Universal acclaim - based on 10 Critics What's this?

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Universal acclaim- based on 121 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: Jack Nicholson is private-eye Jake Gittes, living off the murky moral climate of sunbaked, pre-war Southern California. Hired by a beautiful socialite to investigate her husband's extramarital affair, Gittes is swept into a maelstrom of double dealings and deadly deceits, uncovering a web of personal and political scandals that come crashing together for one, unforgettable night in Chinatown. (Paramount) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 10
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 10
  3. Negative: 0 out of 10
  1. 100
    [Nicholson's] performance is key in keeping Chinatown from becoming just a genre crime picture--that, and a Robert Towne screenplay that evokes an older Los Angeles, a small city in a large desert.
  2. Reviewed by: Staff (Not Credited)
    A wonderfully brooding, suspenseful revisitation of the land of film noir, Chinatown is not only one of the greatest detective films, but one of the most perfectly constructed of all films.
  3. Reviewed by: Staff (Not Credited)
    An outstanding picture.
  4. 100
    A nearly flawless example of movie composition, with close examination revealing how carefully it was put together. For those who take a less studious and more visceral approach to movie viewing, it's also worth noting that Chinatown is a superior thriller - one that will keep viewers involved and "in the moment" until the final, mournful scene has come to a conclusion.
  5. Reviewed by: Don Druker
    A bit abstract, though gorgeously shot (by John Alonzo) and cleverly plotted (by Robert Towne), Polanski's film suggests that the rules of the game are written in some strange, untranslatable language, and that everyone's an alien and, ultimately, a victim.
  6. 80
    In 1974 a director, a screenwriter, and a producer (Robert Evans, who for once deserves a few of the plaudits he's apportioned himself) could decide to beat a genre senseless and then dump it in the wilds of Greek tragedy. [Review of August 8, 2003 re-release]
  7. 63
    As much as I admire the work of both (Roman) Polanski and (Jack) Nicholson, I found Chinatown tedious from beginning to just before the end. [15 July 1974]

See all 10 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 25
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 25
  3. Negative: 0 out of 25
  1. Jul 14, 2013
    I hate Roman Polinski but sometimes criminals can be masters. "Politicians, ugly buildings and whores all get respectable if they last long enough," says John Huston's crooked construction magnate Noah Cross in this remarkable neo-noir by Roman Polanski, now nationally rereleased in cinemas (like Repulsion) in connection with a retrospective at London's BFI Southbank. What the passage of time has done for this superlative 1974 film is progressively lessen our sense of its being simply a modern pastiche of the classic 30s gumshoe thrillers. The time-gap has narrowed, and it now looks like a classic in a direct line of succession to those earlier pictures.
    As bruised and cynical as the decade that produced it, this noir classic benefits from Robert Towne's brilliant screenplay, director Roman Polanski's steady hand, and wonderful performances from Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway.
  2. Apr 27, 2014
    Chinatown is hands down Polanski's best film- it knows where it's going, is shot beautifully, and has some great acting. Every scene seems better than the last, the way Towne builds on the plot; no part of the movie isn't unnecessary. Other than that, the movie is thrilling and very entertaining, with themes about human nature, impulse, and the L.A. dream. Even the title is metaphoric; Gittes mentioned his past in Chinatown throughout the film, and he said it with a certain negative connotation. It's point is that it's hard to live with the past, especially when you don't fully understand it, and sometimes you are forced to confront it. Expand
  3. j30
    Jan 26, 2012
    This neo-noir, old school movie rocks. The masterful Roman Polanski directs this powerhouse of a movie with Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway are at their best. I can't recommend this movie enough. Expand
  4. Aug 16, 2014
    One of the best directors, Roman Polanski, showed film students and everyone else, how a good movie is directed and what screenplay it has. A good screenplay is essential for a good movie and besides Casablanca and Pulp Fiction, Chinatown's is the one of the best screenplays ever in movie industry. Marvelous performances by A-list actors like Nicholson and Faye drive the complicated story of love and mystery. Brilliant movie. Expand
  5. Jun 19, 2014
    This one was great, even if I did not love the ending. Jack Nicholson's performance here is awesome as if Faye Dunaway's. Both really command attention when on sceen and truly kill their roles. In addition, despite what you may think of the man, Roman Polanski directs this one perfectly. The cinematography is also great as it really manages to perfectly capture the look and feel of old Los Angeles and, most impressively, makes this film look timeless. Honestly, it fits in perfectly with the films that came before, but could be passed off as a newer film at the same time. The story is great as well, thanks not just to the acting, but to a great script as well. The revealing of the facts from the lies in this mystery thriller is perfectly executed and makes the film extremely to watch as you try to figure out exactly what happened here. However, the only drawback here for me is the ending. I am ok with the mood they were going for, but really, the way the events transpired left me feeling unsatisfied to a degree. Now, it does not outweigh the greatness before, but I just wish the ending was a bit better for my liking. In spite of that, Chinatown is a great, near perfect neo-noir film that does not feel aged in the least. Expand
  6. Dec 26, 2011
    I enjoyed Jack Nicholson's slow yet piercing performance as well as the cinematography, However what makes this one stand amongst other movies is Roman Polanski. His humor-full, danger-full, masterful direction hits the jack pot. Expand
  7. Aug 19, 2010
    Private Investigator, woman hires him to catch her cheating husband, husband's real wife turns up, husband drowns, corruption, twists & turns.
    Film noir with Jack Nicholson doing what he does best before he started grunting his way through films. It has a great atmosphere with it set in 1930s Los Angeles & helped by good dialogue, music & locations.
    Definitely an influence for later films with LA Confidential & Basic Instinct taking from this..

See all 25 User Reviews