Watching Chinatown again recently, it struck me that it is just about perfect. All the elements of film-making were performed here at an extraordinarily high level, and the result is one of the most satisfying movies...EVER!
Chinatown is THE standard against which period mysteries must be measured.
Start with the wonderful script by Robert Towne. His plot, characters and dialogue entertain and intrigue us and the film's brilliant central metaphor, Chinatown, reveals, conceals and resonates long after the credits roll.
Next, people the story with a terrific cast led by Jack Nicholson, who despite his worldliness is in way-over-his-head without knowing it. Faye Dunaway as the fragile femme fatale, Evelyn Mulwray, and John Huston as one of the most memorable villains in moviedom as the rich & powerful, ruthless yet seemingly benign, Noah Cross.
Brilliant director with an equally gifted cinematographer, Roman Polanski was an inspired choice to direct this film. Polanski is adept at creating tension and dread on film. Chinatown's great success is in the atmosphere and tension and ominous feel of foreboding that overlays the film. Chinatown succeeds because its mystery is actually mysterious, its story complex, its secrets genuinely surprising.
Chinatown is beautiful and meticulous. And the music score is so good that it has been imitated MANY times in Chinatown wannabes. Chinatown is about as good as Hollywood can do, meeting both entertainment and craftsmanship of filmmaking at such a high standard that it raises the result to the level of art.
Chinatown is a brilliantly unique story and a masterpiece we all have recognized from its initial release. A timeless film that should not be missed. A GREAT film!
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