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Mystery & Suspense movie directed by Roman Polanski

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A Hollywood Masterpiece

  • Dec 19, 2006
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Experiencing older Hollywood films, films made in the era when script, direction, cinematography, lighting, musical scoring and acting became melded together in an intricate but cohesive escapist adventure, is like visiting a fine art museum - masters at work creating a living work of art that time only enhances in respect.

Such is the case for Roman Polanski's 1974 film noir CHINATOWN. Robert Towne's brilliant script is the baseline for this fascinatnig story of the Los Angeles and environs of the 1930s, a time when power was wedded to corruption, greed, family secrets of aberrant stature, and manipulation of resources (here the Department of Water and Power, the police, and entrepreneurs). Using the inimitable Jack Nicholson as the smart and daring private detective who pries open a conspiracy in the family of John Huston and his daughter Faye Dunaway whose private life secret is as huge as the water stealing crimes that are at the basis of the story was a stroke of genius that has rarely been matched since. And tying all of this together with one of Jerry Goldsmith's finest musical scores and cinematography that is liquid and redolent of the wastes that were the at the core of Los Angeles' prostitution of sunlight and shadow - the desert by the sea - was part of Polanski's genius for direction.

For viewing an example of the finest in filmmaking, CHINATOWN remains at the top of the list. Grady Harp, December 06

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More Chinatown (1974) reviews
review by . July 17, 2003
posted in Movie Hype
The film's title refers to an area of Los Angeles where private investigator J.J. Gittes (Nicholson) once served as a police officer. It also suggests the difficulties of finding one's way in unfamiliar territory. Directed by Roman Polanski who received (in absentia) an Academy Award in 2003 for his direction of The Pianist, this film seems to have multiple layers of meaning and apparent meaning. Yes, it is well within the noir tradition but it also seems to reflect so much of the social discord …
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Grady Harp ()
Ranked #96
Grady Harp is a champion of Representational Art in the roles of curator, lecturer, panelist, writer of art essays, poetry, critical reviews of literature, art and music, and as a gallerist. He has presented … more
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Roman Polanski's brooding film noir exposes the darkest side of the land of sunshine, the Los Angeles of the 1930s, where power is the only currency--and the only real thing worth buying. Jack Nicholson is J.J. Gittes, a private eye in the Chandler mold, who during a routine straying-spouse investigation finds himself drawn deeper and deeper into a jigsaw puzzle of clues and corruption. The glamorous Evelyn Mulwray (a dazzling Faye Dunaway) and her titanic father, Noah Cross (John Huston), are at the black-hole center of this tale of treachery, incest, and political bribery. The crackling, hard-bitten script by Robert Towne won a well-deserved Oscar, and the muted color cinematography makes the goings-on seem both bleak and impossibly vibrant. Polanski himself has a brief, memorable cameo as the thug who tangles with Nicholson's nose. One of the greatest, most completely satisfying crime films of all time.--Anne Hurley
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