AFI Catalog of Feature Films
Movie Detail
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Director: Roman Polanski (Dir)
Release Date:   Jul 1974
Premiere Information:   Los Angeles and New York openings: 21 Jun 1974
Production Date:   15 Oct 1973--mid-Jan 1974
Duration (in mins):   129-132
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Cast:   Jack Nicholson (J. J. [Jake] Gittes)  
    Faye Dunaway (Evelyn Mulwray)  
    John Huston (Noah Cross)  
    Perry Lopez ([Lt. Lou] Escobar)  
    John Hillerman ([Russ] Yelburton)  
    Darrell Zwerling (Hollis Mulwray)  
    Diane Ladd (Ida Sessions [Phony Mrs. Mulwray])  
    Roy Jenson ([Claude] Mulvihill)  
    Roman Polanski (Man with knife)  
    Dick Bakalyan (Loach)  
    Joe Mantell (Walsh)  
    Bruce Glover (Duffy )  
    Nandu Hinds (Sophie)  
    James O'Reare (Lawyer)  
    James Hong ([Kahn] Evelyn's butler)  
    Beulah Quo (Maid)  
    Jerry Fujikawa (Gardener)  
    Belinda Palmer (Katherine)  
    Roy Roberts (Mayor Bagby)  
    Noble Willingham (Councilman)  
    Elliott Montgomery (Councilman)  
    Rance Howard (Irate farmer)  
    George Justin (Barber)  
    Doc Erickson (Customer)  
    Fritzi Burr (Mulwray's secretary)  
    Charles Knapp (Mortician)  
    Claudio Martinez (Boy on horseback)  
    Federico Roberto (Cross' butler)  
    Allan Warnick (Clerk)  
  Farmers in the Valley: John Holland    
    Jesse Vint    
    Jim Burk    
  [And] Denny Arnold    
    Burt Young (Curly)  
    Elizabeth Harding (Curly's wife)  
    John Rogers (Mr. Palmer)  
    Cecil Elliott (Emma Dill)  
    Paul Jenkins (Policeman)  
    Lee De Broux (Policeman)  
    Bob Golden (Policeman)  

Summary: In 1937 Los Angeles, private detective J. J. "Jake" Gittes, who specializes in adultery cases, is hired by the well-dressed Mrs. Evelyn Mulwray to follow her husband Hollis, chief engineer for the Department of Water and Power. Jake later sits in on a city council meeting, where Mayor Bagby offers his support for a new dam that will guarantee an adequate water supply for the city. After Hollis emotionally speaks out condemning the project as unsafe, Jake follows him as he inspects the dry Los Angeles riverbed under the Hollenbeck Bridge, then goes out to Point Fermin, where thousands of gallons of water rush through a drainage pipe out into the sea that night. A few days later, Jake and his associate, Duffy, photographs Hollis rowing a pretty young blonde woman around Echo Park Lake. Jake then follows the couple to the El Macando courtyard apartments, where he secretly takes pictures of the girl embracing Hollis. The next day, one of Jake's photographs is printed on the front page of the newspaper, accompanied by a story about Hollis' "love nest." When Jake arrives at his office, he is stunned to learn that the woman claiming to be Mrs. Mulwray was an imposter, and the real Evelyn, who has come to the office, intends to sue him. Angry that he has been duped, Jake finesses his way into Hollis' office, but finds no compromising information, only a handwritten notation reading "Oak Pass Reservoir, Tuesday, 2:00 pm." His search is interrupted by Hollis' underling, Russ Yelburton, who assures him that Hollis is not the sort of man to have an affair, then escorts Jake out. Jake then goes to Hollis' estate to speak with him directly. Evelyn says that she will not pursue her lawsuit, then suggests that Hollis might be at the Oak Pass reservoir. Jake then drives there and encounters Lt. Lou Escobar, an old rival from his days on the police force in Chinatown, and sees Hollis' dead body being pulled from the water. Evelyn later identifies Hollis at the morgue and refutes Escobar's suggestion that her husband committed suicide, claiming that they were trying to work out their problems over his affair. Outside, Jake tries to convince Evelyn that Hollis was murdered, but she insists that it was an accident. After she leaves, Jake goes back inside to look around and is puzzled when a medical examiner casually tells him that one of the bodies in the morgue was a homeless man who drowned under the Hollenbeck Bridge. Knowing that there should not have been enough water there to drown someone, Jake revisits the bridge. After finding only a small pool of water in the gravelly land below, Jake speaks with a boy on horseback and learns that water rushes through at night. When Jake returns to walk around the Oak Park Reservoir that evening, he hears a gunshot, then a rush of water, which quickly envelopes him. After making his way out of the torrent, he is stopped by a