Robert Towne, Chinatown’s screenwriter, celebrates his 83rd birthday

Robert Towne 1

Robert Towne, the screenwriter of Polanski’s famous film Chinatown, was born on this day in 1934.

Towne has had an affluent career in the film industry, writing, directing, producing, and acting. However, we won’t be talking about everything he’s done so far. We will only mention Chinatown because it is considered one of the best-written screenplays in the history of film. Or, as the Writers Guild of America would say, the third best ever (beating the giants such as “Citizen Kane”, “All About Eve”, and “Sunset Blvd.”) A huge thing, don’t you agree?

In 1975 Robert Towne got Oscar for the best original screenplay for Chinatown, Roman Polanski’s directorial masterpiece. Granted, screenwriters get Oscars all the time, but to earn the Academy Award for the first screenplay you’ve ever written, well that’s a thing. And Towne did it.

Chinatown was supposed to be a movie with a happy end. In the original version, Evelyn Mulray and her daughter get away, and Noah Cross gets killed. However, Polanski had his own view of it, thinking that the tragic end would have been more effective, so he was the one to kill Evelyn. As far as we know, Towne didn’t mind; he thought the decision was right.

Also, the scene in actual Chinatown was not a part of the original screenplay, but Polanski wanted at least one shot to be made there, so that’s why the movie plot made its grand finish there.

And Jack Nicholson was Towne’s idea, which makes the latter genius look even greater in retrospect.

ALSO SEE  On This Day: The Godfather premiered 46 years ago

Chinatown should have been the first part of a trilogy. The second part was The Two Jakes from 1990. Unfortunately, the last one never saw the light of day.

But Chinatown on its own was enough to show Robert Towne’s brilliance. Did you know that Polanski decided not to move the camera much because the story and the characters are so compelling and powerful that they didn’t need that? Not many screenwriters can be that good. Although Polanski made some changes in Towne’s original screenplay, he was well aware of its quality.

Speak Your Mind


Spotify Master