THE FILM: "The Two Jakes"
THE SET UP: In this sequel to "Chinatown," private eye Jake Gittes (Jack Nicholson, pictured) lives the high life in 1949, 15 years after getting his nose slashed and his heart shattered while snooping through a case of incest and water rights. This time, a kinder, gentler Gittes investigates a murder of passion committed by Jake Berman (Harvey Keitel) and ends up in a potboiler whose main themes are nostalgia, lust and oil rights. As the plot floats along, the new, improved Jake Gittes faces some ghosts from the "Chinatown" attic.
THE LOOK: Costumer Wayne Finkelman created subdued vintage styles. "We avoided making the suits into costumes," he says. Nicholson's and Keitel's wardrobes are the stuff that flea market habitues die for. Nicholson's look features cool blue double-breasted suits with big shoulders and large lapels. "It's almost a zoot suit look," Finkelman notes. "But he's not a fashion plate. We stuck to demure fabrics, glen plaids and such, for a very loose, classic look." Keitel's color scheme focuses on sand colors and adds a bit more flash with the addition of bright vintage ties. Like the "Jakes" script, the clothes never let us forget the past. Says Finkelman, "We kept Jake Gittes' original hat from 'Chinatown' . . . it is his personal trademark." Nicholson nows owns the hat.
THE STORES: Finkelman's staff came across a warehouse full of '40s Dior knockoffs. Western Costume provided much of the period dress while Los Angeles vintage retail stores, Repeat Performance and Lily's on Third, rounded out the film's impressive wardrobe. Finkelman even took contributions from the private sector. "We got a lot of rare accessories from ladies in Beverly Hills. Hats and crocodile handbags and things they hadn't worn in 30 years."
THE LABELS: Like the men's clothing, the women's dresses provided some beautiful flashbacks. Leading lady Meg Tilly (Kitty Berman) slinks about in a vintage Elsa Schiaparelli printed in a surrealistic pattern of gloves and bows. Madeleine Stowe's (Lilian Bowdine) peach-color Angora sweater holds special significance in the movie's curvy plot. But the tell-tale Angora fluff on Nicholson's collar didn't show up on film. So, Finkelman took the sheddings of two on-set cats, dyed it peach and used that for the guilty Angora.