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Night Waves


Thursday 3 February 2005 21:30-22:00 (Radio 3)

It has been hailed as the greatest screenplay of all time. In this evening's Night Waves: Landmarks, novelist and screenwriter William Boyd, and director and screenwriter Mike Figgis dissect and celebrate Robert Towne's Oscar-winning screenplay: Chinatown.


30 minutes

Programme Details

'I goddam near lost my nose! And I like it. I like breathing through it...'

Night Waves this evening continues its study and understanding of the great landmarks of culture, as it turns its attention to what is considered by many as the greatest screenplay in cinema.

Robert Towne's original 1974 screenplay Chinatown conjured up a world of mystery, romance, violence and threat reminiscent of the scenes created in the 40s by Raymond Chandler. The film was directed by Roman Polanski, with Jack Nicholson as private eye Jake Gittes in drought-stricken 1930s Los Angeles, hired by a mysterious woman to spy on her husband.

This neo-noir detective story takes the audience on a journey which raises more questions than answers as it procedes. The conclusions that Gittes reaches are repeatedly turned upside-down as the plot twists and turns, as greed, incest, murder and lies all build up to their gruesome and violent finale.

Towne won an Oscar for his Best Original Screenplay, but what exactly does the script of Chinatown have that makes it such a classic landmark in cinema?

In Night Waves: Landmarks, novelist and screenwriter William Boyd, and Mike Figgis, director and Oscar-nominated screenwriter (for Leaving Las Vegas in 1995), join Isabel Hilton to reassess Robert Towne's modern take on the classic film noir.

Presenter:  Isabel Hilton
Producer: Jerome Weatherald

Duration: 30mins

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