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The Devil In The Detail: Thoughts On 'Chinatown' On Its 40th Anniversary

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • June 18, 2014 4:00 PM
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Chinatown Nicholson B/W
I still remember the first time I ever saw a two-dollar bill. It was in a wallet, on a TV screen in the living room of my childhood home. The wallet belonged to a dead woman called Ida Sessions, and it was Jack Nicholson who was riffling through it: Social Security Card; Screen Actors Guild Membership; two-dollar bill. I was maybe 12 or 13 and had never even set foot in America, but like anyone in the English-speaking world who watched way too many movies, I felt I knew the country like the back of my hand. Certainly its currency, which seemed more like real money than the colorful, monopoly notes we used, so often had I seen it brimming out of briefcases, left contemptuously on nightstands or fluttering down like green confetti after an explosion. But I had never seen a two-dollar bill, so that, of all things, was the detail that snagged my attention the first time I watched Roman Polanski’s “Chinatown.”

5 Things You Might Not Know About Roman Polanski's 'Chinatown'

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • June 20, 2012 12:00 PM
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Is there such a thing as a perfect film? Perhaps. You could certainly argue that personal taste plays into the question of perfection too much -- one man's triumph is another's disaster. And even so, there are so many possible things that can go wrong with a film -- one duff performance, one ill-conceived shot, one poorly-written scene -- that it's almost an impossible task. But dammit if we don't consider "Chinatown" to be as close as you can get to being perfect.

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