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​2:10   8:20

Must End Thursday, September 6

Starring Jack Nicholson & Faye Dunaway
Directed by Roman Polanski

(1974) “Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.” In drought-ridden 1930’s L.A., divorce-specializing private eye Jack Nicholson gets his nose re-arranged—by director Polanski in a memorably nasty cameo—after sticking it into the connivings of John Huston’s family-loving mogul Noah Cross and his mysterious daughter Faye Dunaway, culminating in a darkly operatic finale that brings together all the players for a showdown in the lawless neighborhood of the title. “I saw Chinatown not as a ‘retro’ piece or conscious imitation of classic movies shot in black and white, but as a film about the thirties seen through the camera eye of the seventies,” Polanski said, and he created both an homage to, and a classic of, film noir (opening with a b&w Double Indemnity vintage Paramount logo), as well as an examination of the birth of Los Angeles, with the stolen water rights of the actual Owens Valley War the midwife. The first production from Robert (The Kid Stays in the Picture) Evan’s own banner, Chinatown was originally to have starred his then-wife Ali MacGraw in the Dunaway part and reteamed Nicholson (his first romantic role) with screenwriter Robert Towne, who’d scripted his hit The Last Detail. But in Polanski’s hands, it became more caustic and disillusioned—a post-Watergate, post-Vietnam excursion into the heart of darkness, made with all the resources of a major studio. Amid 11 Oscar nominations (Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Cinematography, Music, etc.), the screenplay was the only winner, despite—or perhaps because of—Polanski’s revision of the ending, over Towne’s violent objections. 4K DCP Restoration. Approx. 131 min.


“Directed by Polanski in bravura style, it is undoubtedly one of the great films of the 70s.”
Time Out (London)

“The craft work, the details, are things to dream on. We are in 1937… It’s a perfect thriller, and a beautiful film noir in color.  Moreover, if you care to look into how William Mulholland once brought the water from the Owens Valley to Los Angeles, it is a piece of local history.”
– David Thomson

“The whole movie is a tour de force; it’s a period movie, with all the right cars and clothes and props, but we forget that after the first ten minutes. We've become involved in the movie’s web of mystery, as we always were with the best private-eye stories, whether written or filmed. We care about these people and want to see what happens to them.”
– Roger Ebert

“The cinematography of John A. Alonzo makes use of the wide screen in various cunning ways…yet it is not just a matter of framing shots, but also of using an ingeniously muted palette, with emphasis on tawny or burnished tones that somehow suggest a bygone era preserved in amber.”
– John Simon

“A TRULY DARING CLASSIC! The absolute zenith of 1970s Hollywood adventurousness. Still the finest script ever written. It's immensely worth seeing (or re-seeing), not only for the excellence of the movie, but as a reminder: This is what passed for mainstream entertainment in 1974, a witty, sexy and brainy experience, loaded with political cynicism. Demand more from Hollywood, Chinatown tells us.”
– Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out. Read the full piece here.

– David Edelstein, New York Magazine

Film Forum