Chinatown (1974 film)

1974 film directed by Roman Polański
(Redirected from Chinatown)

Chinatown is a 1974 film about a private investigator hired to expose an adultery case, but his investigation turns into a mystery of elements: murder, betrayal, and water.

Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown.
You know what happens to nosy fellows?
Yelburton: Oh, you ought to be more careful. That must really smart.
Gittes: Only when I breathe.
You've got a nasty reputation, Mr. Gittes. I like that.
Directed by Roman Polanski. Written by Robert Towne.

J. J. "Jake" Gittes

  • Listen, pal. I make an honest living. People only come to me when they're in a desperate situation. I help 'em out. I don't kick families out of their houses like you bums down at the bank do.
  • So there's this guy Walsh, do you understand? He's tired of screwin' his wife... So his friend says to him, "Hey, why don't you do it like the Chinese do?" So he says, "How do the Chinese do it?" And the guy says, "Well, the Chinese, first they screw a little bit, then they stop, then they go and read a little Confucius, come back, screw a little bit more, then they stop again, and then they go out and they contemplate the moon or something like that. Makes it more exciting". So now, the guy goes home and he starts screwin' his own wife, see. So he screws her for a little bit and then he stops, and he goes out of the room and reads Life magazine. Then he goes back in, he starts screwin' again. He says, "Excuse me for a minute, honey". He goes out and he smokes a cigarette. Now his wife is gettin' sore as hell. He comes back in the room, he starts screwin' again. He gets up to start to leave again to go look at the moon. She looks at him and says, "Hey, whats the matter with ya. You're screwin' just like a Chinaman!" [Laughs hysterically]
  • [To Lt. Lou Escobar] You're dumber than you think I think you are.
  • [To Escobar, mocking him] Come on, Lou, you're in charge. Make a decision.


  • Morty: In the middle of a drought and the water commissioner drowns! Only in L.A.
  • Man with Knife: You're a very nosy fellow, kitty cat. Huh? You know what happens to nosy fellows? Huh? No? Wanna guess? Huh? No? Okay. They lose their noses. [flicks knife, cutting open Jake's nostril] Next time you lose the whole thing. Cut it off and feed it to my goldfish. Understand? Understand!?
  • Lawrence Walsh: Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown.


Curly: She's just no good.
Gittes: What can I tell you, kid? You're right. When you're right, you're right, and you're right.

Evelyn: I've never hired you to do anything, certainly not to spy on my husband. I see you like publicity, Mr. Gittes. Well, you're going to get it.
Gittes: Now wait a minute, Mrs. Mulwray. I think there's been some misunderstanding here. There's no point in getting tough with me. I'm just trying--
Evelyn: I don't get tough with anyone, Mr. Gittes. My lawyer does.

Yelburton: After you've worked with a man a certain length of time, you come to know his habits, his values - you come to know him - and either he's the kind who chases after women or he isn't.
Gittes: Mulwray isn't?
Yelburton: He never even kids about it.
Gittes: Well, maybe he takes it very seriously.

Gittes: Mulvihill! What are you doing here?
Mulvihill: They shut my water off. What's it to you?
Gittes: How'd you find out about it? You don't drink it; you don't take a bath in it... They wrote you a letter. But then you have to be able to read.

Gittes: I'm not in business to be loved, but I am in business. And believe me, Mrs. Mulwray, whoever set your husband up set me up. LA's a small town, people talk. I'm just trying to make a living. I don't want to become a local joke.
Evelyn: Mr. Gittes. You talked me into it. I'll drop the lawsuit.
Gittes: What?
Evelyn: I said I'll drop the lawsuit. So let's just drop the whole thing.
Gittes: I don't want to drop it. I'd better talk to your husband about this.
Evelyn: Why? What on earth for? Hollis seems to think you're an innocent man.
Gittes: Well, I've been accused of a lot of things before, Mrs. Mulwray, but never that. Look. Somebody's gone to a lot of trouble here and lawsuit or no lawsuit, I intend to find out. I'm not supposed to be the one who's caught with his pants down. So unless it's a problem, I'd like to talk to your husband.
Evelyn: Why should it be a problem?
Gittes: May I speak frankly, Mrs. Mulwray?
Evelyn: Only if you can, Mr. Gittes.
Gittes: Well, that little girlfriend. She was pretty in a cheap sort of a way, of course. She's disappeared. Maybe they disappeared together.
Evelyn: Suppose they did. How does that affect you?
Gittes: It's nothing personal, Mrs. Mulwray.
Evelyn: It's very personal. It couldn't be more personal. Is this a business or an obsession with you?

Escobar: So, tell me Gittes, how'd you get past the guard?
Gittes: Well, to tell you the truth, I lied a little.

