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Directed by: Roman Polanski
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway
Roman Polanski’s defining noir is exceptional because screenwriter Robert Towne (“Bonnie and Clyde,” “Tequila Sunrise”) tells a credible story. LA cop-turned- detective Jack Gittes (Jack Nicholson) is hired by a woman to spy on her cheating husband. Gittes is lax and disillusioned. He hardly convinces his himself, let alone his clients. But when Gittes embarrassingly discovers the woman in his office wasn’t the real Evelyn Mulwray, he’s kicked into gear. The actual Evelyn Mulwray (Faye Dunaway) demands he drop the case. Intrigued by her, he’s won't. The deeper he probes, the more 1930s L.A. seems like what it was, a frontier morass of special interests and skimming. Every performance is classy, and even Polanski gets involved. It’s all silk, smoke, and heartbreak, with Nicholson and Dunaway doing some of the best work of their careers. See this on a double-bill with “L.A. Confidential.”Reviewed by: Claude Xavier-Garri