Thug with knife: "You're a very nosy fellow, kitty cat. Huh? You know what happens to nosy fellows? Huh? No? Wanna guess? Huh? No?"

Classic film noir from 1974. Directed by Roman Polanski and written by Robert Towne, who won an Oscar for his screenplay. Starred Jack Nicholson as Jake Gittes, Faye Dunaway as Evelyn Mulwray, John Huston as Noah Cross, and Diane Ladd as the mysterious Ida Sessions. Polanski himself appeared in a cameo role as a cheap thug with a knife. It was followed by a 1990 sequel, "The Two Jakes", which was directed by Nicholson.

Plot summary: Private eye Jake Gittes is hired for a simple snoop job on an adultery case, but ends up getting involved in a murder investigation, a shady land deal, twisted family secrets, and far more danger than he's being paid for.

This is a brilliant, multilayered, shocking movie, and one of the most acclaimed and enduring films to come out of the 1970s. Polanski is at the very top of his game, and Towne's script is riveting and corkscrew-convoluted. Nicholson and Dunaway are very good, but let's be honest -- the best actor in this picture is Huston, playing the mega-wealthy, charismatic, amoral Noah Cross. If there was ever a bad guy who you really wanted to see put down at the end of the movie, it's Noah Cross. And in the film, as in real life, at the end, the bad guy gets away with it. No, not the most upbeat ending ever, but if you're watching noir for happy endings, you're doomed to disappointment.

"Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown."

A place usually somewhere near downtown of a city, where Chinese people gather and open shops to sell wares from back home. These goods they sell are usually unattainable in regular shops. They include food, video rentals and dry goods.

Many Chinese still live in Chinatown. The reason many Chinatowns are so close to downtown is because when the Chinese first arrived at a city they are poor and settle in the cheapest parts of town. For example, in Toronto Chinatown is close to the University of Toronto, a decent but still poor area, in New York City it is located in lower Manhattan, and in Sydney it is between George Street and Darling Harbor, a fairly decent area.

In cities nowadays with very large Chinese populations, such as Toronto and Houston (I have never been to San Francisco so I can't write about their famous Chinatown), there are several Chinatowns spread all over the city, usually in the suburbs. Those are usually much cleaner and more modern than old Chinatowns. The old ones are usually filthy. Examples: Vancouver, New York City.

Chinatown does not have to be all Chinese, there are many other Asian ethnicities that open up shop there, including Indonesians, Koreans, Japanese and Vietnamese.

Recommended purchases at any Chinatown are the wide range of roasted poultry. You can tell where to get these if you look for a storefront with a giant glass window and rows and rows of roasted birds hanging on iron hooks. Duck and goose are the best. Also, the roasted pork isn't too bad either.

If you're Chinese and you don't know how to speak Chinese, you might be looked down upon in Chinatown. To them, you are a banana. Yellow on the outside, white inside. Not very nice, but oh well, if you're Chinese then you should have at least some knowledge of your own language. Just my opinion.

