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Chinatown Film Analysis

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Roman Polanski is a controversial and multifaceted director, whose films are often overshadowed by personal tragedies the director has suffered with over the length of his film career. His film Chinatown, however, is able to tap into that great classic film noir quality of the cynical, hard-boiled detective, and the femme fatale that was popular from the 1940s to the late 1950s.

The cornerstone of which was “set by Dashiell Hammett, and its greatest practitioner was Raymond Chandler. To observe Humphrey Bogart in Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon (1941) and Chandler’s The Big Sleep (1946) is to see a fundamental type of movie character being born. A kind of man who processes human tragedy for a living” (Ebert 104). Though, unlike Bogart’s character style as a pessimistic detective, Jack Nicholson’s detective Gittes is less contemptuous and more likable as a person dealing with flawed clients, and shady individuals.

While made in the 1970s, this is indeed a stylish Hollywood crime drama laced with cynical personalities and sexual innuendo common to film noir. Chinatown, however, is cinematically more considered an American neo-noir mystery. The film is
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Polanski later relocated to England, once there he honed his craft, and directed “the psychological thriller Repulsion (1965), (which) was considered equally compelling by critics and audiences“ (Biography), and Cul-De-Sac (1966) the following year. Next, he directed himself in a horror comedy film starring Jack MacGowran and Sharon Tate. “The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967) caught the attention of producer Robert Evans, who chose Polanski to helm the supernatural thriller Rosemary’s Baby (1968), a massive hit with critics and audiences alike. In the wake of its success, Polanski’s wife Sharon Tate was brutally murdered in one of the most infamous rimes in U.S. history” (Schneider
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