#Chinatown 1974 Tumblr posts

  • Chinatown ~ Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway ~ [Directed by Roman Polanski]


    “Are you alone?”

    “Isn’t everyone?”

    #Chinatown 1974#Jack Nicholson#Faye Dunaway#Roman Polanski #Jack Nicholson Chinatown #Faye Dunaway Chinatown #Roman Polanski Chinatown #Are you alone? Isn’t everyone? #Gee Lou I’m doing the best I can. Chinatown #Youtube
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  • Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway
    Chinatown (1974) 
    Director: Roman Polanski 

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  • Chinatown (1974) dir. Roman Polanski

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  • Jack Nicholson in Chinatown (1974)

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  • May 30, 2015

    Director: Roman Polanski

    MPAA Rating: R

    Current Movie Count: 122/1156

    Why it’s significant: This was Polanski’s last film in the United States before his extradition to France, and it was a widespread success, being nominated for an almost unheard of eleven Oscars, although it only won one for best original screenplay for writer Robert Towne. It also won four Golden Globes and three BAFTA awards. In 1991, it was inducted into the US National Film registry. 

    Favorite Line: 

    Jake Gittes: There’s no point in getting tough with me. I’m just…
    Evelyn Mulwray: I don’t get tough with anyone, Mr. Gittes. My lawyer does.


    I am 21, born in 1994. I don’t know that I can remember another movie I’ve seen with a young Jack Nicholson (yes, I know, I need to see The Shining). That was something that was odd from the movie, at least for me. I also hadn’t seen a Roman Polanski film, but I had heard of his sex crimes, which made me somewhat guilty for enjoying this one.

    The color scheme in this movie is incredibly neutral. The buildings, the outfits, and the walls all take some form of a neutral color, for the most part. Beige is used so often that it’s almost overbearing. I’m wondering if that’s not due to the fact that this movie is film noir, and Polanski is attempting to make the outfits and scenery match the theme.

    The film, set in 1937 Los Angeles, uses its film noir genre to satirize the attitudes of the day in regards to women and race. First, you have the almost eponymous racist joke that Jake Gittes tells towards the beginning before Evelyn Mulwray walks in behind him. Gittes only tells this joke after telling his secretary to “go to the little girls’ room”, as if this weren’t a joke for a “lady” of the day to hear. The irony when Mulwray creeps up behind him is hilarious. Another instance, towards the beginning of the movie, is the scene in which Mulwray first approaches Gittes because her husband is cheating on her. He tells her that if she loves her husband, she should just “let sleeping dogs lie”, an outdated notion on a monogamous marriage, but especially ironic coming out of the mouth of Jack Nicholson, the celebrity legend of women-fucking and drug-doing. I also noticed at the end that the way Gittes slaps Mulwray  was almost cartoonish, besides spoofing the antiquated notion that a deceptive woman deserves violence (unless you are interviewing a Republican Senator from Missouri, of course).

    Faye Dunaway in this movie reminds me of Bette Davis in her 1940s prime. Evelyn Mulwray’s lipstick is a deep red, and she smokes almost perpetually until the latter half of the film. She also has lax attitudes towards sex (friendly reminder that Davis married and divorced four men) and plays the bitch. I have always said that Bette Davis introduced feminism to Hollywood. In the 1930s, the phrase “women’s lib” didn’t even exist, much less feminism, but Davis asserted herself through the strong, disagreeable female characters she portrayed. Mulwray is an assertive enough woman to formulate a plan in rebellion against her father to the point of almost escaping in a hail of gunfire.

    Personally, I’m a sucker for symbolism. I have a habit of reading way too far into everything, and movies are no exception. The ubiquitous “white represents innocence” theme makes an appearance in this movie. Mulwray and her father had an incestuous child, and both are presented as characters with flaws. I don’t even think we hear Katherine, the daughter, utter more than a couple of lines. She wears an almost fluorescent white nightie the entire film. She is a woman who didn’t ask to be born, innocent in both the sex act that created her as well as in the crimes that her parents commit. The white nightie is perfect for her character because she represents innocent. Speaking of which, Mulwray just so happens to have bright red lipstick and a freshly lit cigarette when she reveals her affair. If there’s anything I have learned in literature classes, it’s that cigarettes and the color red equal sex, so those directive choices seem fitting for her.

    It’s practically an offensive stereotype, but Gittes’s friend, Curly, who helps him escape from the police, is an overweight, Tony Soprano-esque Italian. His wife answers the door with one hell of a shiner, and he wears the consequential tank top known as a “wife-beater”. I couldn’t help but notice this and laugh, but I digress; back to the symbolism.

    Salt water represents death and mortality. One line that really caught my attention was when Noah Cross, Mulwray’s father, is confronted and accused of the murder of Hollis Mulwray, Evelyn’s husband. Cross then gives a long soliloquy about the late Mulwray, saying he was “fascinated with tide pools” and that Mulwray considered salt water to be “where life begins”. The fact that his death came in a salt water pool in Cross’s butler’s backyard points to the symbolic nature of the pool, not to mention that his dead body was found in the ocean, full of salty water. This isn’t the only clue, though. The one thing that tipped Gittes off to what happened was when the butler says that salt water is bad for his grass, meaning that the water kills the grass. Everything with which the salt water comes into contact seems to die or be dead.

    The historical context will let the audience know that the film revolves around Los Angeles’s claim to water rights in the early 20th century, but 1974 was also just two years after the national embarrassment of the Watergate scandal. It’s really not much compared to the crimes Polanski would commit just a few years later, but it certainly kept the media talking for years to come. Today, the media often adds the suffix “-gate” to any sort of sensationalized controversy, but it wasn’t as common in the wake of the actual event. There is a recurring theme in Chinatown involving an intricate underground network involving mostly the water department (there were other city officials like the police who were also in on it, but the focus was definitely on the water department) who, up until a certain point, are assumed to have murdered Mulwray’s husband by opening the irrigation canal and flooding the valley where he was. So the water department was opening the gates and covering it up as a scandal, a definite allusion to the Watergate incident.

    Holistically, I’d say this movie presented a variety of complex themes, and the cinematography was fantastic. The quality is reminiscent of Technicolor. Taking everything into consideration, I give Chinatown a rating of 9/10.

    So that’s the first post! Let me know what you think in the comments about my review or the movie itself. I would really love to hear from you, and I hope you enjoy.

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  • An opening section from the Chinatown, (1974) script, by Robert Thorne

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    CURLY drops the photos on Gittes’ desk. Curly towers over GITTES and sweats heavily through his workman’s clothes, his breathing progressively more labored. A drop plunks on Gittes’ shiny desk top.

    Gittes notes it. A fan whiffs overhead. Gittes glances up at it. He looks cool and brisk in a white linen suit despite the heat. Never taking his eyes off Curly, he lights a cigarette using a lighter with a “nail” on his desk.

    Curly, with another anguished sob, turns and rams his fist into the wall, kicking the wastebasket as he does. He starts to sob again, slides along the wall where his fist has left a noticeable dent and its impact has sent the signed photos of several movie stars askew. Curly slides on into the blinds and sinks to his knees. He is weeping heavily now, and is in such pain that he actually bites into the blinds.

    Gittes doesn’t move from his chair.

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