I don’t mean to talk in circles but my mouth is a road’s wish
Back seem but and/or Sometimes and
Been to my RAPED hanging
Tried forced health curtains and it inhales my agents.
Hanging, and don’t I message done ropes?
These have CRIMINAL minds to go.
Sometimes I wish that my mind could come in those Chinese to-go boxes with the red imprints
upon them done in fantastical Oriental dragons. Or like a pack of cigarettes bought in
Chinatown.
I don’t mean to talk in circles but my mouth is My PROBLEMS 555-5603.
Chronic basic blankets all sometimes and to militant name
I talk in circles but my mouth is my
I, Oriental who die come fight MAN
Thought my boxes to the dead donkeys and the cooked chickens hanging on ropes.
I don’t want to go to go. Sometimes I wish that my mind could come.
Thought goes in that relaxing tangential mode…
Who was the face, what was her name?
The roads here seem endless and they all lead to Chinatown.
I don’t want to go to go.
I don’t mean to talk in circles but my mouth is imprints rights.
Them, Alysia is 555-6800 or lead 444.
But face, no bought fearless answers, no NOT they in a Chinatown.
Donkey’s mode... relaxing.
Endless write involved all of like human lungs to them amongst toxic don’t her.
I need a militant and fearless RAPED attorney Call Alysia. (510) 555-6800 ext. 444. If no one answers
DO NOT LEAVE A MESSAGE.
Try back later and/or write to: Dust blankets hanging like curtains amongst my lungs Sometimes I cough them up and it looks like dryer sheets.
I don’t want to die but we’ve all go to Chinatown, to see the dead donkeys and the cooked chickens hanging on ropes.
I don’t want to die but we’ve all got to go to go to go to go.
Sometimes I wish that my mind could come in those Chinese to-go boxes with the red imprints upon them done in fantastical Oriental dragons. Or like a pack of cigarettes bought in Chinatown. Thought goes in that relaxing tangential mode...
who was the face, what was her name
The roads here seem endless and they all lead to Chinatown.
I don’t want to go to Chinatown, to see the dead donkeys and the cooked chickens hanging on ropes. I don’t want to go to go to go.
I don’t mean to talk in circles but my mouth is HEALTH to be we’ve and the cooked chickens
hanging on ropes. I don’t mean to talk in circles but my mouth is the chickens go it and the cooked chickens hanging on ropes. I don’t mean to talk in circles but my mouth is sheets.
If no one answers DO NOT LEAVE A MESSAGE.. Dust blankets
Hanging like curtains amongst my lungs sometimes I cough them up and it looks like dryer sheets.
I don’t mean to talk in circles but my mouth is people fantastical
And that circles like pack VIOLATIONS.
Chinatown Chinese you at (510) 555-5603.
I have been CHEMICALLY RAPED and “forced” to inhale toxic and cancer-causing agents. These people have been involved in CRIMINAL VIOLATIONS. My HEALTH PROBLEMS are chronic and severe. I need a militant and fearless “MAN” attorney who can fight for my right to health and basic human civil rights. Call Alysia. (510) 555-6800 ext. 444. If no one answers DO NOT LEAVE A MESSAGE! But you can leave a message at (510) 555-5603.
I don’t mean to…
I don’t want to go to Chinatown, I don’t want to die but the roads all lead to Chinatown.
I don’t want to go to go to go to go to go to go to go
I don’t mean to talk in circles but my mouth is an O.

My first venture into Chinatown was seeped with mystery. I was swept away by a tide of things unknown and puzzling. A cryptic language rained down around me, alluring smells taunted me, and I gazed at food and produce I could not understand. I was engulfed by a mass of people, moving not of my own free will, but by the forward motion of others. Individuals seemed to break off from the mob or rejoin it at random, but they were guided by their own needs. Not me, I went blindly, confused, forgetting why I had entered this part of New York. Then I realized that I was soaked through and had originally been on a mission to find an umbrella. Before I knew what had happened, I was in a completely different part of the city, still without the portable awning that I desired and needed, and quite baffled. The only clear memory that I retained from my short trip was the flash of sign: “Live geoduck,” which haunts me until today.

In Toronto, where I grew up, there were three Chinatowns. I brushed the outskirts of the downtown location when as a teenager I would seek second hand Levi’s in the neighbouring Kensington market with girlfriends, who like me were aiming to be alternative and slick. Now gentrified, revitalized, yuppified or what have you, Kensington is no longer a destination of choice for young hipsters, but the neighbouring Chinatown appears to have retained its original vibrancy. We never crossed the boundary between the two areas; it seemed the border was guarded by an invisible force and having no need to transgress, I never took it upon myself to pursue its secrets.

There was a different ethnic enclave in Toronto that seemed to me welcoming and comforting. It revolved around a five block stretch of Roncesvales Avenue in Toronto’s West side and was predominantly of Polish influence. I came here every Saturday with my parents on their weekly shopping excursions. Roncesvales Avenue, like Chinatown, is a taste of the motherland, a cradle of a lost or abandoned heritage. Here Poles could converse in their native tongue with passers-by, find literature in their own language and buy produce without having to rely on the sometimes broken English that betrayed them as foreign. For me it meant that I could indulge in pastries that my mother had little time or patience to make at home and I always begged the heal of the fresh caraway rye loaves that were found only here.

