Robert Towne, Oscar-Profitable ‘Chinatown’ Screenwriter, Dies At 89 – The Boston Courier


NEW YORK (AP) — Robert Towne, the Oscar-winning screenplay author of “Shampoo,” “The Last Detail” and different acclaimed movies whose work on “Chinatown” turned a mannequin of the artwork kind and helped outline the jaded attract of his native Los Angeles,

Towne died Monday surrounded by household at his dwelling in Los Angeles, mentioned publicist Carri McClure. She declined to touch upon any reason behind loss of life.

In an trade which gave start to rueful jokes concerning the author’s standing, Towne for a time held status akin to the actors and administrators he labored with. Via his friendships with two of the most important stars of the Sixties and ’70s, Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson, he wrote or co-wrote among the signature movies of an period when artists held an uncommon stage of inventive management. The uncommon “auteur” amongst display screen writers, Towne managed to convey a extremely private and influential imaginative and prescient of Los Angeles onto the display screen.

“It’s a city that’s so illusory,” Towne advised The Related Press in a 2006 interview. “It’s the westernmost west of America. It’s a sort of place of last resort. It’s a place where, in a word, people go to make their dreams come true. And they’re forever disappointed.”

Fairchild Archive/WWD/Penske Media by way of Getty Photographs

Recognizable round Hollywood for his excessive brow and full beard, Towne gained an Academy Award for “Chinatown” and was nominated three different instances, for “The Last Detail,” “Shampoo” and “Greystroke.” In 1997, he acquired a lifetime achievement award from the Writers Guild of America.

His success got here after a protracted stretch of working in tv, together with “The Man from U.N.C.L.E” and “The Lloyd Bridges Show,” and on low-budget films for “B” producer Roger Corman. In a traditional present enterprise story, he owed his breakthrough partially to his psychiatrist, by whom he met Beatty, a fellow affected person. As Beatty labored on “Bonnie and Clyde,” he introduced in Towne for revisions of the Robert Benton-David Newman script and had him on the set whereas the film was filmed in Texas.

Towne’s contributions had been uncredited for “Bonnie and Clyde,” the landmark crime movie launched in 1967, and for years he was a favourite ghost author. He helped out on “The Godfather” and “Heaven Can Wait” amongst others and referred to himself as a “relief pitcher who could come in for an inning, not pitch the whole game.” However Towne was credited by identify for Nicholson’s macho “The Last Detail” and Beatty’s intercourse comedy “Shampoo” and was immortalized by “Chinatown,” the 1974 thriller set throughout the Nice Despair.

“Chinatown” was directed by Roman Polanski and starred Nicholson as J.J. “Jake” Gittes, a non-public detective requested to observe the husband of Evelyn Mulwray (performed by Faye Dunaway). The husband is chief engineer the Los Angeles Division of Water and Energy and Gittes finds himself caught in a chaotic spiral of corruption and violence, embodied by Evelyn’s ruthless father, Noah Cross (John Huston).

Screenwriter Robert Towne poses at The Regency Hotel in New York on March 7, 2006.
Screenwriter Robert Towne poses at The Regency Resort in New York on March 7, 2006.

Influenced by the fiction of Raymond Chandler, Towne resurrected the menace and temper of a traditional Los Angeles movie noir, however solid Gittes’ labyrinthine odyssey throughout a grander and extra insidious portrait of Southern California. Clues accumulate right into a timeless detective story, and lead helplessly to tragedy, summed up by the one of the crucial repeated traces in film historical past, phrases of grim fatalism a devastated Gittes receives from his associate Lawrence Walsh (Joe Mantell): “Forget it, Jake, it’s Chinatown.”

Towne’s script has been a staple of movie writing courses ever since, though it additionally serves as a lesson in how films typically get made and within the dangers of crediting any movie to a single viewpoint. He would acknowledge working intently with Polanski as they revised and tightened the story and arguing fiercely with the director over the movie’s despairing ending — an ending Polanski pushed for and Towne later agreed was the suitable alternative (Nobody has formally been credited for writing “Forget it, Jake, it’s Chinatown”).

AP Movie Author Jake Coyle contributed to this report.

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