Escobar: You look like you've done well by yourself.
Gittes: I get by.
Escobar: Well, sometimes it takes a while for a man to find himself. Maybe you have.
Loach: Yeah, goin' through other people's dirty linen.
Gittes: Yeah. Tell me. You still puttin' Chinamen in jail for spittin' in the laundry?
Escobar: You're a little behind the times, Jake. They use steam irons now. And I'm out of Chinatown.
Gittes: Since when?
Escobar: Since I made Lieutenant.
Gittes: Congratulations.

Escobar: [pointing to a scribbled note on the wall] Isn't that your phone number?
Gittes: Is it? I forget. I don't call myself that often.

Escobar: You must really think I’m stupid, don’t you, Gittes?
Gittes: I don’t think about it that much, but give me a day or two and I’ll get back to you.

Gittes: [on the phone] Hello, Miss Sessions. I don't believe we've had the pleasure."
Ida Sessions: Oh, yes we have. Are you alone?
Gittes: Isn't everybody?

Evelyn: Tell me, Mr. Gittes: Does this often happen to you?
Gittes: What's that?
Evelyn: Well, I'm judging only on the basis of one afternoon and an evening, but, uh, if this is how you go about your work, I'd say you'd be lucky to, uh, get through a whole day.
Gittes: Actually, this hasn't happened to me for a long time.
Evelyn: When was the last time?
Gittes: Why?
Evelyn: It's an innocent question.
Gittes: In Chinatown.
Evelyn: What were you doing there?
Gittes: Working for the District Attorney.
Evelyn: Doing what?
Gittes: As little as possible.
Evelyn: The District Attorney gives his men advice like that?
Gittes: They do in Chinatown.

Gittes: Something else besides the death of your husband was bothering you. You were upset, but not that upset.
Evelyn: Mr. Gittes. Don't tell me how I feel.
Gittes: Sorry. Look. You sue me. Your husband dies. You drop the lawsuit like a hot potato all of it quicker than the wind from a duck's ass. Excuse me, uh. Then you ask me to lie to the police.
Evelyn: It wasn't much of a lie.
Gittes: If your husband was killed, it was. This could look like you paid me off to withhold evidence.
Evelyn: But he wasn't killed.
Gittes: Mrs. Mulwray. I think you're hiding something.
Evelyn: Well, I suppose I am. Actually, I knew about the affair.
Gittes: How did you find out?
Evelyn: My husband.
Gittes: He told you? [She nods yes] And you weren't the least bit upset?
Evelyn: I was grateful.
Gittes: Mrs. Mulwray, you'll have to explain that.
Evelyn: Why?
Gittes: Look. I do matrimonial work. It's my métier. When a wife tells me that she's happy that her husband is cheating on her, it runs contrary to my experience.
Evelyn: Unless what?
Gittes: She was cheating on him. Were you?
Evelyn: I dislike the word cheat.
Gittes: Did you have affairs?
Evelyn: Mr. Gittes.
Gittes: Did he know about it?
Evelyn: Well, I wouldn't run home and tell him every time I went to bed with someone, if that's what you mean. Is there anything else you want to know about me?
Gittes: Where were you when your husband died?
Evelyn: I can't tell you.
Gittes: You mean you don't know where you were?
Evelyn: I mean I can't tell you.
Gittes: You were seeing someone too. For very long?
Evelyn: I don't see anyone for very long, Mr. Gittes. It's difficult for me. Now, I think you know all you need know about me. I didn't want publicity. I didn't want to go into any of this then or now. Is that all?
Gittes: [After nodding yes, he remembers to ask one final question, holding up the envelope with initials "E C" for a return address] Oh, by the way, uh, what does this C stand for?
Evelyn: Cr...Cross.
Gittes: That's your maiden name?
Evelyn: Yes. Why?
Gittes: No reason.
Evelyn: You must have had a reason to ask me that.
Gittes: No. I'm just a snoop.
Gittes: OK, go home, but in case you're interested, your husband was murdered. Somebody's been dumping thousands of tons of water from the city's reservoirs and we're supposed to be in the middle of a drought. He found out about it and he was killed. There's a waterlogged drunk in the morgue, involuntary manslaughter if anybody wants to take the trouble - which they don't. It seems like half the city is trying to cover it all up, which is fine by me. But Mrs. Mulwray, I goddamned near lost my nose. And I like it. I like breathing through it. And I still think that you're hiding something.

Yelburton: My goodness, what happened to your nose?
Gittes: Cut myself shavin'.
Yelburton: Oh, you ought to be more careful. That must really smart.
Gittes: Only when I breathe.

Cross: You've got a nasty reputation, Mr. Gittes. I like that.
Gittes: Thanks.
Cross: If you were a bank president, that would be one thing. But in your business it's admirable and it's good advertising.
Gittes: It doesn't hurt.
Cross: It's, um, why you attracted a client like my daughter.
Gittes: Probably.
Cross: But I'm surprised you're still working for her - unless she's suddenly come up with another husband.
Gittes: No. She happens to think the last one was murdered.
Cross: Umm, how'd she get that idea?
Gittes: I think I gave it to her.
Cross: [about the fish served for lunch] I hope you don't mind. I believe they should be served with the head.
Gittes: Fine. As long as you don't serve the chicken that way.

