Beautiful, widescreen story of water and power in early Los Angeles. Jake (Nicholson) plays an ex-cop who's now a private investigator. He is asked to see if a powerful married man is having an affair by the man's wife. Soon the man turns up dead and the wife turns out to be an imposter. There are plenty of twists and turns in the plot, and we always want to know what the payoff will be at the end. The look of the film is spectacular, with the golden hue of the time when L.A. was crystal clear, and water was first found to be the most valuable resource.

Nicholson carries the weight of the film on his shoulders perfectly. He plays most of the film behind a huge nose bandage. He is suspicious and insightful and a little crass, but always charismatic. Dunaway is a bit too cold to be a dream girl, but a dream girl isn't what the script requires. Huston is slimy. The biggest surprise of the film must have been a doozy in 1974, but modern audiences have seen and heard it all before, so the impact isn't quite as powerful. Still, it is an intriguing story, shot beautifully, with a fabulous cast.

Shown at the Mighty Castro Theater in San Francisco as part of the Library Of Congress Film Registry Tour.

Jake Gittes ... Jack Nicholson [Easy Rider, Tommy, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, The Shining, Reds, The Postman Always Rings Twice, Terms Of Endearment, Prizzi's Honor, Ironweed, Broadcast News, The Witches Of Eastwick, Batman, A Few Good Men, Hoffa, Wolf, The Crossing Guard, Blood & Wine, As Good As It Gets]
Evelyn Cross Mulwray ... Faye Dunaway [The Towering Inferno, Three Days Of The Condor, Network, Barfly, The Handmaid's Tale, The Temp, Don Juan DeMarco]
Noah Cross ... John Huston [High Sierra, The Battle Of San Pietro, The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre, Prizzi's Honor, The Dead]
Escobar ... Perry Lopez
Yelburton ... John Hillerman [The Last Picture Show, "One Day At A Time", Audrey Rose]
Hollis Mulwray ... Darrell Zwerling ["The Boy In The Plastic Bubble", High Anxiety, Grease, Joe Versus The Volcano, Wild At Heart]
Ida Sessions ... Diane Ladd [Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, Wild At Heart, Rambling Rose, A Kiss Before Dying, The Cemetary Club]
Man With Knife ... Roman Polanski
Irate Farmer ... Rance Howard [Ron's father, The Music Man, Cool Hand Luke, Eat My Dust!, Splash, Cocoon, Gung Ho, Innerspace, Listen To Me, Parenthood, "Seinfeld", Far And Away, Fearless, The Paper, Ed Wood, Apollo 13, Independence Day, Traveller]
Curly ... Burt Young [Rocky, Convoy, Rocky II, Rocky III, The Pope Of Greenwich Village, Once Upon A Time In America, Rocky IV, Back To School, Last Exit To Brooklyn, Betsy's Wedding, Rocky V]
Cinematography by John A. Alonzo [Harold And Maude, The Bad News Bears, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, Norma Rae, Scarface, Blue Thunder, Nothing In Common, Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling, Steel Magnolias, Internal Affairs, Visions Of Light: The Art Of Cinematography, Housesitter]
Edited by Sam O'Steen [The Graduate, Cool Hand Luke, Silkwood, Working Girl, Biloxi Blues, Frantic, A Dry White Season, Postcards From The Edge, Regarding Henry, Consenting Adults, Wolf]
Written by Robert Towne [The Godfather, Orca, Heaven Can Wait, The Pick-up Artist, Days Of Thunder, The Firm, Love Affair (94), Mission: Impossible]
Directed by Roman Polanski [Repulsion, Frantic, Lunes de fiel (Bitter Moon), Death And The Maiden]

131 minutes

This Was Written January 23, 1998

10 Ebert
10 Maltin
10 Videohound

~~Best Picture Of 1974 -- Academy Award Nomination
~~Best Director Of 1974 For Roman Polanski -- Academy Award Nomination, British Academy Award Winner
~~Best Screenplay Of 1974 For Robert Towne -- Academy Award Winner
~~Best Actor Of 1974 For Jack Nicholson -- Academy Award Nomination, British Academy Award Winner, New York Film Critics Winner, National Society Of Film Critics Winner
~~Best Actress Of 1974 For Faye Dunaway -- Academy Award Nomination
~~Best Cinematography Of 1974 For John A. Alonzo -- Academy Award Nomination
~~Best Editing Of 1974 For Sam O'Steen -- Academy Award Nomination
~~National Film Registry 1991

Comments & Corrections

copyright © 2000 Michael Warner Cummins
Most recent update: 11/1/00
For more information contact webmaster