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You know what happens to nosy fellows?

Chinatown
(1974)

Polanski, Towne and Nicholson at the top of their games. Towne, in particular, he peaked early, settling on a lucrative career as script doctor. Polanski's direction is masterful, long takes that draw you into scenes in an unobtrusive fashion. 

Nicholson's Jake Gittes is so much the audience surrogate that the camera is frequently sits just over his shoulder (there's barely a shot that isn't from his POV, and he is present in every scene). The plot appears complex because we unravel it at the speed he does; once revealed it is quite straightforward. Faye Dunaway's never been better, while John Huston is an extraordinary presence as a self-justifying monster. There's a great cameo from the director ("You're a very nosy fellow, kitty-cat") in the nose-slicing scene. 

I watched the US Blu-ray for this viewing; penny-pinching Paramount left out all the extras in the UK. I didn't realise that Jerry Goldsmith was drafted in to do the score at the last minute (it's a beautiful piece of work). Mary Harron notes how it is Gittes vanity that sets in motion the inevitably downbeat conclusion (Dunaway could have left LA if not for his intervention, and it is his desire to prove how smart he is - he is one step behind for most of the film - that causes him not to prioritise her sufficiently in his plan). David Fincher, on the commentary track with a fairly subdued Robert Towne, is more in thrall to Gittes heroic qualities but as ever gives some of the best commentary around.

*****

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