How does that old joke go: how many directors does it take to make a 70's social commentary movie? For our feature “Chinatown”, its takes three - well three on-screen, although you might not know it.
The first is “Chinatown” director Roman Polanski, who cameos as “Man with Knife” in the visceral scene where Jake Gittes (Jack Nicholson) gets his nose cut open. (It’s a gruesome scene critical to the story, and surely by now not a spoiler!). The scene was intricate enough that, according to rumour, Polanski felt he was best suited to manage the safety of the stunt: or maybe he just relished the small role as a Bad Guy.
Secondly, larger-than-life actor and director John Huston played the intimidating Noah Cross, in a manner close to his directorial persona. An accomplished director and actor with over 50 on-screen credits, we’re wondering how much advice he gave to the upstart Polanski behind the camera.
The infamous Jack Nicholson is well known for his acting roles, including 3 Oscar wins - but he also directed 3 features (not counting assisting with “Easy Rider” in 1969), most notably the erstwhile sequel to “Chinatown”, entitled “The Two Jakes”, in 1990.
“Chinatown” producer and screenwriter Robert Towne went on to direct a handful of features himself - but Towne also had a hand in running large swaths of Hollywood for 30+ years.https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/francis-coppola-honors-robert-towne-711178
Perhaps all this expert guidance helped elevate “Chinatown” to 19th on AFI’s top 100 movies.
Featuring little-known films and blockbusters alike, Saturday Night Cinema has been entertaining KSPS audiences since 1985. Enjoy dramas, comedies, mysteries, musicals and more; with film introduction and commentary by KSPS hosts: Shaun O’L. Higgins, Ryan Tucker, Mikayla Daniels, and our movie maverick, Mike Hoff.