I found out, to my amazement, that two of my favorite movies were released on the same date, one year apart (in 1974 and 1975). That date is today, June 20th.
Chinatown was, and is, a seminal work rich with detail and packed with amazing moments and performances. Jack Nicholson has never done better work, in my opinion… nor has Faye Dunaway, or John Huston, or Roman Polanski, or Robert Towne. Heck, even James Hong is superb in a bit role (and I had a chance to tell him that, happily, many years ago – the only member of the cast I ever met). It’s a miraculous thing, a film that could have not worked at all (the plot is difficult to follow for many, and it’s a period film with a barely-likable protagonist) and yet… it does.
Another film that could have been a disaster was Jaws. A movie set almost entirely at sea, with only three characters to watch for the bulk of its running time? A mechanical shark? Again, the fates were with Spielberg and the result is one of the most perfect movies ever made. I wouldn’t change a thing (OK, maybe I would show less of the shark at the end). Even though I have decided to stop rewatching films I’ve already seen, if I’m flipping channels and Jaws is on TV… I am drawn back in every time.
Today Chinatown turns 40, and Jaws turns 39… but in the end, both are timeless.