Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes
As much as I admire the work of both Polanski and Nicholson, I found Chinatown tedious from beginning to just before the end.
Polanski's film suggests that the rules of the game are written in some strange, untranslatable language, and that everyone's an alien and, ultimately, a victim.
It takes a Herculean effort to transform this type into a character and to replace the formula with a story, and Chinatown's success in both of these regards is one of the reasons it is universally viewed as a classic.
[Nicholson's] performance is key in keeping Chinatown from becoming just a genre crime picture--that, and a Robert Towne screenplay that evokes an older Los Angeles.
The hard-boiled private eye coolly strolls a few steps ahead of the audience.
Roman Polanski's American made film, first since Rosemary's Baby shows him again in total command of talent and physical filmmaking elements.
In 1974 a director, a screenwriter, and a producer (Robert Evans, who for once deserves a few of the plaudits he's apportioned himself) could decide to beat a genre senseless and then dump it in the wilds of Greek tragedy.