HIDDEN GEMS: 28. CHINATOWN
Hidden Gems brings to light little known film gems which have somehow slipped through the collective cinematic consciousness. You’re welcome. This week Chinatown.
Jack Nicholson plays a private detective in Los Angeles in the thirties. He is investigating the death of a man connected to city corruption and a water shortage. Faye Dunaway stars as the femme fatale with a mysterious secret. And John Huston plays a landowner and politician who seems to have his fingers in all the pies.
It has all the ingredients of a great success, but alas resides now in a pile of dust topped with mouse droppings and orange peel. Why?
Well, Polish director Roman Polanski was arrested and charged with rape after the film’s release and everyone decided not to ever mention the film again. So that didn’t help matters. On its original release, the film had met with some confusion as Chinatown itself doesn’t really feature in the film – except for a brief final mention.
Roger Ebert wrote:
“Where’s the f*cking Chinatown? I hear a film is called Chinatown, I buy a ticket on the basis of that information and I spend all my time in orange groves and in the Los Angeles river and no f*cking Chinatown.”
Jack Nicholson however was pleased with his work. So much so that he directed a sequel called The Two Jakes. It was hugely famous and popular but very few people realize it was actually a sequel to the now neglected Chinatown.