short man in a white suit, accompanied by Claude Mulvihill, a cheap detective whom Jake detests. The short man puts a knife into Jake's left nostril, then suddenly cuts through it, warning Jake that next time he will lose his entire nose. At the office the next day, as Duffy and Jake’s other associate, Walsh, try to talk him out of pursuing the Mulwray case, he receives a phone call from a woman named Ida Sessions, who reveals that she was hired to impersonate Mrs. Mulwray but had no idea that anyone would be killed. Because she is frightened, she will not reveal anything more, but tells him to look in the obituary column. Later, Jake goes back to see Yelburton, and while he is waiting, notices several pictures on the walls of Hollis with Noah Cross, the man whom Walsh had photographed a few days before having a heated argument with Hollis outside the Pig 'n Whistle restaurant. Yelburton's secretary tells him that Cross and Hollis owned the water company in partnership, but Hollis thought that water should belong to the people and gave the company to the city. When he speaks with Yelburton, Jake alludes to knowing more than he does, saying that Hollis’ murder is tied to the new dam and the deliberate dumping of thousands of gallons of water during a drought. After Yelburton sheepishly admits that some water has been diverted quietly to the northwest San Fernando Valley, Jake proffers that he is not after him, but those behind him. Returning to his office, Jake is visited by Evelyn, who wants to hire him to investigate Hollis' murder. Some time later, Jake goes to Catalina Island to the Albacore Club to see Cross, whom he has learned is Evelyn’s father. Implying that he does not want his vulnerable daughter to be taken advantage of, but also indicating that he feels sorry for the girl Hollis was seeing, Cross offers to double what Evelyn is paying if Jake finds the girl. Jake catches Cross in a lie when he says that he had not spoken to Hollis in years, but Cross brushes aside Jake’s revelation that they had been photographed together. Some time later, Jake goes to the Hall of Records, where he discovers that thousands of acres of farm land in the Valley recently have been sold. Armed with a list of the purchases he has torn from the record books, Jake drives to the Valley but finds himself chased by a family of angry farmers who think he works for the water company. Just before Jake is knocked out by one of the younger farmers, the father snarls that the city has attacked their wells to force them to sell their land cheap. When Jake wakes up, Evelyn is with him, summoned by the father, who found her card in Jake’s pocket. As they drive back into town, Jake tells her that the proposed dam is a fraud because the water will be going to unincorporated areas of the Valley instead of the city of Los Angeles. He also tells her about the recent land sales at bargain prices. As Evelyn comments on the old-fashioned names of the buyers, Jake suddenly remembers that one of them, Jaspar Lamar Crabb, who was listed in the obituary column Ida Sessions suggested he look at, had died a week before his deed was recorded. Because Crabb had lived at the Mar Vista Rest Home, Jake suggests they drive there. Pretending that they are looking for a home for his father, they ask to look around. Jake recognizes the names of many of the residents as the same as those on the newly recorded deeds, but when he speaks with one of the residents, Emma Dills, who is making a quilt with an emblem for the Albacore Club, she knows nothing about any property in the Valley. The home’s manager, now joined by Claude, then orders them to leave. Outside, Jake sees the man in the white suit approaching and, with Evelyn’s quick driving, is able to escape. Later, at Evelyn’s house, the two make love. After Evelyn receives a phone call, she tells him that she must leave, but first confides that her father owns the Albacore Club. When Jake then reveals that he had met her father there, she becomes unsettled and warns him that her father is dangerous. Suspicious of the phone call, Jake follows Evelyn to a house on Canyon Drive where he peeks through the window and sees the young blonde woman crying, apparently struggling with Evelyn and her Chinese butler, Kahn. When Evelyn gets into her car, she is startled by Jake, who assumes that the girl is being held against her will and coldly threatens to call the police. Evelyn then says that the girl is her sister and implies that she condoned Hollis' affair because she wanted him to be happy. Finally back at his