Thursday, June 7, 2007

Chinatown (1974)

Directed by Roman Polanski. Starring Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, and John Huston.

Polanski's superlative neo-noir detective story feels like an urban legend from Los Angeles' sordid past. Nicholson stars as J.J. Gittes, a private eye who takes an adultery case and then stumbles onto murder and then a deeper conspiracy, centering around a father and daughter (Huston and Dunaway, respectively). Polanski respects the classics of the genre, while adding a more contemporary vein of sadness, ably assisted by Nicholson's performance, which uses the actor's usual sardonicism to mask deep and untold sorrows. Robert Towne's screenplay is often singled out as one of the greatest ever produced in Hollywood, setting a compelling and suspenseful mystery against the backdrop of the burgeoning L.A. metropolis of the 1930s, and the film builds to a strange, tragic, and unforgettable climax in the titular neighborhood. As much as I love vintage detective movies, this is still my favorite in the genre.

No comments: