Chinatown

User Score
8.9

Universal acclaim- based on 203 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 1 out of 203

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User Reviews

  1. Dec 26, 2011
    8
    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.
  2. JonathanH.
    Apr 3, 2004
    10
    One of the all time greats.
  3. TonyS.
    Jun 13, 2004
    10
    Classic.
  4. Pauld.
    Jun 8, 2005
    10
    I saw this when I was young in 1974, and recently saw it again, and it was just as great the second time. Superb acting, script, and direction.
  5. glenns.
    Jul 17, 2005
    10
    Perhaps the best written screenplay of all time.
  6. 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 ofI 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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  7. May 4, 2015
    10
    Ida Sessions: "Are you alone?"

    J.J. Gittes: "Isn't everybody?" The story to Chinatown is about a private detective, Jake Gittes, hired to investigate an adultery case, stumbles on the plot of a murder involving incest and the privatization of water through state and municipal corruption, land use and real estate. If he doesn't drop the case at once he faces threats of legal action,
    Ida Sessions: "Are you alone?"

    J.J. Gittes: "Isn't everybody?"

    The story to Chinatown is about a private detective, Jake Gittes, hired to investigate an adultery case, stumbles on the plot of a murder involving incest and the privatization of water through state and municipal corruption, land use and real estate. If he doesn't drop the case at once he faces threats of legal action, but he pursues it anyway, slowly uncovering a vast conspiracy.

    Some people may not know but I got a lot of things to do and those things are reviewing 8 Movies, three TV shows and two video games so basically that's why I'm a bit behind of the new releases. Then and now I have to take a little break or a day off from doing this because well I can be a bit tried of doing this, but I still have fun reviewing and I'm extremely proud to be talking about the great classics and the new films, TV shows and games that come out. Speaking of cult classics, Chinatown was on top of my list to watch next, because I heard nothing but amazing things about this movie and after watching it I can agree that this movie was outstanding.

    Jack Nicholson is now known as the single best actor of all time just like Daniel Day-Lewis, Robert De Niro, Marlon Brando and Al Pacino, and in this movie his talent dose shine in this movie. He played his so well that I actually didn't fully hate him because in the movie his character is kind of a A-hole but I didn't hate him, if a different director took the director chair and directed the movie differently then maybe I would have dislike him. Jack Nicholson did probably his 4th best performance that I've seen from him.

    The movie is filled with lines that I won't lie but the lines have stuck with me after the movie was over and I got to give the writers credit for that. The music in this movie has that smooth jazzy beat to it and that totally fitted the movie so well. The cinematography in this movie was shot beautifully and just perfection with it's open and normal shots.

