Chinatown, 1974


{Theatrical Release Poster}

After being hired by a jealous wife, a private investigator becomes personally involved with a case where nothing is as it appears to be.

My thoughts: What an entangled story! The good makings of a mystery novel, but I am not sure how well it came across on the screen. The film was so long (over 2 hours) that I kept wondering when it was ever going to end.

The Facts: Evelyn is the daughter of Noah Cross, business partner of Hollis Mulwray. After being raped and impregnated with her father’s child at fifteen, Evelyn flees to Mexico. Hollis follows her and marries her. A fallout occurs between Hollis and Noah over Evelyn. Hollis and Evelyn shield the child Katherine from Noah. Fifteen years later, Gittes investigates and takes pictures of what he believes to be an affair between Hollis and a young woman (in reality the hidden Katherine). Noah wins it all – he gets Katherine who has been hidden from him for years, his first daughter and former business partner are out of the picture so they are no witnesses, and he is now free to follow through with his devious plan of annexing the Northwest Valley into the city of Los Angeles and using it for personal gain.

The Story: It begins after Noah has put his plan into action to find his second daughter, and dispose of his former business partner who learned the truth of his underhand dealings. Gittes was at the crime scene only hours after the murder of Hollis, if only he had pulled the bifocals out of the water sooner the film might have taken a very different turn.

We are not introduced to the real Ms. Mulwray until twenty minutes into the film and at this moment we are also introduced to the first conflict. In contrast, workings of Noah are introduced no later than 4 minutes after the introduction. Forty minutes in investigating gets real for Gittis when his life is threatened, a stark contrast from his men taking pictures of adultery from a distance, also something he has not dealt with since working in Chinatown years prior.

Everything is connected and has a purpose- though Curly was only part of the first three minutes of the film, he is later reintroduced and is the reason Gittes escapes from the police.

I liked the ending when it finally came around. It was realistic. Nobody wins. The heroine is killed, justice will not come to the criminal, the innocent is emotionally scarred forever and thrown into a dangerous situation (what if Noah continues his previous behavior?), and the hero is left alone to wallow in self-pity.

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