Critic’s Choice: Still thrilling and disturbing, ‘Chinatown’ turns 45

Jack Nicholson in the 1974 movie “Chinatown.”
(Paramount Pictures)
Film Critic

Can it be 45 years since “Chinatown,” that most thrilling and disturbing of modern noirs, nominated for 11 Academy Awards, debuted? Yes, it can, and a screening and panel to commemorate the anniversary will take place June 27 at 7 p.m. at the Laemmle Royal Theatre.

Though it’s a tale squarely in the dark noir tradition, “Chinatown” manages to combine a serious historical theme detailing the story of water use in Los Angeles with the character-driven narrative it has in common with the best of Raymond Chandler’s detective stories.

Around this central core, Oscar-winning screenwriter Robert Towne, director Roman Polanski and stars Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway and John Huston have carefully woven more conventional themes such as solving a murder and understanding the motivations of a mysterious woman.

Talking about it all will be “Chinatown” actor Bruce Glover, assistant director Hawk Koch, and author Sam Wasson, who is working on a book on the films of the 1970s.


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