    For problems I don't really have any problems to be honest. I didn't find a single thing that I dislike or bothered me, no wonder it's classic.
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  8. camdenl
    Oct 9, 2005
    10
    The last stand of film noir.... in color.
  9. DaveC.
    Jan 7, 2006
    10
    How Polanksi went from this to mediocrity like the Pianist I'll never know I can't pick fault with this film, a genius script and skillful direction blend seamlessly into one of the greatest films of the 70s. There has seldom been a film of such incredible depth.
  10. AlexP.
    Jan 14, 2006
    10
    A great movie even by todays standards with a great storyline, great acting and great camerawork.
  11. Jan 8, 2013
    10
    The best Neo-Noir movie ever made. It combines all the intrinsic motivators of the sole and the hunting of human beings. It still got shunned from the Oscars though because of the godfather. I don't have much to say other than the best, simply the best
  12. MikeN.
    Aug 9, 2003
    10
    Brilliant performances, brilliant screenplay, surprises, mystery and excitement. What more do you want?
  13. Layne
    Aug 4, 2003
    8
    It's a shame that Hollywood can't make movies like this any more, because Chinatown is a wonderful film with superb directing and a brilliant performance by Jach Nicholson, who carries the movie effortlessly and is always a joy to watch. Not many actors alive today can succeed in doing just that.
  14. TimD.
    Aug 16, 2003
    10
    Perhaps the greatest movie ever made. It has it all. a great script, acting, direction, photography and a great music score. I could not ask for more in a movie.
  15. YoonC.
    Sep 14, 2003
    10
    One of Polanski's best, Chinatown is one of the best(and few) examples of revitalizing and expanding conventions of past Hollywood. Instead of a mere gushing homage to noir, Polanski explores the darker territories left untouched during more censorious times. The brooding climax is one of the most pessimistic and dark in cinema. Features Nicholson and Dunaway at their best. Great One of Polanski's best, Chinatown is one of the best(and few) examples of revitalizing and expanding conventions of past Hollywood. Instead of a mere gushing homage to noir, Polanski explores the darker territories left untouched during more censorious times. The brooding climax is one of the most pessimistic and dark in cinema. Features Nicholson and Dunaway at their best. Great screenplay by Robert Towne, with brilliant alteration of ending supplied by Polanski. Collapse
  16. J.RyanG.
    May 27, 2005
    9
    My favorite era of filmmaking began around 1974. Until the mid-eighties, films moved slow, developed their characters, and cared about their story. This is one of the finest examples of such filmmaking. Compared with the likes of the overrated "L.A. Confidential," this film seems even greater than it is. But, thanks in large part to Jack Nicholson's finest performance and a My favorite era of filmmaking began around 1974. Until the mid-eighties, films moved slow, developed their characters, and cared about their story. This is one of the finest examples of such filmmaking. Compared with the likes of the overrated "L.A. Confidential," this film seems even greater than it is. But, thanks in large part to Jack Nicholson's finest performance and a surprisingly sinister John Huston cameo, "Chinatown" is fairly great. Expand
  17. 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
    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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  18. 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 soOne 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
  19. Jun 9, 2013
    7
    Often found on ‘critics choice’ lists Chinatown is certainly amongst the best movies of the 70’s as well as ranking amongst the legendary Jack Nicholson’s greatest movies. Playing with film noir conventions the movie gradually unveils its ever thickening plot throughout its two hour running time to reach its unexpected conclusion.
  20. j30
    Jan 26, 2012
    10
    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.
  21. Apr 10, 2016
    8
    How the creators did such a movie where, throughout each conversation, we are continuously trying to solve this mystery in our heads, is unbelievable. Also, in my opinion, Jack Nicholson did a terrific job performing as an unstoppable investigator being the leading character. It was the first time I saw this version of the young Jack Nicholson and I am amazed by it, it was a prove to meHow the creators did such a movie where, throughout each conversation, we are continuously trying to solve this mystery in our heads, is unbelievable. Also, in my opinion, Jack Nicholson did a terrific job performing as an unstoppable investigator being the leading character. It was the first time I saw this version of the young Jack Nicholson and I am amazed by it, it was a prove to me that he is indeed a great actor that can do all types of movies, from this movie to "The Shining" where he loses his mind to being funny like in "The Bucket List". Expand
  22. 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 LosThis 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
  23. Oct 17, 2012
    10
    Roman Polanski's American made film, first since Rosemary's Baby shows him again in total command of talent and physical filmmaking elements. I seen The Carrie Teaser Trailer , This is the 4th movie of Carrie ,Why A Carrie Remake, in God's name?!!!! It's a perfect film! Brian de Palma filmed it perfectly, Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie are absolutely perfect ,they both got Oscar nominationsRoman Polanski's American made film, first since Rosemary's Baby shows him again in total command of talent and physical filmmaking elements. I seen The Carrie Teaser Trailer , This is the 4th movie of Carrie ,Why A Carrie Remake, in God's name?!!!! It's a perfect film! Brian de Palma filmed it perfectly, Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie are absolutely perfect ,they both got Oscar nominations out of it, for God sake! Chloë look's like Angela Bettis in Carrie 2002 ,For me the face of Sissy Spacek in Carrie 1976 is more scary ,i am not gonna spend my money for see this silly remake ,Why the hell carrie burns the Town? the people who lives in the town they didn't do noting to carrie ,it's just stupid this New Carrie movie look's like Carrie 2002 or Volcano Expand
