by Evans Yonson
The latest classic movie I have seen is Roman Polanski’s Chinatown. The film is released in 1974 and have won several awards including an Oscar for Robert Towne (original screenplay), a BAFTA and a Golden Globe each for Jack Nicholson (actor) and Polanski (director), and Towne. If you’re an environmentalist and a political activist, then Chinatown must be your favorite of all time.
This movie is not exactly about any Chinese character or any community for that matter. There are some Asian supporting characters (and actors like James Hong) in the film but what it is all about is the controversial water system of Los Angeles.
Jack Nicholson delivers a wonderful performance as Jake Gittes, a scheming private detective on the lookout for a more lucrative sleuthing in Los Angeles. Faye Dunaway comes up with another unforgettable character as Evelyn Mulwray. She appeared as Vicki Anderson in Thomas Crowne Affair (1968) and as Bonnie Parker in Bonnie and Clyde the year before (opposite the handsome Warren Beatty). In Chinatown, her character provides the mystery link to all that is happening in Los Angeles.
Chinatown is Polanski’s last movie filmed in the United States. Robert Towne wrote three screenplays for the character Jake Gittes, the private investigator. The second film was released in 1990 directed by Jack Nicholson entitled The Two Jakes.
Morty: Can you believe it? We’re in the middle of a drought, and the water commissioner drowns. Only in L.A.
Noah Cross (played by John Huston): Either you bring the water to L.A. or you bring L.A. to the water.
Jake Gittes (played by Jack Nicholson): So there’s this guy Walsh, do you understand? He’s tired of screwin’ his wife… So his friend says to him, “Hey, why don’t you do it like the Chinese do?” So he says, “How do the Chinese do it?” And the guy says, “Well, the Chinese, first they screw a little bit, then they stop, then they go and read a little Confucius, come back, screw a little bit more, then they stop again, go and they screw a little bit… then they go back and they screw a little bit more and then they go out and they contemplate the moon or something like that. Makes it more exciting.” So now, the guy goes home and he starts screwin’ his own wife, see. So he screws her for a little bit and then he stops, and he goes out of the room and reads Life Magazine. Then he goes back in, he starts screwin’ again. He says, “Excuse me for a minute, honey.” He goes out and he smokes a cigarette. Now his wife is gettin’ sore as hell. He comes back in the room, he starts screwin’ again. He gets up to start to leave again to go look at the moon. She looks at him and says, “Hey, whats the matter with ya. You’re screwin’ just like a Chinaman!”