Chinatown is a 1974 American neo-noir mystery film directed by Roman Polanski from a screenplay by Robert Towne, starring Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway. The film was inspired by the California water wars, a series of disputes over southern California water at the beginning of the 20th century, by which Los Angeles interests secured water rights in the Owens Valley. The Robert Evans production, released by Paramount Pictures, was the director's last film in the United States and features many elements of film noir, particularly a multi-layered story that is part mystery and part psychological drama.


In 1937, a woman identifying herself as Evelyn Mulwray hires private investigator Jake Gittes to trail her husband Hollis, whom she suspects of infidelity. Hollis Mulwray is chief engineer at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and refuses to build a new dam on safety grounds. Gittes photographs Mulwray in the company of a young woman, and the pictures make their way into the next day's paper.