Cross: Gittes. You're dealing with a disturbed woman who's just lost her husband. I don't want her taken advantage of. Sit down.
Gittes: What for?
Cross: You may think you know what you're dealing with, but believe me, you don't. [Gittes smiles] Why is that funny?
Gittes: It's what the district attorney used to tell me in Chinatown.
Cross: Yeah? Was he right? Exactly what do you know about me? Sit down.
Gittes: Mainly that you're rich, and too respectable to want your name in the newspapers.
Cross: Course I'm respectable. I'm old. Politicians, ugly buildings, and whores all get respectable if they last long enough.

Loach: What happened to your nose, Gittes? Somebody slam a bedroom window on it?
Gittes: Nope, your wife got excited. She crossed her legs a little too quick. You understand what I mean, pal?

Gittes: A memorial service was held at the Mar Vista Inn today for Jasper Lamar Crabb. He passed away two weeks ago.
Evelyn: Why is that unusual?
Gittes: He passed away two weeks ago and one week ago he bought the land. That's unusual.

Gittes: [referring to the bifocals] I found these in your backyard in the pond. They belonged to your husband, didn’t they? Didn’t they?
Evelyn: I don’t know. Yes, probably.
Gittes: Yes, positively! It’s where he was drowned.
Evelyn: [in disbelief] What?
Gittes: There's no time to be shocked by the truth. The coroner's report proves that he had salt water in his lungs when he was killed. Just take my word for it, all right? Now, I want to know how it happened, and I want to know why, and I want to know before Escobar gets here because I don't want to lose my license.
Evelyn: I don’t know what you’re talking about! I mean this is the craziest, the most insane—
[Gittes shakes Evelyn]
Gittes: Stop it! I want to make it easy for ya. You were jealous. You had a fight. He fell. He hit his head. It was an accident but his girl is a witness. So you had to shut her up. You don't have the guts to harm her, but you got the money to keep her mouth shut. Yes or no?
Evelyn: No!
Gittes: Who is she? And don't give me that crap about your sister because you don't have a sister.
Evelyn: I'll tell you. I'll tell you the truth.
Gittes: Good. What's her name?
Evelyn: Katherine.
Gittes: Katherine who?
Evelyn: She's my daughter.
[Gittes slaps Evelyn.]
Gittes: I said I want the truth.
Evelyn: She's my sister.
[He slaps her again.]
Evelyn: She's my daughter.
[Another slap.]
Evelyn: My sister, my daughter.
[Two more slaps.]
Gittes: I said I want the truth!
Evelyn: She's my sister and my daughter!
[Evelyn’s butler, alerted by their screaming, comes downstairs]
Evelyn: Kahn! No, please! Go back! For God’s sake, keep her upstairs! Go back!
[The butler goes back upstairs]
Evelyn: My father and I.... Understand? Or is it too tough for you?
[Gittes stares as her as she breaks down crying]

Cross: What does it mean?
Gittes: That you killed Hollis Mulwray - right here - in that pond. You drowned him, and you left these [the bifocals]. Coroner's report shows Mulwray had saltwater in his lungs.
Cross: Hollis was always fascinated by tidepools. You know what he used to say?...That's where life begins. Sloughs, tidepools. When he first come out here, he figured if you dumped water into the desert sand and let it percolate down to the bedrock, it would stay there instead of evaporate the way it does in most reservoirs. You only lose 20% instead of 70 or 80. He made this city.
Gittes: That's what you were going to do in the valley.
Cross: That's what I am doing. If the bond issue passes Tuesday, there'll be eight million dollars to build an aqueduct and reservoir. I'm doing it.
Gittes: Gonna be a lot of irate citizens when they find out that they're paying for water that they're not gonna get.
Cross: Oh, that's all taken care of. You see, Mr. Gits. Either you bring the water to LA or you bring LA to the water.
Gittes: How you gonna do that?
Cross: By incorporating the valley into the city. Simple as that.
Gittes: How much are you worth?
Cross: I've no idea. How much do you want?
Gittes: I just want to know what you're worth. Over ten million?
Cross: Oh my, yes!
Gittes: Why are you doing it? How much better can you eat? What can you buy that you can't already afford?
Cross: The future, Mr. Gits - the future! Now where's the girl? I want the only daughter I've got left. As you found out, Evelyn was lost to me a long time ago.
Gittes: Who do you blame for that - her?
Cross: I don't blame myself. You see, Mr. Gits, most people never have to face the fact that at the right time, the right place, they're capable of anything.

Gittes: Evelyn, put that gun away. Let the police handle this.
Evelyn: He owns the police!


Wikipedia has an article about: