Movie Information

The Asheville Film Society will screen Chinatown Tuesday, April 26, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge of The Carolina Asheville, and will be hosted by Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther. Hanke is the artistic director of the AFS.
Genre: Neo-noir Mystery Thriller
Director: Roman Polanski
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Huston, Perry Lopez, John Hillerman
Rated: R

Chinatown ranks as the 19th greatest movie of all time on the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 best movies. Robert Towne’s screenplay was just voted number three on the Writers Guild of America’s top 101 screenplays. The movie is also frequently cited as Roman Polanski’s best film. I’m not quite sold on those claims, but I cite them as some kind of barometer of the esteem in which the film is held. It was picked to close out this month’s AFS screenings because of the surprising number of people who remarked that they’d never seen it when the plot of Rango—and the character of the duplicitous mayor—was pointed out as being taken from Chinatown. Regardless of how highly you regard the film, it’s an unarguable classic. It’s a perfect depiction of 1930s Los Angeles. It’s an intriguing mystery thriller. It shows both Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway at their very best—and John Huston at his most enjoyably ripe. It’s also quite probably the first—and still the best, with the possible exception of the Coens’ Miller’s Crossing—of the neo-noir movies. Beyond that, and despite its defeatist noir tone, it’s one of those pictures that can only be called a “crowd pleaser.”

Also check out the earlier review:

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress since December 2000. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

3 thoughts on “Chinatown

  1. I adore this film completely. See it Ashevillains!

    If you’ve ever wanted to see Jack Nicholson play Sam Spade, this is your chance.

  2. Dionysis

    One of my favorite movie lines of all time is from this film; the scene where Roman Polanski first shows up and Jack Nicholson asks “where’d ya get the midget?”

  3. Ken Hanke

    I’ve always been partial to “Son of a bitch, goddam Florsheim shoe.”

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