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86

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

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8.8

Universal acclaim- based on 123 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)
    100
    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)
    100
    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
    80
    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: 26 out of 26
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 26
  3. Negative: 0 out of 26
  1. Jul 14, 2013
    10
    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.
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  2. Feb 10, 2014
    10
    Chinatown is one of the most impressive examples of neo-noir I have ever seen. It has got a cocky detective investigating a complex mystery, lots of smoking and drinking, music that lulls the mind, and a hot woman or two.

    When Jake is approached by a woman who wants to find out if her husband has been cheating on her, he discourages her as not everything that could be found is worth finding out about. Sure enough, he finds that there is another girl and the story leaks to the papers. But then another woman, who is the real Mrs. Mulwray, shows up and threatens to sue him.

    Mr. Mulwray is frequently spotted around places looking at soil. Mrs. Mulwray lies with her every word. What is she hiding? Jake goes from one person to another in search of the truth. He knows there is something everyone is keeping from him. That is the whole mystery and what he must find out. No one is who they seem to be. People die and he is chased and escapes death several times.

    Mr. Mulwray is against the building of a dam, arguing that the last one that he helped build resulted in an accident that killed hundreds. The city is against him as they can't seem to understand his reasoning_ LA is going dry and something must be done.

    There are swindlers at every turn and when Jake comes upon them he is overwhelmed. Mrs. Mulwray is her only ally, and whether he likes it or not, or even trusts her, there's no one else who is going to believe the fantastic story he is going to tell them for the truth.

    The time and the life depicted_ 1930s was caught authentically with the set design, costumes, cars, rooms etc. Polanski lingers on the environment and lets us become a part of it and feel it completely. Chinatown is as much about the experience of that time as it is about the water dispute and the deaths surrounding it. The sense of despair, so essential to the genre, is exemplified in the ending. From the plot and the intrigue to the mind-boggling mystery to the set design to the character development, Chinatown is one of the most perfect films ever made.
    Expand
  3. AlexP.
    Jan 14, 2006
    10
    A great movie even by todays standards with a great storyline, great acting and great camerawork.
  4. Aug 16, 2014
    10
    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
    9
    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. Jan 18, 2011
    8
    One of my favorite Film Noir movies. Stylishly shot, beautifully acted, and intriguing to the last frame. Jack Nicholson shines in an early role (you can tell just by watching him that he was destined to be a star) but perhaps the unspoken star would have to be John Huston who portrays evil to a perfection. Unfortunately for Chinatown I have never been a big fan of the film noir genre so it it made it difficult to enjoy at times, yet as such it is still a fantastic movie. Expand
  7. Aug 19, 2010
    7
    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..
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See all 26 User Reviews