house, Jake receives two anonymous calls from a man who says that Ida Sessions wants to see him. The next morning, Jake arrives at Sessions’ house, where he discovers her dead body, then is surprised by Escobar and his partner, Loach. Escobar guesses that Ida had initially hired Jake but assumes that Evelyn killed her husband and is being blackmailed by Jake. Escobar also reveals that the autopsy on Hollis showed that he had drowned in salt water, not the reservoir’s fresh water. After Jake tries to convince Escobar that there has been a plot to divert water and that Hollis was murdered because of it, Escobar gives him two hours to find Evelyn and bring her in to the police. Jake then goes to Evelyn’s house, but only finds the maid. He then goes outside and gazes at the pond, which the gardener complains is filled with salt water. Remembering that he had seen something shiny in the pond the first time he visited, Jake and the gardener retrieve a broken pair of gold-rimmed glasses. Jake then drives to the Canyon Drive house and gruffly asks Evelyn if the glasses belonged to Hollis. After she acknowledges that they look like his, Jake calls Escobar and tells him to come over. Evelyn is confused by Jake’s actions, prompting him to demand that she tell him about the girl, suggesting that she killed Hollis out of jealousy and shouting that he knows that she does not have a sister. As Jake angrily starts to slap her, Evelyn finally breaks down and screams "she's my sister and my daughter." She then explains to the stunned Jake that she became pregnant at age fifteen after her father raped her, then went to Mexico, where Hollis took care of her and continued to take care of both her and the girl, who is named Katherine. Now Jake tells her to find a place to go, and Evelyn suggests Kahn's house in Chinatown. Before leaving, Evelyn glances again at the eyeglasses and mentions that they could not have belonged to Hollis because he did not wear bifocals. A short time after Evelyn drives away with Katherine, Escobar and Loach arrive. Jake lies that Evelyn has gone to her maid's house in San Pedro and offers to give them the address, but Escobar insists that Jake come along. When they arrive in the San Pedro, Escobar reluctantly acquiesces to Jake’s request for a few minutes alone with Evelyn. The house actually belongs to Curly, a man who had hired Jake to follow his cheating wife. Once inside, Jake asks Curly to take him for a ride in his truck, and while Jake hides from sight, offers to forgive his bill and pay him $100 if he will take Evelyn and Katherine to Ensenada in his boat. Later, outside Evelyn’s house, Jake loads Curly's truck with her suitcases, then calls Cross to tell him that he has found the girl and he should bring his checkbook to Evelyn’s house. When Cross arrives, Jake confronts him about murdering Hollis and raping Evelyn. Although Cross genuinely admired Hollis for "making this town," he admits to murdering him so that water could be brought to the Valley. He also said it was not for the money, which he did not need, but for the future, explaining that once water is in the Valley, the land will be incorporated into the city. With Loach as his henchman, Cross forces Jake to take them to Katherine. When Cross, Jake and Loach arrive on Chinatown’s Alameda Street a short time later, they are approached by Escobar and his men, who start to handcuff Jake. Happy to be taken out of danger, Jake blurts out that Cross killed Hollis. During the confusion of conflicting stories, Evelyn and Katherine approach Evelyn's car. When Cross tries to introduce himself to Katherine as her grandfather, Evelyn draws a gun and warns that he will never have her. After shooting Cross in the arm, she drives off, ignoring Escobar’s order that she stop. When she continues driving down the street, Escobar and his men shoot at the car until it stops. Hearing the sound of the car’s blaring horn in the distance, Jake, Escobar, Cross and the others rush to it and find Katherine covered in blood, screaming next to Evelyn’s dead body. Cross pulls Katherine away, shielding her eyes, as Jake stares at Evelyn’s body. When he directs a crack at Escobar, Escobar screams at Walsh and Duffy to do Jake a favor and take him away. As Jake is being pulled away by his friends, Walsh tries to comfort him saying, “Forget it, Jake, it’s Chinatown.” 

Production Company: Long Road Productions, Inc.  
Production Text: A Robert Evans production of a Roman Polanski film
Distribution Company: Paramount Pictures Corp. (Gulf & Western Industries, Inc.)
