Wednesday, November 07, 2007

It’s Element-ary, My Dear

A second sequel to the justly lauded 1974 period private-eye film Chinatown? Jack Nicholson, who played Los Angeles gumshoe J.J. “Jake” Gittes in both that movie and its rather confusing 1990 sequel, The Two Jakes, tells the MTV Movies Blog that he’s up for pulling Gittes out of retirement. “We always planned on making three films,” the actor is quoted as saying. “We wanted it all to be tied into elemental things. Chinatown is obviously water. The Two Jakes is fire and energy. And the third film was meant to be about Gittes’ divorce and relate to air.”

Nicholson goes on to say that this elusive third film was to be called Gittes vs. Gittes, and that it “was meant to be set in 1968 when no-fault divorce went into effect in California. It was to be about Gittes’ divorce. The secrecy of Meg Tilly’s character was somehow to involve the most private person in California, [aviator-industrialist] Howard Hughes. That is where the air element would have come into the picture.” Presumably, this means that the crime in Gittes vs. Gittes revolves somehow around the aviation industry.

There’s only one rather peculiar thing about all of this, as Christopher Campbell notes in Cinematical: There’s been lots of talk in the past about another Chinatown sequel, but with a very different plot. “That one,” Campbell writes, “mentioned as trivia on the IMDb and Wikipedia and elsewhere, even had a title, too: Cloverleaf. Set in the 1950s (making sense after the ’30s and ’40s setting of the prior two), this other planned film focused on the building of the Los Angeles freeway system. There was still to be an element theme, though; the sequel was to deal with air pollution. So, did Nicholson just make this story up, or [have] he and screenwriter Robert Towne really always [had] this fourth idea? [Were] there to be four parts for the four elements? Did they change this one to fit with the air theme? It’s all so complicated--which I guess is fitting for Chinatown.”

READ MORE:DVD Watch: Chinatown--Special Collector’s Edition,” by Rick Klaw (The Austin Chronicle).


John McFetridge said...

Isn't the private eye movie about the building of the LA freeway system called "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?"

wstroby said...

Nicholson also talks at length about the planned third film on the "Jack on Jakes" feature on the new "Two Jakes" DVD that came out Tuesday. It's a pretty interesting supplement, about 20 mins. of Nicholson just talking about the character and the trials the second film went through before it was actually made. However, Robert Towne is probably the only one that could answer those questions for sure.