Chinatown the greatest film ever, say Guardian and Observer critics

A late honour for Jack Nicholson and Roman Polanski, with Hitchcock's Psycho coming in second

It's the film that cemented Jack Nicholson's reputation as the best American actor of his generation, and it was the last film Roman Polanski would make in the US before he fled the country in disgrace. Now, 36 years later, their 1974 release Chinatown has been voted the greatest film ever made.

The Chandleresque "neo-noir", with an Oscar-winning script by Robert Towne and a superlative performance by Nicholson as detective JJ Gittes, was voted into first place by a panel of Guardian and Observer critics. Chinatown beat six other films in a shortlist drawn from the recently-published seven-part series of The Greatest Films of All Time, which concluded today. Equal second were Alfred Hitchock's Psycho (from the horror section) and Andrei Tarkovsky's Andrei Rublev (the leading film in the arthouse section).

The Guardian's film critic, Peter Bradshaw, says that Chinatown is "such a powerful piece of mythmaking, a brilliant evocation of Los Angeles as a spiritual desert". The Observer's Philip French considers it a movie of "near perfection", ending "unforgettably with the line 'Forget it Jake, it's Chinatown.' "

Polanski had a cameo role as a stiletto-wielding hoodlum who slices Nicholson's nose open.

The full results: 1 Chinatown (Roman Polanski, 1974); 2 Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960) and Andrei Rublev (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1966); 4 Annie Hall (Woody Allen, 1976); 5 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968); 6 Brief Encounter (David Lean, 1945); 7 Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979).


Andrew Pulver

The GuardianTramp

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