Director: Roman Polanski (Dir)
  Howard W. Koch, Jr. (Asst dir)
  Michele Ader (2d asst dir)
Producer: Robert Evans (Prod)
  C. O. Erickson (Assoc prod)
Writer: Robert Towne (Wrt)
Photography: John A. Alonzo (Dir of photog)
  Stanley Cortez (Dir of photog)
  Hugh Gagnier (Cam op)
  Arnold Rich (Cam op)
  Lance Williams (1st asst cam)
  Robert Barber (2d asst cam)
  Earl Gilbert (Gaffer)
  Bernie Schwartz (Key grip)
  Richard Borland (Key grip)
  Kenneth Johnston (Best boy grip)
  Kenneth Borland (Dolly grip)
  Edward Borland (Grip)
  Cecil Lupton (Best boy elec)
  Orlando Suero (Stills)
Art Direction: Richard Sylbert (Prod des)
  W. Stewart Campbell (Art dir)
  Joseph Hurley (Prod illustrator)
Film Editor: Sam O'Steen (Film ed)
  Flo Williamson (Asst ed)
  John Stagnitta (Apprentice ed)
Set Decoration: Gabe Resh (Set des)
  Robert Resh (Set des)
  Ruby Levitt (Set dec)
  Bill Mac Sems (Prop master)
  Terry Lewis (Prop asst)
  Dan Bentley (Leadman)
  Walter Allen Rentals (Greensman)
  Bill Parks (Const coord)
  Tom Bartholomew (Standby painter)
Costumes: Anthea Sylbert (Cost des)
  Richard Bruno (Ward)
  Jean Merrick (Ward)
  The Family Jewels (Jewels by)
Music: Jerry Goldsmith (Mus)
  John C. Hammell (Mus ed)
Sound: Larry Jost (Sd mixer)
  Bud Grenzbach (Re-rec)
  Robert Cornett (Sd ed)
  Clint Althaus (Boom man)
  James Pilcher (Cable man)
Special Effects: Logan Frazee (Spec eff)
  Wayne Fitzgerald (Titles)
Make Up: Hank Edds (Makeup)
  Lee Harmon (Makeup)
  Susan Germaine (Hairstylist)
  Vivienne Walker (Hairstylist)
Production Misc: C. O. Erickson (Unit prod mgr)
  May Wale Brown (Scr supv)
  Gary Chazan (Asst to the prod)
  Mike Fenton (Casting)
  Jane Feinberg (Casting)
  Freedom Service Company (Prod services furnished by)
  Saul Kahan (Unit pub)
  Rosalyn Catania (Prod secy)
  Linda Richman (Prod's secy)
  Barbara Kalish (Prod's secy)
  Thelma Roberts (Dir's secy)
  Ellen Garvey (Prod asst)
  Justion Buehrlen (Auditor)
  Sol Berlin (Generator op)
  Rolly Harper Catering (Caterer)
  Ronald Weber (Craft service)
  Ribello Mastroianni (Transportation capt)
  Robert Clarke (Transportation co-capt)
  Ralph McCutcheon (Wrangler)
MPAA Rating: R
Country: United States
Language: English

Music: "Easy Living" by Leo Robin and Ralph Rainger; "The Way You Look Tonight" by Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields; "Some Day" and "The Vagabond King Waltz" by Brian Hooker and Rudolf Friml.
Songs: "I Can't Get Started with You" music and lyrics by Ira Gershwin and Vernon Duke, as recorded by Bunny Berigan and His Orchestra (Courtesy of RCA Records).
Composer: Vernon Duke
  Dorothy Fields
  Rudolf Friml
  Ira Gershwin
  Brian Hooker
  Jerome Kern
  Ralph Rainger
  Leo Robin
Source Text:

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Long Road Productions, Inc. 20/6/1974 dd/mm/yyyy LP43628

PCA NO: 23916
Physical Properties: Sd:
  col: Technicolor
  Widescreen/ratio: Panavision

Genre: Mystery
Sub-Genre: Historical
Subjects (Major): Fathers and daughters
  Los Angeles (CA)
  Private detectives
Subjects (Minor): Butlers
  Knife wounds
  Los Angeles (CA)--Chinatown
  Los Angeles (CA)--Echo Park
  Mothers and daughters
  Retirement homes
  San Fernando Valley (CA)
  San Pedro (CA)
  Santa Catalina Island (CA)
  Yachts and yachting

Note: Chinatown was the first film personally produced by Paramount studio production head Robert Evans, and marked the first time that he received an onscreen producer credit. Actor-stuntman Jim Burk's surname was erroneously spelled "Burke" in the cast credits at the end of the film. Although the surname of character "Jake Gittes" (Jack Nicholson) is pronounced as two syllables throughout the film, during his two meetings with "Noah Cross" (John Huston), Cross repeatedly mispronounces the name as one syllable.
