I saw Chinatown when it first came out (1974). With my sixth form film society (which we ran ourselves – I shall write a post about that one day) I had seen Knife in the Water , Cul de sac and Repulsion and I remember having difficulty at the time in making the connection between the darkness at the heart of those films (I hadn’t yet seen Rosemary’s Baby) and the sophisticated, natty, witty, multilayered narrative of Chinatown. In retrospect, having just watched Chinatown again this evening, there is a seamless linkage between it and Polanski’s earlier work and, indeed, several of his later films. What sets Chinatown apart from the Chandler/Hammett private eye yarns that, at one level, it mimics is the nature of the darkness that Jack Nicholson’s character, Jake Gittes, slowly uncovers. This is not the sister/daughter of Faye Dunnaway’s character (Mrs Mulwray), fruit of the self-righteous incestuousness of John Huston’s bluff tycoon (Noah Cross), though that would surely have provided a satisfactory climax to a Chandler tale; no, it is the altogether vaster darkness that would turn deserts into orange groves, dam rivers on dangerously shifting foundations, and spread Los Angeles ever further and wider. For the flood hinted at by the name of Huston’s character is the flood of humanity, a race that, as Polanski knew only too well from his own childhood, was capable of unspeakable crimes against itself.