Chinatown is a film that is more suspenseful being set in the 1930s because in that time frame, there were not as many new technologies. This element makes Chinatown more suspenseful because with the limited resources, the case cannot be solved fast enough. The reason why the film was set in the 1930s is because the 1930s had more corruption. Therefore, this allowed more looking back in that time period. If the movie took place in the 1970s (the film was made in 1974) the case would have been too easy. The film contains many evidence of a crime where the main character JJ Gittes (Jack Nicholson) falls into a herd of deceit, corruption, and murder.
The corruption in the movie is quite deep and unexpected because the case goes from seeming like a normal case to an actually really serious case. Gittes falls into situations with people who are risky such as Mrs. Mulwray (Faye Dunaway): a woman who hires Gittes because she suspects her husband is having an affair. He realizes this when he finds that the real Mrs. Mulwray is dead. Therefore, the case created by the impostor of Mrs. Mulwray develops a confrontational case for Gittes when his life can be on the line due to his behavior with the woman involved in the case. Since there is an impostor, Gittes cannot really distinguish the scenario between what is real and what is not. This adds to the corruption for Gittes because he does not know who he can trust.
The movie is a puzzle that leaves us thinking why the title Chinatown is the name of the movie. The film’s title comes in to show us that the corruption ends in Chinatown. The place is not really recognized much in the beginning of the movie. More towards the end of the movie, we find out that there is a connection with Gittes’s involvement with Chinatown. In the beginning though, Gittes mentions a story of being in a situation in Chinatown. Therefore, it is a metaphor for returning to Chinatown since Gittes stays there at the end.
Overall Chinatown is captivating on terms of corruption. Gittes is corrupted from the very beginning of the movie and his situation gets out of hand. Its setting and its lack of resources creates a dramatic conflict for Gittes. The lies of Mrs. Mulwray take Gittes by surprise. Therefore, Gittes ends up being in a case that is completely unorthodox on terms of what is real and what is not. The disorganization of the case is what destines Chinatown to be a classic because it leaves viewers thinking about how the case is going to end.