       Many film historians have commented on the picture's title, which suggests more of a connection to Los Angeles' Chinatown than existed in the story. Only the film's final sequence is set in Chinatown, where the picture's iconic line of dialogue, "Forget it, Jake, it's Chinatown," was spoken by "Walsh" (Joe Mantell). However, throughout the film there are several oblique references to Jake's past as a policeman working for the District Attorney in Chinatown and a tragedy that occurred. The subject is given some explanation by Jake himself when he tells "Evelyn Mulwray" (Faye Dunaway), that he tried to prevent someone from being hurt, but ultimately caused her to be hurt. Later, when Jake asks "Lt. Lou Escobar" (Perry Lopez) to let him speak with Evelyn privately before she is arrested, Escobar, alluding to what happened years ago in Chinatown, says "You never learn, do you Jake."
       Early HR production charts list the film's director of photography as Stanley Cortez, but only John A. Alonzo is credited onscreen. According to director Roman Polanski, when speaking at a 1974 seminar at AFI's Center for Advanced Film Studies, as production started on Chinatown , he felt that the work of veteran cameraman Cortez did not match his own vision for the film. Polanski then replaced Cortez with Alonzo, who completed the picture. The offscreen camera crew credits included above were listed in a 26 Oct 1973 HR "Film Assignments" column, which also listed Cortez as the director of photography. It is possible that some of those camera crew members left the production when Cortez departed.
       In a letter to the editor in LAT in Apr 1974, Alonzo wrote that he replaced Cortez "during the first week's shooting schedule," while an editor's note added to an article by Alonzo in AmCin in May 1975, reported that Cortez left "after having completed the photography on approximately sixteen sequences of the feature during its first weeks of production." In an interview with GQ in Feb 1984, Polanski stated that Cortez was told he was being replaced "on the tenth day of shooting." An on-set photograph in the AmCin article confirms that Cortez shot the Echo Park Lake and the "El Macando Apartments" sequences, but the extent of other footage he shot that were retained in the released film is undetermined.
       Many contemporary and modern sources have indicated that Chinatown was shot entirely on location, but in the AmCin article, Alonzo confirmed that many interiors were shot at Paramount, writing that "approximately 65%" of the total footage "was shot on sets built inside Paramount sound stages." Among the principal locations verified from contemporary sources were Echo Park, downtown Los Angeles, The Olympic Blvd. Bridge (which stood in for The Hollenbeck Bridge), The Avalon Yacht Club on Santa Catalina Island, Point Fermin and other areas in San Pedro, The Mojave Desert, San Bernadino, Silverlake and Hollywood. Many of the period locations, which date back to the 1920s and 1930s, remain intact as of 2009. The Chinatown sequence, which in the story is supposed to take place on Alameda Street, was actually shot on the less commercial Ord Street. According to various contemporary sources, modern street lights were turned off and period facades were placed over existing buildings to heighten its 1930s look.
       The Pig 'n Whistle restaurant, which is only seen in a photograph, but mentioned as the site where "Hollis Mulwray" and Cross had an argument, was a restaurant on Hollywood Blvd., adjacent to the famed Egyptian Theatre. After opening in 1927, the Pig 'n Whistle was a popular Hollywood hangout from the late 1920s through 1949. According to a 1988 article on the film's locations, the Pacific Dining Car restaurant stood in for the Pig 'n Whistle.
       In an interview given to LAT at the time of a 30th anniversary screening of Chinatown at AMPAS' Samuel Goldwyn Theatre, screenwriter Robert Towne recounted that he wrote the script for Nicholson while waiting for The Last Detail (see entry below), another script he wrote for Nicholson, to go into production. Towne also stated in the interview that he was inspired to write Chinatown because of two events that happened around the same time: his unsuccessful attempt to "fight city hall" by stopping a housing development in the Benedict Canyon area of Los Angeles and his reading of the 1970 non-fiction book Southern California Country . The book, by noted California historian Carey McWilliams, included a chapter on the Owens Valley Aqueduct that brought water to Los Angeles.
