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A Master Screenplay, A Perfect Film,
This review is from: Chinatown (DVD)
Many writers consider Robert Towne's screenplay for `Chinatown' as the perfect screenplay. It is, and is also in fact the example of how important good writing is in the art of cinema. It is perfection and in the hands of Roman Polanski it became a film masterpiece. But it all goes back to the writing. Robert Towne has taken the true story of how Los Angeles stole water to grow and wound around it the fictional story of Jake Gittes, Evelyn Mulwray, and Noah Cross and made them major participants in an ugly little tale of lust and greed. Towne's screenplay is layered like a decaying Dahlia with twisting mysteries and taught suspense. There is not a loose end in sight and a few well placed red herrings are added to the mix to delight any fan of this type of story.
The attention to detail from vintage cars, sets, real L.A. streets and alleys to the excellent score by Jerry Goldsmith and the golden cinematography of John A. Alonzo contribute to all the aspects of this classic of the post 60's film noir.
Faye Dunaway as Evelyn Mulwray is at the top of her game creating a neurotic exotic hothouse flower that carries death within the heart of her dark and dirty secret. Lacquered and veiled in the most perfect black widow getup of the genre she is superbly brittle and vulnerable at the same time. She is fascinating to watch as she slowly unravels along with the mystery until she is naked in the horror of what her past and present prison is. This is a great performance by a great artist.
As Evelyn's father Noah Cross, John Huston is the debauched cancerous center of evil and greed captured within the crumbling casing of a seemingly charming old man. He too gives the performance of a lifetime and his soliloquy on what a man is capable of is chilling.
The center of this masterwork is Jack Nicholson who became a star with this, the best of his early work. His J. J. Gittes is hardboiled and ruthless in getting to the bottom of why he is being used to take the fall for a murder. He embodies the soul of Bogart and the heart of a romantic fighting to stay tuff in a rotten world. He is drawn with such skill that he seems not to be acting but simply existing the real world of L.A. in the late 1930's.
"Chinatown" is seminal in its place in film history. It bridged and old and forgotten genre with a new Hollywood in its post studio infancy and laid the groundwork for later films of equal ambition such as "Mullholland Falls" and "L.A. Confidential".
This is one of the best film ever made and a must have for any serious film collector.