Paramount Pictures' Chinatown gets its Blu-ray premiere on April 3 in a newly remastered edition. Director Roman Polanski described Chinatown as "a traditional detective story with a new, modern shape." It was the first film to be personally produced by Robert Evans, Paramount's highly successful Executive Vice President in Charge of Worldwide Production. Chinatown was Polanski's first film in Hollywood since "Rosemary's Baby" in 1968. It is an original screenplay by Robert Towne (a recent Academy Award nominee for his script of "The Last Detail"), set in 1937, which was filmed on locations in the Los Angeles area.
Jack Nicholson portrays J. J. Gittes, a matrimonial investigator who is well known for his "discreet" work gathering evidence for sometimes sensational divorce cases. He is driven against his will into a larger and more important case. Faye Dunaway portrays Evelyn Mulwray, a prominent city official's wife, a sophisticated and elegantly dressed lady from Pasadena. John Huston plays her father, Noah Cross, a powerful, enigmatic millionaire. Other major roles are played by Perry Lopez, John Hiller-man, Darrell Zwerling, Diane Ladd, Roy Jenson and Roman Polanski. Production design is by Richard Sylbert and costumes by Anthea Sylbert. The director of photography was John A. Alonzo. The music was scored by Jerry Goldsmith. C. O. Erickson is associate producer and film editor is Sam O'Steen.
Evans originally offered screenplay writer Robert Towne $170,000 in order for him to write the screenplay for the 1974 film The Great Gatsby, but Towne felt he could not do justice or improve upon the famous F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. So Towne instead asked for and received $25,000 to write his own story with creative freedom being part of the contract, and wrote Chinatown, which took him over a year and a half. Towne has said that he got his title from a Hungarian vice cop who had worked in Chinatown. It is from this man that Towne learned of the ciminal aspects of the area, the gangs, the mob and the illegal monetary activities.
Towne said in an interview on the set for The New York Times that "He told me that there was plenty of illegal activity going on in Chinatown. Calls would come in daily and it was regularly a call for that area which we would investigate. We were unsure about many of the facts of some of the criminal activity, so we often times didn't do anything, or rather have the capacity to do anything." The only problem that is noted was a feud between Evans and Towne about the ending of the picture. Evans wanted the Hollywood happy ending, but Towne envisioned a more dark finale. The two did not communicate for some time while the screenplay was being written, and Towne waited until several days before shooting began to write the ending, this almost forcing Evans to accept the chosen end scene. Some say the chosen ending was under the direction of Polanski. Towne ended up producing a script of 317 pages, which had to be severely trimmed. Polanski insisted on observing the complete rewrite, to the displeasure of Towne.
Jack Nicholson publicity still
According to the PBS documentary, "Inventing LA: The Chandlers and Their Times," the character Noah Cross is based on first publisher and owner of the Los Angeles Times, Harrison Gray Otis. The character of Noah Cross is even made up to look like Otis. In real life, Otis was, according to the documentary, one of the prime powers behind Mulholland and the building of the Los Angeles aquaduct; it eventually stretched from the east side of the Sierra Nevada mountains in the Owens Valley hundreds of miles to the city of Los Angeles. Otis bought up large areas in the San Fernando Valley when it was mostly cheap farmland. Then Otis and his rich real estate associates had the aquaduct ended at the northern tip of the San Fernando Valley, instead of letting it connect into what was then Los Angeles city; the urban area was then south of the Valley. By having the water supply stop at the far end of the San Fernando Valley, Otis was one of the prime movers to turn the farmland into an extended part of Los Angeles. This made Otis and his descendents fabulously wealthy, primarily in the beginning from real estate, not publishing. In contrast to these corrupt manipulations of public policy to enrich themselves, Mulholland was merely an honest city worker, the chief architect of the aquaduct, and remains perhaps the greatest hero of Los Angeles. More than anyone else, the people of Los Angeles regard Mulholland as the man who made it possible to build a major metropolis in an otherwise fairly dry area. For the Owens Valley people, who lost their water to Los Angeles, Mulholland is hated to this day.
In an interview with Robert Towne about the film, he said, "With Chinatown, I originally thought I'd do a detective movie. That was all, initially. But then, I didn't want to do just any detective movie. Once you say you want to do a detective movie, you start thinking about what crime is to you, what it really means, what you think is really a horrible crime and what angers you. So I thought, I don't want to do a crime movie about the kind of things that don't anger me. I wanted to do something that really infuriated me. The destruction of the land and that community was something that I thought was really hideous. It was doubly significant because it was the way Los Angeles was formed, really. You can't wing it. In the case of Chinatown, I wrote at least 20 different step outlines--long, long step outlines, that got me about 70 percent of the way through it. Finally, after the twentieth I said, "Well, this is far enough. I know where it's going to end. Now, I'll just devote myself to the problem of writing it." Usually, I have a pretty clear idea of where it's going to end up, even if I don't know every step of the way. When you get to that moment when the film is about to be shot, you realize a lot of things that you don't realize when it's on paper. Things are suddenly very scary. And you think, Jesus, this is really awkward. Or it might be just a simple logistical problem: making sure that a guy who has got to get to a door has enough business to cover an action that's absolutely necessary. It can be at that level or on a more serious level. Those problems have to be dealt with all the time, drastically or just very carefully.
Poster from Czechoslovakia
Jack Nicholson, who has appeared in screen roles looking like a battered Raggedy Andy throwaway, now had the chance to discard the tattered rags and assimilate a style much closer to his off-screen personality, a sophisticated and elegant fashion-conscious gentleman in his role as a Thirties detective.
Nicholson plays an elegantly attired private eye. Anthea Sylbert, who designed Nicholson's Fifties clothes in "Carnal Knowledge," created a 1937 wardrobe featuring three-piece, double-breasted suits with chalk stripes, half-belted, action-back jackets, wide-knee pants, peaked lapels, wing-tip shoes and lots of hats. In a bedroom scene with Faye, Jack wears maroon silk pajamas with initialed cuffs. It was a sumptuous and welcome change of look for Nicholson, who hadn't had much of a fling at fashion in most of his movie roles—the alcoholic Southern lawyer with wrinkled seersucker suit in "Easy Rider," the unkempt oil rigger in "Five Easy Pieces" or the uniformed sailor in "The Last Detail." Off-screen Nicholson is quite fashion-conscious and shops at the chic men's stores. He arranged to keep his Chinatown wardrobe after filming was completed. "I've been wearing this stuff for years," he commented.
Jack Nicholson publicity still
The clothes also fit his approach to the character of stylish divorce detective J. J. Gittes. "Gittes is to detectives what Earl Rogers was to lawyers," Nicholson notes. "He was a very flashy lawyer, well known in town. When they were doing all those detective movies in the Thirties, he's the guy they would go to spend a day or two with, to pick up the style. Barrymore used to go down to court to watch him." Robert Towne, who wrote the screenplay of Chinatown specifically for Nicholson, was well aware of Gittes' classic film predecessors, notably Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe. And what type of detective is Gittes? "No type," Nicholson stated in an on-set interview. "He's a different guy altogether. He's a nosy pragmatist, a snoop. That's his job. He used to work for the D.A.'s office in Chinatown, but he left in some mysterious traumatic circumstances. Now he earns his living obtaining photographic evidence for divorce suits.
Jack Nicholson on the set
"He's ambitious, but no more than anyone who is successful. "Gittes does his job with style and he still believes in certain things. To me, his story is about taking a chance when you know the odds are against it, going up against the big boys — for a reason, for your own integrity, for a feeling you have for another person." Director Polanski called Gittes "the most realistic and human of all screen detectives." Faye Dunaway added, "On the surface, Gittes is a private eye who's very charming and a little bit overdressed. He's always trying to move upward, to make some kind of improvement and because of that he's really vulnerable. "It's much more real than the lady-killer image he's got. The character is really endearing. He's trying to keep his head above water in a difficult world — not like Bogart, Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe, who were on top of things all the time."
Nicholson, who is a lifelong reader of detective fiction and a devoted fan of private eye movies, didn't try to emulate any other screen detectives. "This one's unique," Jack notes. "I didn't want this to be like any of the others." According to Polanski, he and Nicholson were in several very heated arguments on the set. One was so bad that he took a mop and plunged it into Nicholson's portable television set, which Nicholson always took on the set for breaks. On the other hand, Polanski argued with Dunaway time and time again, bringing us to the possible conclusion that it might have been Polanski that was the difficult one to work with.
