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Chinatown

Year: 1974
Studio: Paramount
Director: Roman Polanski
Producer: Robert Evans
Writer: Robert Towne
Cast: Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Huston, Roman Polanski, James Hong
The benchmark for film noir, starring some of the biggest personalities both in front of and behind the camera such as legendary screenwriter Robert Towne and notorious producer Bob Evans.

Like all the best of the genre, a seemingly innocuous crime in the seedy underbelly of a classic noir location (1940s Los Angeles) reveals a deep-level conspiracy involving the city's water supply.

There's a dame (Dunaway) who's more trouble than she seems, a two-bit gumshoe (Nicholson) in over his head but with a hard-boiled resilience that lets him wallow deep in it, and a cast of shady hangers on and standover men with dangerous secrets to keep.

Repeated watching would undoubtedly turn up a dozen sacred institutions of style and genre that make it the classic it is now, but if you're new to it, it'll be another one of those film you'll wonder what all the fuss is about.

Like most classics, the fuss was because it was the first one to get the idea right, and plenty have tried in its wake that, if you've already seen them, will seem just as adept with the same thing.

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