Kaycee’s Klasic Films – Chinatown

Siobhan Kennedy-Clarke’s classic film reviews
Our fictitious reviewer Siobhan (KayCee) didn't have much of an education but she's passionate about films

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Chinatown is whats known as film noir that’s pronounced nwar its French for black and I think its called that because there is always a dark atmosphere not visual but dark mood you know nothing good ever happens. There was a lot of it around before my time stuff like Humphrey Bogart playing private detectives that get beaten up and stuff.

So Chinatown (made in 1974) was a bit after that but done in the same style and they set it in the old days I’m not sure what decade but old fashioned cars and suits with flappy trousers and everybody wore hats you know. Often in these things the story is just an excuse to see the leading actors (watching Jack Nicholson being cool and Faye Dunaway being sexy) and what actually happens don’t really matter. In this case its about California when there was a water shortage and of course people being killed.

They usually start with a beautiful woman hiring the P.I. to investigate something and it turns out to be not as straightforward as it looks. Sure enough Evelyn Mulwray (Faye) turns up and asks Jake Gittes (Jack) to tail her husband. But later another woman also claiming to be Evelyn turns up and says she’s going to sue him. And the husband is found drowned.

It all gets complicated but if your me you just enjoy Jack and Faye and leave the eggheads to follow the plot. There is stuff about he was found in a fresh water reservoir but he had salt water in his lungs things like that. There’s missing glasses too that are important.

Jake gets his nose slashed with a knife up both nostrils and spends most of the film with a big bandage over it which isn’t a good look but he’s still Jack Nicholson so he’s still attractive.

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And there’s lots of peace and quiet in the film which makes a change you don’t want bang crash all the time do you well I don’t it’s all noise these days I suppose that’s why I like old stuff sometimes.

Funny enough I was looking at an old films channel the other day and there was a Bob Hope film where he plays the same  except he’s just pretending to be a private detective cos the real one is in the next office but he’s out of town and Dorothy Lamour gets him involved. That one’s a spoof which means it kind of takes the mickey and Bob was a comedian so he does it real well.

“Was it a legitimate business?”

“Better than legitimate, it was profitable.”

You know how clever those guys were. That was called My Favourite Brunette.

But I’m confusing you now – I’m confused myself but that don’t take much haha. Chinatown has a great atmosphere and some good lines and it has brilliant stars that’s what I like about it. There’s a serious bit when Faye has a girl she calls her sister but it turns out she’s not really I won’t spoil it let’s just say it’s not very nice.

They made a sequel in 1990, still starring Jack and he directed it instead of Roman Polanski who did the original but the same writer Robert Towne he did some great stuff but you don’t usually hear about the screenwriter just the director that’s funny ain’t it no script no film if you ask me but there you go. The sequel wasn’t as good of course they never are are they apart from people say the Godfather series is different but I don’t know you can have too much gangster stuff I reckon.

 

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