German Style A poster
Director Roman Polanski
"I always wanted to make a private eye movie," confessed Roman Polanski, the Polish film director who frightened millions of moviegoers with "Rosemary's Baby." Chinatown was his first United States-based film since that successful 1968 thriller. Polanski, an enthusiastic talker, described Chinatown as "a classical detective story with a modern shape." "I'm a movie buff and I love films of the thirties and forties." he explained. Before filming Chinatown, Polanski did some enjoyable homework. holing himself up in a screening room with prints of such classic murder melodramas as "The Maltese Falcon" (directed by John Huston, who plays an important role in Chinatown) and "The Big Sleep." two Alan Ladd vehicles, "This Gun for Hire" and "The Glass Key" and a pair of Hitchcock gems, "Stranger on a Train" and "Rear Window."
Polanski had actually first heard about the script from Jack Nicholson, because the two been in contact and wanted to make a movie together when they found the right property. The two had become friends long before Chinatown was made and often dined together and would stay in telephone contact. Nicholson had the highest respect for Polanski's work, but it wasn't until Chinatown came along that Nicholson felt this was the perfect combination for the two. Living in Europe at the time, Polanski initially balked at returning to the city where five years previously his wife, actress Sharon Tate, and their unborn child were viciously murdered by acolytes of Charles Manson. But the script intrigued Polanski enough to overcome his reservations. "I was eager to try my hand at something entirely different," he said (in his autobiography Polanski by Polanski), "in this case, a potentially first-rate thriller showing how the history and boundaries of L.A. had been fashioned by human greed."
Roman Polanski behind the camera
While not divulging any important clues to the mystery that Chinatown was about, Polanski offered a thumbnail description of the plot devised by author Robert Towne. an Academy Award nominee for "The Last Detail." Jack Nicholson plays J. J. Gittes, a divorce detective who is driven against his will into a large, important case; Faye Dunaway is his mysterious client, and John Huston is her powerful millionaire father. Polanski wouldn't say much more than that except that Gittes is "a realistic descendant of Philip Marlowe" and that the Dunaway character "is sort of a traditional femme fatale." And he adds that he shot the film "without gimmicks" so that the audience could keep track of the clues." The director was lured back to Hollywood by Paramount Pictures' production chief Robert Evans with whom he had first worked on"Rosemary's Baby." Evans, who produced Chinatown, his first such endeavor, believed that Polanski could repeat his "Rosemary's Baby" triumph with Chinatown and soon won over the director's initial reluctance to do an original screenplay.
I didn't especially want to come to Hollywood. I came to make this picture," explained Polanski. "I wanted very much to do a film with Jack Nicholson. We have a sort of mutual admiration for each other. I think Jack is about the best actor around."
When asked if he has a particularly favorite locale for filming, Polanski appreciated the question, having set up cameras in such far-flung spots as Northumberland ("Cul-de-Sac," "Macbeth"), Italy "What"), London ("Repulsion," Fearless Vampire Killers"), Poland ("Knife in the Water") and New York City's West Side ("Rosemary's Baby"). "The best place?" Polanski answered, "That's like asking a gourmet where is the best place to eat. Wherever there is a good meal." If you watch closely, Polanski has a cameo in the picture as a gangster who cuts Gittes' nose. The knife was a very sharp knife and Nicholson was very concerned about being cut. The scene was shot twelve times, and according to screenwriter Towne, who many times visited the set, Nicholson was "worn out" by the time it was finished. Polanski had a particularity difficult time working with Faye Dunaway, whose hiring was his decision. Dunaway, according to Polanski, would throw tantrums on the set and wanted more and more re-shoots, unhappy with previous takes. In the end, Dunaway became known by Polanski as "The dreaded Dunaway."
Roman Polanski and Jack Nicholson on the set
According to his autobiography, Polanski was extremely upset when he got the dailies back from the processing lab, especially the first batch because the film contained a red-orange tint. Polanski found out that it was Evans who ordered this, and Polanski immediately contacted the lab and corrected the situation. In his book, Polanski states that "The orange-red tint was awful. Los Angeles didn't look like that and I would be damned if my film would." Another change Polanski made was firing the original cinematographer, Stanley Coretz. He felt that Coretz did not know how to convey the grim reality Polanski was trying to get across, so he chose John. A. Alonzo. Several of the Coretz scenes do remain in the film.
The original poster from Poland
Robert Evans, Producer
"He can go no higher in Hollywood" Esquire magazine wrote about Robert Evans, Paramount Pictures' Executive Vice President in Charge of Worldwide Production. Evans' success has made him one of the most respected men in Hollywood. Under his aegis Paramount produced such landmark hits as "The Odd Couple," "True Grit," "Goodbye, Columbus," "Romeo and Juliet," "Rosemary's Baby," "The Godfather," "Love Story," "Lady Sings the Blues," "Paper Moon" and more. Firmly enthroned in filmdom's pantheon of studio bosses, Evans found yet another place to go, he produced his own films. For his first personally-produced film, Evans chose Robert Towne's screenplay of Chinatown.
Evans chose Roman Polanski to direct Chinatown locations in Los Angeles not far from Evans' Paramount headquarters in Beverly Hills. Evans began his historic reign as Paramount's production chief when the studio made"Rosemary's Baby." "It was always my intention that the first picture I produced be with Roman," Evans recalled speaking to Time Magazine. " 'Rosemary's Baby' was a difficult book to turn into a film, and it was Roman who brought that picture its quality. I never knew the film would turn out as well as it did and it was Roman who made it happen that way. Evans originally wanted Jane Fonda for the role of Evelyn Mulwray, but Polanski was dead-set on Faye Dunaway. With the decision of the ending going to either Polanski or Towne, Evans lost another decision here. Ali MacGraw was also mentioned for the part (mainly because she was the wife of the producer).
"I told Roman at the time that the first picture I produce I wanted him to direct and I mentioned it to him again several times over the next five years. About a year ago, I told him the story of 'Chinatown' while Bob Towne was still working on the screenplay. Then I called him in London to come to the United States to discuss the first draft. He said 'I can't come now because I want to go to Poland to my family's seder (Passover service).' I said, 'if you come over here, I'll give you a seder at my house. I told him I had to have him here that week to make a determination of who is going to do this picture.
East German poster for advance ticket ordering
He flew over and he flipped for the idea." Evans did indeed have catered a $500 Passover dinner and even had a Rabbi there to read Passover passages. Polanski remarked later in several interviews that he thought this was the most thoughtful thing anyone had done for him, and it impressed him tremendously. "I couldn't believe the details. He had Yarmelkes, a Rabbi, and a delicious completely kosher dinner, and had several Hollywood stars and directors at the dinner. I don't think I have ever eaten so much, there were six courses served by a very professional staff.
Original Lobby Cards
After the dinner and the guests had gone, we sat down to discuss the film. Discussed at the meeting was the screenplay, how Evans felt that this would be a picture that could even be nominated for many Oscars, and how Polanski felt about the story and what he would think about doing with it."
Said Polanski of Evans: "He's the only movie company executive I've met with whom I speak the same language. He's an absolutely honest person in all he does. He says yes or no, without messing you around. That's pretty rare in the entertainment industry. He knows exactly what he wants, he has this vivid picture in his mind of the entire film, even before a script has been completed. "On 'Rosemary's Baby' I was going over budget and there was an enormous amount of pressure. Bob stood behind me from the beginning to the end. "It was then that I knew I had a really good man here, and we became friends. He had a good, tough confidence in the venture and in me and in his own taste." Evans had so much confidence in Polanski that he "set him loose" to make the film and felt he could be left alone without studio interference. This was the key to making a good movie, according to Polanski. "When the studio has people coming at you from all directions with what they want, it's like being harassed. To make a film with Evans gave me such a sense of freedom I rarely saw in Hollywood.
To prepare for her role in the film, Faye Dunaway spent weeks researching life in the thirties at libraries, costume shops and with historians. She was said to be completely in character when she arrived on the set each day, something she had always done for her films. In the make-up chairs, she would be Evelyn Mulwray (whom she portrayed in the film). The crew would try to discuss current events with her when they first started filming in the picture, and finally she held a meeting with them and told them that it was not that she is ignoring them, she must arrive in character. Dunaway said she would always be up at the crack of dawn and get herself into the role, it was her method during filming any picture. During filming, she would only read books printed in the 1930's, she would eat foods that were popular in the era, and would try to live the part as much as she could. "I prefer to arrive on the set in character rather than wait for a director to call "Action." I believe it not only helped me with this role, but all of my pictures."
