Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB.
USA, 1974. Paramount Pictures, Penthouse, Long Road Productions, Robert Evans Company. Screenplay by Robert Towne. Cinematography by John A. Alonzo. Produced by Robert Evans. Music by Jerry Goldsmith. Production Design by Richard Sylbert. Costume Design by Anthea Sylbert. Film Editing by Sam O’Steen. Academy Awards 1974. Golden Globe Awards 1974. National Board of Review Awards 1974. New York Film Critics Awards 1974.
Robert Towne’s impeccable screenplay is the heart and soul of this excellent mystery film, though surrounding it with fantastic direction and pristine acting doesn’t hurt either. Jack Nicholson gives one of his most critically acclaimed performances as a private investigator who is dragged into a scheme involving murder and politics when he agrees to work for a woman (Diane Ladd) who wants her husband followed. When that woman turns up dead and he discovers that she was using an assumed name which actually belongs to someone else (Faye Dunaway), Nicholson decides to follow the ever-thickening plot to its inevitable conclusion despite the danger to himself. A perfect recreation of the film noirs of the forties, but with a modern beat of its own that thanks to director Roman Polanski only adds to its classic quality. Dunaway is superbly glamorous, and John Huston has a terrifying cameo as her father.