       Although Gittes is a completely fictional character, Mulwray was, according to many reviews and other contemporary sources, loosely based on William Mulholland (1855--1935), who became head of the Department of Water and Power in Los Angeles in the late 1880s. Mulholland, who was instrumental in bringing water from the Owens River Valley to Los Angeles, left the department in disgrace in 1928, shortly after the collapse of the St. Francis Dam in Mar 1928. That disaster, which is alluded to when Mulwray refers to the disasterous mistakes of the "Vanderlip Dam," resulted in the loss of almost 500 lives.
       The plot point within the film that bringing water to the San Fernando Valley would lead to its annexation by the city of Los Angeles is anachronistic. By 1937, when the story of Chinatown takes place, most of the San Fernando Valley had already been incorporated into the city through several annexations in the 1910s and 1920s. References are made in the film to the dry Los Angeles River which, in past centuries was an alluvial river that periodically flooded the Los Angeles basin and eventually was directed into the flood control system that is still in existence.
       As stated in the film, there was a serious drought in Southern California in the mid-1930s, which lasted until late 1937. In Mar 1938, the area experienced what was termed a "fifty year flood" that effectively broke the drought. Bolstering its prominent theme of Los Angeles' need for water, within the films there are numerous references to different types of water. For example, when Jake first goes to the Mulwray house, the camera lingers on the backyard pond and waterfall as a Japanese gardener tends to it. Later, when Jake discovers a pair of broken glasses in the pond, it leads to his eventually solving Mulwray's murder.
       According to a LAHExam article on 20 Jul 1974, members of an organization called Asian Americans for Fair Media marched in front of Mann's Chinese Theatre, where the film opened in Los Angeles, to protest the film. Representatives of the group singled out racist comments, and in particular a joke about "a Chinaman" that Jakes laughingly relates just before meeting the real Evelyn.
       Chinatown was the second and final American film directed by the Polish-born Polanski, who appears in the picture as the man wearing a white suit and bowtie who cuts Jake's nose. Polanski's previous U.S.-based film was the highly successful Rosemary's Baby (1968, see below). On 9 Aug 1969, Polanski's personal life was struck by tragedy when his pregnant wife, actress Sharon Tate, become one of the victims of the infamous Tate-LaBianca murders by followers of cult leader Charles Manson. For additional information on the murders, consult the entries below for The Other Side of Madness (1971) and Manson (1973).
       After Tate's murder, Polanski made The Tragedy of Macbeth (1971, see below) and Che? (1972) in Europe before returning to the U.S. to work on Chinatown , which was the first film he directed that he neither wrote nor co-wrote. Following Chinatown , Polanski's next film was The Tenant (1976), which also was shot in Europe. In 1977, while staying at the Los Angeles home that Nicholson shared with actress Anjelica Huston, Polanski was charged with statutory rape of a thirteen-year-old girl. He eventually pled guilty to the lesser charge of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, but on 1 Feb 1978, while awaiting sentencing in the highly publicised and controversial case, Polanski left the U.S. to live in Europe.
       Friends and lawyers of Polanski attempted to reach an agreement with American authorities for many years, most prominently in the time period surrounding his nomination and subsequent win of an Academy Award for Best Director for the 2002 film The Pianist . Events surrounding the rape charge, Polanski's flight from the U.S. and attempts to close the case, were the subject of the 2008 documentary Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired .
       On 26 Sep 2009, Polanski was arrested by Swiss authorities when he arrived in Zurich to attend the Zurich Film Festival, where he was to be given a tribute. According to numerous news reports in Sep and Oct 2009, Polanski maintains a second home in Switzerland and has visited many times over the years. Polanski's supporters, particularly within the film community on both sides of the Atlantic, expressed outrage that the Swiss authorities chose that time to honor an extradition treaty with the U.S. Polanski later was allowed to leave confinement and move to monitored house arrest in his Swiss home. On 12 Jul 2010, Swiss authorities officially denied the U.S. request for extradition, citing technical issues with the case, and Polanski was free to leave his home.
