Faye Dunaway, Chinatown

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


I want to do a story where Faye Dunaway's Evelyn Mulwray somehow intervenes with Jane Fonda's Gloria from They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, thereby altering the course of events which would otherwise lead to Gloria's suicide--in other words, Evelyn indirectly saves Gloria. A few years later, Gloria is in Chinatown that fateful day, remembers Evelyn, and at the crucial moment diverts Noah Cross just enough so that his shot misses--and Evelyn is saved, too.

These tragic heroines are both that noble--Gloria's nobility needing to be resuscitated; Evelyn's "luck" needing just a twist.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

David Thomson

"Then in Chinatown..., she was the shifty heart of a film, far more so than Jack Nicholson. It is Dunaway who most effectively relates the worlds of the elegant Mrs. Evelyn Mulwray (a woman from a Lubitsch film, condescending to appear in a George Raft picture) and the glowing, mango-colored China doll who sleeps with Nicholson's detective and has an ingrowing family tree. She looks like a cross between Joan Crawford and Sylvia Sidney until she turns her head to the light and her arched brows show the flawed iris nemesis of Chinatown."

David Thomson
A Biographical Dictionary of Film
(from "The New ... : Expanded and Updated", p. 263)

"The heroine of Chinatown, and in many ways the chief victim of the intrigue, was Evelyn Mulwreay, played by Faye Dunaway... She managed to evoke memories of the great actresses from the 1930s, while adding a very modern feeling of tragedy. The nose? You know the nose."

[I don't know what Thomson meant about "the nose", but I'm including it in case I figure it out later.]

Hollywood: A Celebration! (2001), p. 422-23

Monday, October 10, 2005

Stephen Farber

"The masochistic side of the women's lib literature has been represented in such films as Play It As It Lays and Buster and Billie, one-note chronicles of the exploitations, subjugation, and defeat of women. But there are no screen heroines who have been awakened to new possibilities by the women's movement. It is revealing that the most interesting heroines can be found in movies set in the past. Roman Polanski's Chinatown, an overpraised, pretentious detective story, creates a heroine in the femme fatale mold of the forties movies and almost brings off the conceit. Faye Dunaway's Evelyn Mulwray is obviously modeled on Mary Astor's treacherous, duplicitious Brigid O'Shaugnessy in The Maltese Falcon, but there is one crucial difference: Brigid was a ruthless, scheming murderess, while Evelyn lies because of her neurotic helplessness. Her disdainful, aristocratic manner is only a facade; she is actually ravaged, vulnerable, and ultimately doomed. Although in her first scenes she resembles the thirties and forties heroine--the woman of style, power, and mystery--she is really a seventies figure, woman as victim. But if she is finally little more than a bundle of familiar feminine neuroses, she is still the only character in the cardboard world of Chinatown, and thanks to Faye Dunaway's eloquent performance, we remember her after everything else in this posturing movie has faded."

Stephen Farber
"The Vanishing Heroine", The Hudson Review, issue? 1974, p. 575