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Comparing ChinaTown and the Big Sleep Essay

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Comparing ChinaTown and the Big Sleep

ChinaTown, directed by Roman Polanski, is a non-traditional hard-nosed detective film made in the 70's. The typical elements of character type are there; J.J. Gittes (a private detective in LA) played by Jack Nicholson is the central character, sharing the spotlight is Fay Dunaway playing the femme fatale Evelyn Mulwray. This film breaks all types of norms when compared to the hard-nosed detective films it is modeled after. The film is filled with allusions to the Big Sleep, especially taken from scenes of Marlowe and Vivian. Chinatown has formal elements indicative that it is going to be in the style of traditional Film Noir hardboiled detective, until you examine the characters' personalities
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While he tells the off color joke is the real Evelyn Mulwray , standing behind him waiting with her lawyer.

This would have never happened to Marlowe. Gattis looked like a fool.

Gettis couldn't get a one-liner right if his nose depended on it. Throughout the film Gettis is screwing up jokes or lines that were meant to be sharp and humorous. In opposition to Gettis, Marlowe is socially smooth and rather witty. You could almost say Gettis is clumsy and crass. The impression we are left with about Gettis is normalizing. Gettis loses the stature that comes with a protagonist filled with bravado. He comes off kind of plain, almost corny, a regular guy.

As a detective Gettis has done very well by himself. He has Venetian blinds in his office, wears a well-tailored white suit and seems to be wealthy from his trade. In contrast, Marlowe from the Big Sleep is barely getting by with P.I. work. It is implied that he isn't materialistic and it wouldn't out of character for him to do work

Pro bono. Gettis is a P.I. known mostly for divorce work (catching adultery) and spying on the unsuspecting. As a protagonist he doesn't come off very ethical. Polanski didn't make a character the audience would love right off the bat. Supplying Curly with pictures of his wife's adultery in the opening scene doesn't paint Gettis into a picture of the model for ethics.

Eveylyn Mulwray is no Vivian in the Big Sleep. Although
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