       Critics had high praise for Chinatown , citing not only the direction, screenplay and acting, but also Richard Sylbert's art direction and Anthea Sylbert's period costumes. Dunaway's costumes and 1930s look received particular attention in fashion magazines, such as W , which devoted a 28 Dec 1973 multipage feature to her clothes. According to studio publicity notes, the production used sixty-five vintage cars, highlighted by Evelyn's cream-colored Packard convertible. The overall look of the film, according to several contemporary articles, began with Evans, who wanted the picture to emulate a classic Hollywood film noir . The original key art for Chinatown , highlighted that image, depicting a stylized drawing of Nicholson wearing a pinstripe suit and fedora, smoking a cigarette with smoke that floats up to a sketch of Dunaway.
       Several critics pointed out that Jake was a classic Hollywood detective in the tradition of "Philip Marlowe" and "Sam Spade," although more financially successful and better dressed. One aspect of Gittes that differed from traditional Hollywood detectives, and was written about by many critics, was that, following the knife attack, the character's nose is completely covered by a large bandage for several scenes, after which his nose remains partially obscured by heavy stitches. As noted in reviews, audiences were shocked by the sudden violence of the nose-cutting scene and, according to Polanski in the GQ interview, he and Nicholson had received more questions about it over the years than any other aspect of the film.
       Chinatown received one Academy Award, which went to Towne for Best Original Screenplay. The picture also received additional Academy Award nominations in the following categories: Actor (Nicholson), Actress (Dunaway), Art Direction, Cinematography, Costume design, Directing, Film editing, Music--Original Dramatic Score, Sound and Best Picture. Although the picture was a success at the box office and critically well received, most of the major Academy Awards that year went to The Godfather Part II (see entry below).
       Critical appraisal of Chinatown has remained strong through the years. It has been on numerous "best films" lists, and in 1991, was selected by the National Film Preservation Board to be included in the National Film Resistry. The picture was ranked 21st on AFI's 2007 100 Years…100 Movies--10th Anniversary Edition list of the greatest American films, moving down from the 19th position it held on AFI's 1997 list.
       Jerry Goldsmith's score, highlighted by its haunting trumpet solo, has been celebrated by both contemporary and modern critics as one of the best, most recognizable film scores of all time, and frequently has been included in concert repertoires devoted to film music. In the 1984 GQ interview, Polanski mentioned that he initially had mixed music by classical composer Phillip Lambro "for one scene." Polanski added that Evans had insisted Goldsmith be brought onto the project to compose a new score after a preview of the film with Lambro's music proved unsuccessful. At a 1995 Los Angeles Film Critics Critic's Choice program in honor of Chinatown , Goldsmith, Towne and others revealed that time constrictions forced Goldsmith to finish the score in eight to ten days.
       At the 1995 event, Towne discussed the ending of the picture, which was changed by Polanski from Towne's original screenplay. As described in a 24 Apr 1995 HR article on the event, Towne's script ended with a drought-breaking rainstorm, during which Evelyn kills her father and is allowed to be with her daughter. In addition to "Forget it, Jake, it's Chinatown," another line of the film's dialogue that has become famous is "She's my daughter. She's my sister...She's my sister and my daughter," spoken by Dunaway when it is finally revealed that "Katherine" (Belinda Palmer), is her daughter, born after Evelyn was raped by her father.
       For many years after Chinatown , there were attempts by Nicholson, Towne and Evans to follow-up the story with a sequel. The result was finally released in 1990 as The Two Jakes , co-produced by Nicholson, Evans and several others. That film picked up the story of Jake Gittes in 1948. Because Polanski was by then in exile in Europe, he could not work on the picture, which was directed by Nicholson and written by Towne. In addition to Nicholson, actors Mantell, Lopez and James Hong reprised their roles from Chinatown . Although a third film had been intended to complete a Los Angeles trilogy, the critical and box office failure of The Two Jakes effectively killed the final project. 

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New Republic   20 Jul 1974   p. 16.
New York Times   21 Jun 1974.   
New York Times   11 Aug 1974   Section II, p. 11.
New York Times   1 Sep 1974   Section II, p. 9.
New York Times   20 Oct 1974   Section II, p. 1.
New Yorker   1 Jul 1974   p. 70.
Newsweek   1 Jul 1974   p. 44.
Newsweek   14 Oct 1974.   
Time   1 Jul 1974   p. 42.
Variety   19 Jun 1974   p. 16.
W   28 Dec 1973.   

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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