California droughts have led to restrictions and sanctions on water usage. Beyond the personal and lifestyle changes residents have been forced to make, these droughts have had massive impacts on California’s agriculture business and the livelihood of thousands of farm workers. To say water is a coveted commodity in California would be an understatement. In fact, a mystery revolving around LA’s water supply seems like the perfect setting for a noir movie. Look no further, it’s Chinatown.
The 1974 movie, Chinatown, set in 1937 LA, stars Jack Nicholson as J.J. “Jake” Gittes, a private investigator who is hired by the beautiful Evelyn Mulwray, played by Faye Dunaway, to investigate her husband, the chief engineer for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. As the movie is a noir mystery, spoiling more of the plot would ruin the intrigue the movie masterfully creates.
Chinatown was directed by Roman Polanski, who also has a cutting cameo in one of the film's most memorable moments. The Oscar winning script was written by Robert Towne, who also later wrote the Jack Nicholson directed sequel to Chinatown, The Two Jakes.
The film has received immense accolades since its original release. The setting, combined with the music, wonderful acting, and screenplay, create one of the greatest detective movies ever made. Essential, it is hard to resist a detective in a fedora walking around to jazz music. Tune in next Thursday when film critic Garen Daly will join BPR for another cinema classic challenge to discuss whether Chinatown stands up as a classic or has it dried up.