Time changes things like the fruit stand that turns into a filling station. But the footprints and signs from the past are everywhere. They've been fighting over this land since the first Spanish missionaries showed the Indians the benefits of religion, horses, and a few years of forced labor. The Indians had it right all along. They respected ghosts. You can't forget the past any more than you can change it. Hearing Katherine Mulwray's name started me thinking about old secrets, family, property, and a guy doin' his partner dirt. Memories are like that - as unpredictable as nitro, and you never know what's gonna set one off. Like the clues that keep you on the right track are never where you look for them. They fall out of the pocket of somebody else's suit you pick up at the cleaners. They're in the tune you can't stop humming, that you never heard in your life. They're at the other end of the wrong number you dial in the middle of the night. The signs are in those old familiar places you only think you've never been before. But you get used to seeing them out of the corner of your eye, and you end up tripping over the ones that are right in front of you...
I'm trying to be a gentleman here. Now, get on your knees, put your ass in the air, and don't move until I say to.
You can't trust a guy who's never lost anything.
What I do for a living may not be very reputable. But I am. In this town I'm the leper with the most fingers.
You can follow the action, which gets you good pictures. You can follow your instincts, which'll probably get you in trouble. Or, you can follow the money, which nine times out of ten will get you closer to the truth.
Without my oil, you got no automobiles. Without automobiles, you got no road construction, no sidewalks, no city lights, no gas stations, no automotive service, and no Berman subdivision stuck out in the tules, because nobody can get there. Then Mr. Berman's out of business, before he even gets in business. The name of the game is oil, John.
Lawrence Walsh: Does that mean he wants you to prove your own client is guilty of murder?
Jake Gittes: Yeah.
Lawrence Walsh: Well, is that ethical?
Jake Gittes: Larry, he's a lawyer.
Khan: You are very successful.
Jake Gittes: Oh, I can't complain.
Khan: Does that mean you are happy?
Jake Gittes: Who can answer that question off the top of their head?
Khan: Anyone who's happy.
Jake Gittes: I wouldn't extort a nickel from my worst enemy. That's where I draw the line.
Det. Lt. Loach: Well, I'll tell you, Jake. I knew a whore once. For the right amount of money, she'd piss in a guy's face. But she wouldn't shit on his chest. You see, that's where she drew the line.
Jake Gittes: Well, Junior, all I can say is: I hope she wasn't too much of a disappointment to you.
Capt. Lou Escobar: How do you know he didn't have the gun with him?
Jake Gittes: Oh, I'd never frisk him before I let him walk in on his wife hanging on the headboard while some guy was slammin' her into the wall, Lou!
Kitty Berman: Does it ever go away?
Jake Gittes: What's that?
Kitty Berman: The past.
Jake Gittes: I think you have to work real hard on that one.
Jake Berman: Where were we?
Jake Gittes: Well, I was accusing you of murder, Mr. Berman.
Jake Berman: Call me Jake.
Jake Gittes: We're talkin' about oil here, right, Ty?
Tyrone Otley: Obviously. Mr. Rawley believes there's oil under the subdivision. He's endangering hundreds of lives drilling under those homes, with all the seismic activity. He's whipstocking! Someone has got to stop him!
Jake Gittes: Well, I can't do that, Ty. Nobody can. Guys like Rawley don't get arrested; they get streets named after them. In this type of situation, it's best just to leave it alone. Rawley's stealin' from Berman. It's a big thief stealin' from a little thief. Who are we to quarrel?
Det. Lt. Loach: Come on, Gittes. There you were, consorting with a known hoodlum under grand jury investigation... and known to be friendly with your client, Jake Berman.
Jake Gittes: So, what?
Det. Lt. Loach: So, either you were doing business with Mickey, or, uh...
Jake Gittes: Or what?
Plainclothes Policeman: We got a vice officer who swears you approached him and fondled his privates in the men's room.
[Loach breaks out laughing]
Jake Gittes: [to Policeman] How was it for you?
Francis Hannah: Isn't it a fact, Mr. Gittes, that you're out on bail, having been arrested at the Green Parrot Bar & Grill?
Cotton Weinberger: Wait a minute. Your Honor, the witness has been charged, not convicted.
Judge Alexander K. Dettmer: What's the charge?
Francis Hannah: The charge?
Judge Alexander K. Dettmer: Yes. The charge.
Francis Hannah: Well, that, uh, Mr. Gittes was fondling... the private parts of a vice officer in the Men's Room of the Green Parrot Bar & Grill.
[gasps and laughter fill the court room]
Cotton Weinberger: Objection, Your Honor.
Judge Alexander K. Dettmer: I'm with you, Mr. Weinberger. I have no idea what you thought you could do with this kind of evidence, Mr. Hannah. It certainly has no place in my court room. Do yourself a favor. The next time, you be sure you've got a case. That's about it for this hearing.