Faye Dunaway publicity still
Faye Dunaway publicity still
Faye Dunaway, the actress whose blonde, chiseled looks and high fashion veneer gave the impression that she not only breakfasts at Tiffany's but lunched and dined there too, was currently back in the 1930s for her movie role and she couldn't have been happier. After all, it was the Thirties and the role of Bonnie Parker in "Bonnie and Clyde" that sent the actress' career into the stratosphere. The actress also sparked a Thirties fashion trend with the success of that movie. For her return to the Thirties in Chinatown, Faye's "threads" are strictly high fasion and she has kept several of the costumes. She laughed as she said that the silk stockings she wears in the film were from Paris. "Some were still in their original Thirties packages," she exclaims. In the film, which is a mystery decidedly in the Raymond Chandler school, the actress plays the role of Evelyn Mulwray, a sophisticated but mysterious Pasadena, California, socialite, circa 1937, whose father (played by John Huston) is an enigmatic millionaire. "I portray a woman who has been taught how to live well," she explained, and, of course that also means dressing well."
Spanish Lobby Cards
Fashion-loving Faye was delighted with the wardrobe designed for her by Anthea Sylbert, who researched through old copies of Life, Vogue, Vanity Fair, movie magazines and personal snapshots from the period to catch the spirit, of the era. Sylbert also conducted dozens of interviews on the subject and spent six months hard at work. "We tried not to be costumey," Faye said, talking about the clothing she wore in the film. "As Anthea told me, in the '30s women had their own personal look, like the Duchess of Windsor. Even ordinary ladies looked great in those days. They always wore the proper shoes, the proper hat, and there were specific clothes for specific occasions. You didn't just wear any old thing."
"The wardrobe ranges from riding britches with canvas and leather boots to a crepe black satin robe of apricot for a bedroom scene," Faye said, "The diamond and emerald bracelets I wear are genuine Cartier originals and I am especially fond of the dove gray suit with belted jacket and oyster white blouse I have on when I first meet the detective Jack Nicholson plays in the film." "The woman I'm playing is well bred, well schooled, and somewhat cool on the surface," continued Faye. "I guess I get on Jack's nerves in the film because Evelyn is so self assured and he resents his need for her. 'Chinatown' is primarily a detective story, not a love story. Certainly not a conventional love story, anyway. The relationship between Gittes (the Jack Nicholson character) and Evelyn has a modern, contemporary quality which is fascinatingly played in the romantic period of the Thirties. I think it will illuminate how relationships are changing. It's an offbeat love story, not that same old pap about what a good woman is and what a good man is."
When John Huston, the award-laden movie director, was signed for a co-starring role in Chinatown, it was a cinematic homecoming to gladden the hearts of movie buffs everywhere. After all, hadn't Huston given us "The Maltese Falcon"? Never mind that it was the third time at bat for that particular story, Huston's version is considered generally to be the best-ever detective story movie and 33 years later it was still forming lines at the boxoffice and winning applause whenever it crops up at revival houses or was in re-release by the studio.
John Huston (personally autographed) publicity still
Polanski, a dyed-in-the-wool movie buff and a private eye novel enthusiast, was realizing a long-time ambition of his own when Robert Evans asked him to direct Chinatown. Polanski had always wanted to direct a film in the tradition of "The Maltese Falcon" and "The Big Sleep," and it was now happening for him. But getting Huston to play a co-starring role opposite Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway was really getting the icing on the well-known cake. Huston, who considered acting "a lark" ("I still don't take this new advocation of mine all that seriously—I'm a director,", not surprisingly he had a great love for the detective story genre.
Thinking back on the three decades since he made his directorial debut with "Maltese" (he had been a highly successful scenarist before 1941 with such films as "Juarez," "Jezebel" and "High Sierra" to his credits), Huston says he hadn't noticed many changes in the detective thriller format. "Possibly," he reasoned, "because the form itself is so very fascinating and satisfying. There have been variations, of course, many of them have been interesting and I'm sure that Roman added his own special touch to the great tradition. I've seen very few directors so determined to get the story on the screen in the right way." Huston described the role he had in Chinatown as that of "a man who's out to buy the future." The director and occasional actor elaborates: "The character's name is Noah Cross and he's a powerful, enigmatic millionaire. Faye Dunaway is playing his sophisticated daughter and Jack Nicholson is a private detective who stumbles upon a big case involving them both." Punctuating his role description delivery with a rowdy guffaw, Huston explained that Noah "is an old reprobate, the kind of which California was largely composed of in its early days. Point of fact is that 'Chinatown' had a good deal of historical background which gives its private eye story substance and bone."
"Noah's motivation is, number one, money, and, number two, faith in the future. The faith that so many people swear they have when they acquire a lot of money. It's a lovely cover." Much more, Huston doesn't say. "It's a mystery and it wouldn't be fair. Let's just say that I see Gittes (the Nicholson role) as a distant cousin of Sam Spade. Of course, Gittes handles divorce cases, something Spade or Philip Marlowe would never do." Huston noted that Chinatown was filmed extensively on actual locations in Los Angeles and southern California. But location filming was the name of the game at the time in Hollywood. What film directors used to have to conjure up by means of atmospheric lighting and/or sets had then become a matter of simply scouting the right locations and then shooting film there. 'Falcon,' " he recalled, "was made in the studio, with only a shot of the Golden Gate Bridge to let you know you were in San Francisco."
Special Castro Theater showing
Robert Evans originally insisted on Phillip Lambro to write the film's score, and that he did. A completed score was handed over and rejected by Evans. Polanski was, from the start, deeply set on Jerry Goldsmith writing the score. He had deep respect for Goldsmith's work, and was a collector of most of his soundtrack albums. Polanski's friend (and composer) Bronislau Kaper was personally invited to a special screening and told Polanski that the musical score was awful. So in the end, it was Jerry Goldsmith who was hired to write the score, after Lambro's work was rejected. This only gave Goldsmith fifteen days to write the entire score of the film. Goldsmith received an Academy Award nomination for his fifteen days of work, a testament to the genius behind the music. The award actually went to Nino Rota for The Godfather II. The original trailer for Chinatown does indeed contain some of the original score written by Phillip Lambro. The Jerry Goldsmith score has taken ninth place on the American Film Institute's Top Film Scores, a major success considering the amount of time it took Goldsmith to write the music.
Jerry Goldsmith conducting
Filmed in 35mm Panavision and Technicolor, with production starting in September of 1973 and ending in November, Chinatown was released in the United States on June 20, 1974, and had a later reissue in November of 1990. It was filmed in an aspect ratio of 2:35:1 and released in mono sound. Its video appearance was on November 23, 1999. The budget for the film was approximately $6 million, and the film had a gross of $31.6 million, and $12.4 million in rentals. The income from all of the video versions added to the film's take made for a huge success for Paramount. The film was based on a trilogy by Robert Towne and was planned as three films. A sequel was made called The Two Jakes in 1990 and was directed by Jack Nicholson. It did poor business at the boxoffice and opened to poor reviews. The sequel cost Paramount over $19 million and ended up with a gross of about $10 million. This first sequel was so well anticipated by Paramount that they created 70mm blow-up prints for the larger cities. The third film of the trilogy was about the building of the massive freeway system and was to be called "Cloverleaf." In an interview in 2007, Nicholson expressed interest in finishing the trilogy. he changed the name to "Gittes vs. Gittes." Nicholson explained that the first film represented water, "The Two Jakes" represented fire (oil) and Gittes would represent air, somehow incorporating Howard Hughes and air flight.
Poster for the sequel, The Two Jakes, released in 1990
Robert Evans and Faye Dunaway at the premiere
Chinatown holds the number two position on the American Film Institute list of Best Mystery films of all time. It was nominated for eleven Academy Awards and won for Best Original Screenplay. It won Golden Globe Awards for best Film, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Screenplay. It won the BAFTA Film Award in three categories, Best Actor (Nicholson), Best Direction (Polanski) and Best Screenplay (Towne). Chinatown won the Edgar Allen Poe Award for Best Motion Picture, and four Golden Globes (for Best Director, Best Motion Picture Drama, Best Actor and Best Screenplay). There were dozens of other awards given to the film from the PGA, Sant Jordi Awards, Writers Guild of America (Best Drama), New York Film Critics Circle and the National Society of Film Critics.
Catheryn Deneuve, Robert Evans and Faye Dunaway at the 1975Golden Globe Awards
The film ranks 19th on AFI's 100 Years 100 Movies, 16th on AFIs 100 Years 100 Thrills and AFI's Top Mystery movies at number 2. Chinatown was added to the United States Film Registry in 1991 and is listed as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." Indeed, Chinatown has become a beloved classic, one of the most popular films from the 1970's and has been situated on hundreds of top ten lists. The film stands the test of time, and is now preserved on Blu-ray disc.
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All materials in this and other Silver Screen columns are copyright their respective studios, Blu-ray.com and the collection of Robert Siegel. Special thanks to Paramount Pictures publicity for providing rare interviews incorporated into this essay and for background information on the films. Special thanks also to the UCLA film archives. This edition all artwork, publicity and production photos/drawings original copyright Paramount Pictures.