CHINATOWN (USA, 1974, 131 min.)
With a plot based in part on real events that formed the California Water Wars, this classic film, screened in 35 mm, is set during a serious drought in Los Angeles. A private investigator, Jake Gittes, is hired to spy on Hollis Mulwray, the chief engineer for the city’s water department, who spends most of his time investigating dry river beds. When Mulwray is found dead, clues suggest a scandal in the city government. Despite the drought and an expensive proposal to build a new dam, the Water and Power Department is dumping fresh water into the ocean at night. Following clues, Gittes begins to unravel the scandal. He suspects that Hollis was murdered because he discovered that portions of the city’s water supply were being dumped into run-off channels in order to create a drought and build support for the new reservoir. Officials from the Water Department have been poisoning the wells, forcing farmers off their land so they can buy it cheap, after which a newly built and controversial dam and water system would start directing much of L.A.’s water supply to that land, dramatically increasing its value. Featuring a cameo appearance by director Roman Polanski, the film stars Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway and John Huston. Written by Robert Towne, directed by Roman Polanski and produced by Robert Evans. Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, 1975.
Introduced by film historian Max Alvarez.
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