Chinatown (1974)

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Videos & Photos

  • Clip: Of course I'm respectable, I'm old

Movie Info & Cast


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.


  • Jack Nicholson
  • Faye Dunaway
  • John Huston
  • Perry Lopez
  • John Hillerman
  • Darrell Zwerling
  • Diane Ladd
  • Roy Jenson
  • Roman Polanski
  • Richard Bakalyan

Did You Know?


  • Faye Dunaway's distinctive look was inspired by Roman Polanski's memories of his mother, who, in the pre-World War II-era, would fashionably wear penciled-on eyebrows, and have her lipstick shaped in the form of a Cupid's bow.
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  • When Mrs. Mulwray drives away from the Coroner's office, a siren is heard in the background. The siren is a modern electronic one. In the 1930s, they only had mechanical sirens, which have a different sound.
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    • Jake Gittes: So there's this guy Walsh, do you understand? He's tired of screwin' his wife... So his friend says to him, "Hey, why don't you do it like the Chinese do?" So he says, "How do the Chinese do it?" And the guy says, "Well, the Chinese, first they screw a little bit, then they stop, then they go and read a little Confucius, come back, screw a little bit more, then they stop again, go and they screw a little bit... then they go back and they screw a little bit more and then they go out and they contemplate the moon or something like that. Makes it more exciting." So now, the guy goes home and he starts screwin' his own wife, see. So he screws her for a little bit and then he stops, and he goes out of the room and reads Life Magazine. Then he goes back in, he starts screwin' again. He says, "Excuse me for a minute, honey." He goes out and he smokes a cigarette. Now his wife is gettin' sore as hell. He comes back in the room, he starts screwin' again. He gets up to start to leave again to go look at the moon. She looks at him and says, "Hey, what's the matter with ya? You're screwin' just like a Chinaman!"
    • [laughs hysterically]
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[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.

Metacritic review by Roger Ebert
Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times

Los Angeles has always been the capital city of film noir..., but few movies present a darker, bleaker view of the city than Roman Polanski's 1974 Chinatown. [17 Oct 1997, p.o]

Metacritic review by Michael Wilmington
Michael Wilmington
Chicago Tribune