Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Chinatown (1974)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Chinatown (1974)

In director Roman Polanski's great neo-noir detective story set in the late 1930s Los Angeles - a dark tale of murder, incest, infidelity, and the deadly acquisition of water rights:

  • detective Jake Gittes' (Jack Nicholson) inappropriate and crude joke told in his office about a Chinaman (with the punchline: "You're screwin' just like a Chinaman"), without realizing that a prospective female client, the cool and regal Mrs. Evelyn Mulwray (Faye Dunaway), was standing within earshot
  • the shocking discovery of the body of Hollis Mulwray (without his glasses), (Darrell Zwerling), the well-known chief engineer of L.A. city's "Water and Power" Company - and the victim of an apparent accidental drowning
  • the night-time slitting of impulsive detective Jake's nose with a switchblade (by director Roman Polanski): ("You're a very nosy fellow, kitty-cat, huh? You know what happens to nosy fellows? Huh, no? Want to guess? Huh, no? OK. They lose their noses. (Jake's nose gushed blood after a sharp flick of the knife.) Next time you lose the whole thing. (I) cut if off and feed it to my goldfish. Understand? Understand!?"), and Gittes' sporting of a bandaged nose for the remainder of the film
  • Jake's first meeting during a lunch conversation at the Albacore Club with corrupt and perverse tycoon Noah Cross (John Huston), who carelessly and repeatedly mispronounced his name and when he was told: ("You may think you know what you're dealing with, but believe me, you don't... 'Course I'm respectable. I'm old. Politicians, ugly buildings, and whores all get respectable if they last long enough")
  • the celebrated scene of beautiful and wealthy, troubled newly-widowed client Evelyn Mulwray repeatedly being slapped by Gittes and revealing the scandalous truth about the young and enigmatic Katherine (Belinda Palmer) that she was hiding: "She's my daughter... She's my sister. She's my daughter. My sister, my daughter ...She's my sister and my daughter!...My father and I - understand? Or is it too tough for you?"
  • another conversation between Gittes and Noah Cross, who explained his business aspirations and motivations - while denying his obvious greed and ruthlessness: ("The future, Mr. Gits - the future!...You see, Mr. Gittes, most people never have to face the fact that at the right time and the right place, they're capable of anything!")
  • the tragic ending in Chinatown and confrontation between Cross, Gittes, and Evelyn, and the tragic shooting of Evelyn in the back of the head as she drove away in a car, and her daughter Katherine was shielded from viewing the gruesomeness by her incestuous father Noah: ("Lord, Oh Lord, don't look, don't look!")
Evelyn's Tragic Death in Chinatown: Conclusion
  • the haunting closing line: "Forget it, Jake, it's Chinatown"

Gittes' Crude Chinaman Joke

Hollis Mulwray's Corpse

Gittes' Nose-Slitting by Thugs: "Nosy Fellows"

At the Albacore Club - Noah Cross to Gittes: "'Course I'm respectable"

Jake's Romance with Evelyn Mulwray
(Faye Dunaway)

Evelyn's Startling Revelation: "My sister, my daughter!"

Noah Cross to Jake: "Capable of Anything!"


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