurley
Roman Polanski's brooding film noir exposes the darkest side of the
land of sunshine, the Los Angeles of the 1930s, where power is the only
currency--and the only real thing worth buying. Jack Nicholson is J.J.
Gittes, a private eye in the Chandler mold, who during a routine
straying-spouse investigation finds himself drawn deeper and deeper into a
jigsaw puzzle of clues and corruption. The glamorous Evelyn Mulwray (a
dazzling Faye Dunaway) and her titanic father, Noah Cross (John Huston),
are at the black-hole center of this tale of treachery, incest, and
political bribery. The crackling, hard-bitten script by Robert Towne won a
well-deserved Oscar, and the muted color cinematography makes the
goings-on seem both bleak and impossibly vibrant. Polanski himself has a
brief, memorable cameo as the thug who tangles with Nicholson's nose. One
of the greatest, most completely satisfying crime films of all time.
Chinatown received an Academy Award
for Writing (Best Original Screenplay; Robert Towne). Chinatown
also received Academy Awards nominations
for Best Picture (Robert Evans - Producer), Actor (Jack Nicholson),
Actress (Faye Dunaway), Directing (Roman Polanski), Art Direction/Set
Decoration (Richard Sylbert - Art Direction, W. Stewart Campbell - Art
Direction, Ruby Levitt - Set Decoration), Cinematography (John A. Alonzo),
Costume Design (Anthea Sylbert), Film Editing (Sam O'Steen), Music Scoring
Awards (Best Original Dramatic Score; Jerry Goldsmith), and Sound (Bud
Grenzbach, Lawrence Jost).