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_3ARLT101.class10.handout - Robert Towne Is there a more...

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Unformatted text preview: Robert Towne Is there a more representative Los Angeles movie than Roman Polanski’s 1974 detective drama Chinatown. with its film noir treatment of the story of the region’s water wars? The braincth of screenwriter Robert Towne (b. 1936), Chinatown is a sort of twisted creation myth that finds the city's roots in corruption and violence. Towne, a Southern California native, began his motion-picture career writing for B-picture maestro Roger Corman before graduating to screenplays such as The Last Detail, SW. Perm! Beat, and flu Two Jam. Here he meditate-s on the tradition that inspired Chinatown, 51 n'aclition having less to do with Hollywood than with such literaly forebears as Carey WWilliams and Raymond Chandler. PREFACE AND POSTSCRIPT T0 CHINATOWN It was in Eugene, Oregon, in April of 1971 that I came across a public library copy of Carey Mchliams' Soldiers California Country: An fallen? on the Lana—and with it the crime that formed the basis for “Chinatown.” It wasn’t the compendium of Facts in the chapter ““Water! Water] Water!" or indeed in the entire book. It was that Carey Mchliams wrote about Southern California. with sensibilities my eye, ear, and nose recognized. Along with Chandler he made me feel that had not only walked down the same streets and into the same arroyo—he smelled the eucalyptus, heard the humming of high ten- sion wires, saw the same bleeding Madras landscapesa-and so a sense of deja vu was underlined by a sense of jamais vu: no writers had ever spoken as strongly to me about my home. The rapacious effects ofa housing development in Deep Canyon nearby, and a photo essay called “Raymond Chandler's LA.” in the old We}: magazine provided, I think, the actual catalyst for the screenplay. The photos in Wedtn—a Plymouth convertible under an Old streetlight in the rain outside Bullock’s Wilshire, for example-— reminded me there was still time to preserve much of the city’s past 677 lplenclors, Writers as 1.l" aullcner, gtvio PELZ, 5-11 It owslci. Charles - il Avenue {calls her 5 Garrett he City's Rite sub- cPhee les mud sets on es him- 9 world [inds at of the iterary lnd lees ...
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