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'Chinatown': Roman Polanski Neo Noir Classic Gets Academy Screening

Chinatown (1974) directed by Roman Polanski, starring Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Huston
John Huston suggests a good homeopathic remedy to Jack Nicholson, who developed a boil on his nose after drinking too much of L.A.'s tap water
Photo: © A.M.P.A.S.

This is part of what I had to say about Chinatown in my (ever-evolving, and admittedly quite incomplete) Best of the Best of 1974 page:

“Released shortly after the end of the Watergate hearings, Chinatown is Roman Polanski's masterpiece and arguably the best mystery thriller ever filmed – it is a ruthless amorality tale about a putrid society in which corruption, violence, and degradation lurk under a veneer of wealth and respectability.”

And indeed, even a quick look at today's headlines demonstrate that Chinatown remains as timely as ever.

Unfortunately, the film's director (who can't set foot in the U.S., else he'll be arrested), the stars, and the screenwriter won't be present at the panel discussion following the film on Aug. 14 at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills, but sometimes the best stories – or at least the ones most people haven't heard of – are told by those on the sidelines of the filmmaking process. More details below.

Press Release:

Beverly Hills, CA – The 1974 Best Picture nominee Chinatown will be screened as the next feature in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' “Great To Be Nominated" series. The film noir-inspired tale of crime and corruption in Los Angeles will be shown on Monday, August 14, at 7:30 p.m. at the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater. Actors Richard Bakalyan, Bruce Glover, James Hong and Burt Young, along with Oscar®-winning screenwriter Robert Towne, assistant director Hawk Koch, and casting director Mike Fenton, will participate in a panel discussion following the screening.

In Chinatown, Jack Nicholson stars as private investigator J.J. Gittes, hired to uncover the personal dalliances of Hollis Mulwray, chief engineer of the L.A. Water Department. But Gittes instead finds himself treading water in a sea of crimes, including murder, municipal corruption and incest. The film earned 11 Academy Award® nominations and won the Oscar for Writing – Original Screenplay (Towne). Chinatown was nominated for Best Picture (Robert Evans, producer), Actor (Nicholson), Actress (Faye Dunaway, as Evelyn Cross Mulwray), Art Direction (Richard Sylbert, W. Stewart Campbell; Set Decoration: Ruby Levitt), Cinematography (John A. Alonzo), Costume Design (Anthea Sylbert), Directing (Roman Polanski), Film Editing (Sam O'Steen), Music – Original Dramatic Score (Jerry Goldsmith) and Sound (Bud Grenzbach, Larry Jost).

The Oscar-nominated animated short Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too and the Oscar-nominated live action short The Concert will be screened prior to the feature.

Tickets for Chinatown may be purchased at a cost of $5 for the general public and $3 for Academy members and students with a valid ID. Tickets may be purchased by mail, in person at the Academy during regular business hours or, depending on availability, on the night of the screening when the doors open at 6:30 p.m. Curtain time for the feature is 7:30 p.m., and pre-show elements will begin at 7 p.m. The Academy is located at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. For more information, call (310) 247-3600.

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1 Comment to 'Chinatown': Roman Polanski Neo Noir Classic Gets Academy Screening

  1. Marcus Tucker

    Chinatown is one of the very best of it's kind and when DePalma's (Ellroy's ) Black Dahlia comes out I know that there will be a lot of comparisions because Ellroy's novel uses very similar plot elements and reviewers thought that it was very derivative of Chinatown (maybe the reason Ellroy doesn't like Chinatown).