I’ll start by saying. I know nothing about Chinatown (the movie) going in (check out the preview on the side bar thingie-ma-jig). It’s one of the few on the Ultimate Rankatron list that I’ve never seen…and quite frankly, have never heard of before creating the list. But it appeared on so many others it couldn’t be excluded.
Before hearing about this praised classic sleuth flick, the only movies about Chinatown I can recall is Jackie Chan’s Rush Hour and this little one (possibly the most underrated action movie from the 80s):
So I realized immediately that I’d need to do some more digging to get to up my knowledge like China’s population base. Naturally, I begin my search on the YouTube and Carl Douglas’ Kung Fu Fighting with funky Chinamen from funky Chinatown:
Then there’s the Steve Nash Charity Showdown in Chinatown NYC in 2008, and this video which is beyond description…
After more time than I’d like to admit, I realized I was no closer to understanding the movie Chinatown than I was before. So thanks to some clever Infotron searching, here are the stats of the movie:
- A film-noir released in 1974
- Starring Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway and John Huston
- Directed by Roman Polanski (Rosemary’s Baby, Tess and The Pianist)
- The movie that made Nicholson a household name and earned him the ability to garner sweet courtside Lakers seats.
- Nominated for 11 Oscars in 1974 but only won for Best Original Screenplay.
- Spawned a lukewarm sequel, The Two Jakes, in 1990 which featured Nicholson again as both star and director.
- Jack Nicholson appears in every single scene of the movie.
- Roman Polanski has a cameo as a gangster that cuts Nicholson’s character’s nose.
- The original the musical score had been rejected last minute before the final cut of the movie was due. The studio hired Jerry Goldsmith (LA Confidential, Gremlins, Poltergeist) to rewrite and record Chinatown Theme solos in less than 10 days resulting in an Oscar nomination for Best Original Score.
- Often hailed by critics as the best script ever written.
- Other awards: Golden Globe wins for Best Motion Picture (Drama), Best Actor in a Motion Picture (Jack Nicholson), Best Director (Roman Polanski) and Best Screenplay (Robert Towne)
- #2 on AFI’s Best 10 Mystery Movies (right behind Vertigo).
So I am somewhat excited to see what the brou-ha-ha is all about. Time to take a leisurely ride into Chinatown through the eyes of JJ Gittes.