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36 Chinatown 1974 
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Post 36 Chinatown 1974
From Bob Harris on the cinematic journey

Chinatown-"She's my daughter, she's my sister". Jack Nicholson in one of his most famous and defining roles, Jake Gittes PI. I cannot emphasize how nice it was to discover Jack the way he was meant to be...a solid sometimes even understated actor providing depth and emotion to a character. I have the unfortunate experience of growing up with Jack as the Joker, Jack the Famous Lakers fan, and in other films where he hams it up so damn annoyingly(I have posted here previously about how much I hate him in the otherwise excellent The Departed). Don't get me wrong, I am old enough to have explored him in other roles, I just never had much desire to do so.

Finally I got around to this noir masterpiece and finally I found out that Jack can act, and act extremely well when he chooses to do so rather than scream and play an amped up version of his character in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Anyway, back to this film. Here we find Gittes wrapped up in a twisting plot involving the death of prominent city official. The twists and turns the film takes are classic noir and the deceased's widow, Faye Dunaway, is every bit the type of dame you cannot trust in these films. Nothing is exactly as it seems and Gittes is determined to find the truth and yet is compelled to help Dunaway.

The plot itself involving the water department is about as unsexy as you can come up with and yet with the solid acting and direction(by Nicholson friend and ex-pat Roman Polanski who turns up slicing his nose) we don't care so much what the motivation was for the murder but rather all the machinations in covering it up itself. Solid film with better than that from it's actors. 9/10


Tue Jul 21, 2009 10:14 am
Post Re: 36 Chinatown 1974
So this was #2 in my personal journey...it started with Rashomon.

I tell you what. After these first 2 movies, I've figured that the so-called "Great Movies" are not usually you're happy-ending, all-rolled-up-in-a-nice-little-package type. Some, like this one, are effing brutal.

To be completely honest, I started watching this movies 3 times, then fell asleep. It was a Friday or Saturday night after a long day, and I put on this DVD. Bad idea. But then after I got past about the 30 minute mark awake, I was entranced. I needed to find out what the hell was going on.

What's to cover up?

Did she murder him?

Or did he kill himself?

She's my daughter, she's my sister? Oh...WTF?!

What is it about Jack that she finds sexy?

Anyways...I'm still thinking about how this thing ended, and damn...it might have turned out better if she didn't keep anything from the private investigator. But that's not the point. I guess...

My next movie would be Night of the Hunter.


Sat Sep 12, 2009 1:47 am
Post Re: 36 Chinatown 1974
You just have to love Roman Polanski's cameo in this movie. I think it's the way he says kitty cat.

You're a very nosy fellow, kitty cat. Huh? You know what happens to nosy fellows? Huh? No? Wanna guess? Huh? No? Okay. They lose their noses.


Sun Sep 13, 2009 8:39 pm
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