Celebrating Great Films

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


Chinatown#44 at time of writing.

This late take on the film noir genre is renowned as having one of the best scripts of all time. The story is indeed clever, if a little complicated at first. Even if you do feel a bit lost at the beginning, it is definitely worth sticking it out while the scale of the conspiracy is discovered and the sense of menace grows.

The characters are wonderful, with Jack Nicholson playing private eye Jake Gittes, who manages never to be out of his depth simply because he has so much of it; and Faye Dunaway playing femme fatale Evelyn Mulwray, cloaked in mystery, and eventually tragedy.

Amusingly, the role of Evelyn Mulwray was originally intended for the producer's wife, Ali MacGraw, but she lost the role when she divorced him for Steve McQueen.

This film manages to be an evocative noir despite being in full colour - the only darkness is provided by the characters themselves. And the atmosphere is underpinned beautifully by haunting trumpet solos throughout.

The bitter taste of injustice that you are left with at the end is all the more poignant because the scandals that inspired the story are based on truth.

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