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Year: 1974
Production Country: USA
Directed by: Roman Polanski
Featuring: Jack Nicholson / Faye Dunaway / John Huston / Burt Young / Roman Polanski / Diane Ladd / Perry Lopez / John Hillerman
Distributed by: BFI
Running time: 131min
Certificate: 15

Roman Polanski’s silky film noir starring Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway, now widely regarded as among the greatest of all American crime movies.

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Working from Robert Towne’s brilliant, resonant script about all manner of venality and corruption in 30s LA, Polanski fashioned a silky film noir now widely regarded as among the greatest of all American crime movies.

Jack Nicholson is at his very best as private eye Jake Gittes, increasingly out of his depth as what initially seems a straightforward divorce assignment for the wealthy and beautiful Evelyn Mulwray (Faye Dunaway) turns into something far more mysterious, wide-reaching and dangerous. John Alonzo’s meticulous Scope camerawork evokes a seductive, sun-filled paradise built upon and concealing unthinkably murky foundations, a labyrinthine netherworld shaped by greed, political ambition, racial inequality and illicit desire. Populated by an array of vivid characters played by a superb supporting cast that includes John Huston, Burt Young, Diane Ladd and – most memorably – the director himself, the city of angels is revealed to be a haven for monsters all too recognisably human. A dazzlingly intelligent film of great dramatic power and near-mythic import.

Geoff Andrew


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