There was something besides material goods that drew us and other families here on a weekly basis. There was a community spirit, a unifying force of culture here that was not to be found anywhere else in Toronto for immigrant Poles, struggling to make Canada their new home. I am certain that this spirit or force exists in Vancouver's Chinatown, where I lived for a short time, but I was excluded from it, as non Poles were excluded from grasping the life pulse of Roncesvales. I felt like a minority living amidst a minority, but unlike my neighbours, I was able to leave it and my marginalization at will, unlike some who were trapped in its stereotypes. I was a welcome stranger in my adopted community.

These days, it seems as though Chinatown is as slick and popular of a destination as Kennsington of the 1980’s. In the wake of globalization, Canadian society is moving full speed ahead in the appropriation of the cultures that thrive within its boundaries. Fashion, cuisine, literature, film and religion are being popularized, glamourized and to a certain degree marketed as trendy and in vogue. The borders that seemed so imposing to me a decade ago are going the way of the Berlin Wall. Venturing into Chinatown or Little Italy, no longer implies traveling into some cultural frontier land. There will always remain some small aspect that is incapable of being appropriated. For me, live geoduck remains, and always will remain, in the realm of the exotic and mysterious. I have spent countless hours staring at it in the market, wondering what it is, how it is prepared and eaten, what sorts of sauces and garnishes adorn it and what types of cutlery its consumption demands. Like all cultures outside of my own experience, there is an energy surge here that I will never wholly understand and can only comment on as an outsider.

One of the greatest movies ever made, released in 1974, directed by Roman Polanski and starring Jack Nicholson. Set in Los Angeles in 1937, the film revisits the film noir classics of the 1930s and 40s and Nicholson's portrayal of the private eye Jake Gittes is a clear invocation of the spirits of Marlowe and Spade.

The plot concerns Gittes being hired by a concerned wife, played by Diane Ladd who is concerned her husband, water chief Hollis Mulwray, is playing away from home. Gittes takes the job, spies Mulwray with a young blonde and finds the case splashed all over the papers. Enter Faye Dunaway. It transpires that she is the real wife of Mulwray and that Ladd was a working girl hired to blacken the Mulwray name. Gittes starts to poke deeper and further but it is not long before the body of Mulwray is pulled out of his own reservoir. Then things start to get interesting.

The film plays almost entirely through the eyes of Gittes, and Nicholson gives one of his best performances, with no indication of his later descent into the 'mad Jack' caricature. Dunaway is similarly excellent, playing up as the classic femme fatale in the tradition of the genre, a perception enhanced as it is reflected through Nicholson's cynical viewpoint. The climactic revelation changes every aspect of Dunaway's performance, making a second reviewing a rewarding experience and flags up the stench of evil and corruption embodied by Noah Cross.

Cross, played by the renowned director John Huston, sits at the heart of the film in a quitely understated but deeply sinister role. He is one of those rich, powerful, corrupt and evil men who always seem to rise to the top and pull the strings in any half-decent political thriller. But Cross is more than this, he is also the future, and our other protagonists, reeling towards Chinatown, are powerless to do anything to withstand him, leading to the famous concluding lines, "forget it Jake, it's Chinatown."

Initially, Chinatown was meant to convey a certain mood, the stench of corruption where the normal rules no longer apply and honest men fear to tread. Indeed in scriptwriter Robert Towne's original script Chinatown did not appear as a location. But after a long conflict between Towne and Polanski over how to end the film, Polanski won, and a final confrontation was added, giving the film the tragic climax that would make Chinatown one of the most memorable films of the 70s.

The picture was nominated for 11 oscars, but only Towne won for his screenplay. Nevertheless this would be a career highpoint for most of those involved, and is probably the best work that Roman Polanski has produced to date.

Cast

Jack Nicholson - J.J. Gittes
Faye Dunaway - Evelyn Mulwray
John Huston - Noah Cross
Perry Lopez - Lieutenant Lou Escobar
John Hillerman - Yelburton
Darrell Zwerling - Hollis Mulwray
Diane Ladd - Ida Sessions
Roy Jenson - Mulvihill
Roman Polanski - Man with knife
Richard Bakalyan - Loach
Joe Mantell - Lawrence Walsh
James Hong - Kahn
Burt Young - Curly

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