As you may recall, I’ve been searching for the greatest films ever made recently. My search brought me across this wonderful offering by director extraordinaire Roman Polanski (Rosemary’s Baby, Repulsion, Knife in the Water), paired with Jack Nicholson (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Shining), the script of Robert Towne and the production of Robert Evans made for an exquisite film. Towne’s Oscar winning script includes one of the most iconic proclamations towards the end by the female protagonist (Faye Dunaway), but I won’t spoil this for you!
Actor Jack Nicholson, director Roman Polanski, writer Robert Towne, producer Robert Evans: four friends, four gifted individuals, men of substance and substance abuse. Early ’70s Hollywood belonged to these people and their kind. They were given relatively large budgets, and a fair amount of artistic freedom, and told to go and make movies. Empire
Chinatown tells the tale of a private eye supposedly engaged to discover whether the head of the Los Angeles Water Board is having an affair by his wife. It is discovered quickly that all is not what it seems. Empire describes this film as a “never bettered noir masterpiece” and one can see why. There is refinement to a genre which has been explored many times, including a constant and notable cynicism, perhaps on account of the Nixon presidency ending in 1974, the year the film was made. This provides a strong undercurrent to the shady actions of the police officers. I kept asking myself, what on earth does Chinatown have to do with this film? It was not until the final line in the film that I understood. Chinatown has everything to do with this film.
Alongside Nicholson, Chinatown features career-best performances from Faye Dunaway – who notoriously clashed on set with director Polanski – and legendary film-maker John Huston, who played sinister landowner Noah Cross. Polanski himself had a cameo as a stiletto-wielding hoodlum who slices Nicholson’s nose open. The Guardian
An exquisite triumph of film making, considered the best film ever made by the Guardian. I do not agree with this, Yasujirō Ozu’s Tokyo Story is probably the greatest film ever made in my opinion. Subjectivity is one of the greatest joys of taste. In President Biden’s words, “you can disagree with me, and that’s fine”.