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.
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.
Academy Award: Best Original Screenplay
Nominations: Best Picture; Best Actor (Jack Nicholson); Best Actress (Faye Dunaway); Best Director (Roman Polanski); Best Cinematography; Best Art Direction; Best Costume Design; Best Film Editing; Best Sound; Best Original Dramatic Score
Golden Globe Awards: Best Picture-Drama; Best Actor-Drama (Jack Nicholson); Best Director (Roman Polanski); Best Screenplay
Nominations: Best Actress-Drama (Faye Dunaway); Best Supporting Actor (John Huston); Best Original Score