  24. Sep 5, 2014
    7
    With a narrative that unfolds like a tangled, twisted slinky and camerawork that's as striking and impressive as the film's performances, "Chinatown" rightfully earns itself a place within the dark and complex landscape that is the noir genre.
  25. 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
    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.
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  26. Jan 11, 2015
    10
    As watchable today as it was when it was made, Polanski and writer Towne's ode to LA noir is one of the last great films to come out of the final years of the studios. Nicholson's private eye being played by everybody is the reminder of how well Polanski works with actors and how much he could have achieved if fate had not dealt him a different hand. A must see for anybody serious about film.
  27. Apr 27, 2014
    10
    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;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
  28. 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 storyOne 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
  29. chw
    Nov 14, 2015
    9
    Chinatown was a great neo-noir. This should have won Best Picture if The Godfather Part II didn't. There was great acting from every single person, doesn't matter how small their role was.
  30. Apr 18, 2015
    10
    This movie is perfect in every respect -- acting, directing, writing, costumes and music. It is perhaps Nicholson's best role. One of the few where he does not scream or yell. (Although Cuckoo's Nest may be better, and he screams and yells alot there.)
  31. Jun 26, 2015
    9
    Feel sorry for Mr. Gittes! That ending though. Jack Nicholson alone is entertaining and enjoyable to watch. Chinatown is a 130 minutes crime-mystery-drama which is worth watching. The movie is kinda slow and heavy but worth watching.
    What do you say? I love it.
  32. Jan 25, 2016
    10
    Per usual, i'm gonna divide my review into 5 parts i will talk about: Directing, Cinematography,Writing,Score and finally Acting.
    Directing - Is really impressive, but for me it was the weakest part of the film, even though i think this movie is a masterpiece. Roman Polanski did phenomenal job directing, and even was good at acting. The director managed to get all of the actors to be on
    Per usual, i'm gonna divide my review into 5 parts i will talk about: Directing, Cinematography,Writing,Score and finally Acting.
    Directing - Is really impressive, but for me it was the weakest part of the film, even though i think this movie is a masterpiece. Roman Polanski did phenomenal job directing, and even was good at acting. The director managed to get all of the actors to be on the same page. You could see that Polanski did put some work into directing. But on times scenes seem to be purely driven, by Nicholsons acting, and star power. All in all, still a solid directing job. I would rate it 16/20.
    Cinematography - Even considering, that the film is quite old, and cinematographers didn't have all the modern equipment, job was done to perfection. John A. Alonzo managed to achieve marvelous work. Even though the film was filmed in sunny California, you can still fill the film noir atmosphere. There were few really impressive shots which you don't come across very often nowadays. Including mirror shots, that give viewer the illusion of following someone, and the other worthy mention is shot of chase in the lemon fields. The last really adds to intensity and made me wanting for the shot to be longer. A worthy Oscar nominee. I would rate it 20/20
    Writing - An amazing story, with even more amazing characters. Story develops it self beautifully, and it seems like Gittes is always in front of the action. The story doesn't force itself on the viewer. Script paces itself perfectly although at the very end it felt a bit rushed and jumped straight to the very conclusion. I would rate it 20/20
    Score - The score was amazing. Some of the tracks hit the perfect spots and gave me the goosebumps. Textbook film noir soundtrack, that really adds up to the whole movie vibe. I would rate it 20/20
    Acting - Was phenomenal Jack Nicholson was a true powerhouse in this movie and fit the role perfectly. His acting seem effortless and charismatic. All of the actors had this mystery shroud around them. And seemed they were hiding their true intentions. Actors chemistry was very mesmerizing to watch, because it seemed like every actor was pushing not only his own performance, but the colleagues as well. Even though through out the movie extras don't get a lot of screen time, you can definetly feel their presence in the movie. I would rate it 20/20.

    All in all, this movie is a truly masterpiece, a modern jewel of film noir. Worthy of being in the study program for any film school. Finally i would rate this movie 96/100. 1712. Alameda.
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Metascore
86

Universal acclaim - based on 10 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 10
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 10
  3. Negative: 0 out of 10
  1. 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.
  2. Chicago Tribune
    Reviewed by: Gene Siskel
    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]
  3. 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.