Chinatown: Roman Polanski’s masterpiece (a word not used lightly) starts with the writing. Robert Towne’s screenplay echoes from the work of Hammett-Chandler-Macdonald (mostly from the last of this great triad), presenting complex characters and a serpentine but irresistible plot. Jack Nicholson plays with great charm his rascal (making an unpleasant character one interesting to watch); Faye Dunaway and John Huston are also tone-perfect in their own presences. Production and costume design are top-notch, and Jerry Goldsmith’s moody score fits the bill perfectly. John A. Alonzo shoots the scenes very elegantly; there is a spare use of cuts, but the long takes don’t call attention to themselves, but to the acting.