Review

  • Set in late '30s Los Angeles this 1974 film opens with a woman, identifying herself as Evelyn Mulwray, asking private detective Jake Gettes to find out whether her husband, chief engineer of the LA Water and Power Company, is having an affair. He follows him and ultimately photographs him with another woman. Somehow these pictures end up in the papers and he is approached by another woman who it turns out is the real wife of Mulwray... and she intends to sue. He continues to investigate Mulwray and suspects some odd goings on at Water and Power... then Mulwray turns up dead; drowned during a severe drought. His continued investigation brings him closer to the real Evelyn as well as into real danger as he learns the truth about Water and Power's activities which could make some people very rich at the expense of other, poorer, people.

    This film may have been made about a quarter of a century after the classic era for film noir but it perfectly captures the feel of those films. It has morally ambiguous characters inhabiting a murky world that contrasts with the bright Los Angeles sunshine. The story has many twists and turns without feeling unnecessarily complex or confusing. The cast does a great job; especially Jack Nicholson who is in every scene so that the viewer doesn't know anything Gettes doesn't know. Faye Dunaway is solid as Evelyn Mulwray and John Huston is suitably menacing as her father; a man standing to make a lot of money with many dark secrets. Overall I'd definitely recommend this to anybody wanting a good mystery or fans of film noir.