RARA-AVIS: Re: The Two Jakes

Kevin Burton Smith (kvnsmith@colba.net)
Wed, 22 Dec 1999 07:58:08 -0400

Hey, Martha!

Yeah, what Terrill said! Especially the bit about Ross Macdonald.

No, it isn't perfect, and I agree that Nicholson, as a director, played it too safe (though his acting was far better than almost anything he's done since). Still, he did okay, considering it was a job he never asked for. It's a slow-moving, thoughtful film, but it all falls into place in a very satisfying way.

Maybe you just thought you knew what was going on, but you didn't.

Speaking of which, I was probably the only one on the planet who didn't get Kitty's secret until she revealed it. But after seeing it again (right after re-viewing Chinatown), I've seen how slyly (but fairly) Towne plotted all the clues all through the film. Ludicrous and unbelievable? I thought it was kinda bittersweet and moving, and yes, sometimes murky and confusing, the way love and memory and the past always are. That whole barely comprehensible tape bit is classic--Jake seems to be the only one who can hear it clearly, and even he's not sure. We all build our own pasts.

And Max Allan Collins, in his januarymagazine.com interview (well worth reading, by the way), sheds a bit more light on the making of the film:

"Having read the screenplay, I only wish Nicholson had cut the film differently -- he omitted some of the more overt detective elements, particularly in the courtroom scene conclusion, which would have helped the picture connect with a wider audience. It's a lovely sad story on its own terms and Harvey Keitel is incredible, getting every nuance out of a well-written role, courtesy of Robert Towne..."

Kevin Burton Smith The Thrilling Detective Web Site http://www.colba.net/~kvnsmith/thrillingdetective/ It's Time for the 1999 Cheap Thrills P.I. Poll! Vote now! Vote often!

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