Everyone knows about Chinatownand how it's one of the great screenplays of all time. Some people know about the sequel, The Two Jakes, and how it was a critical and commercial failure. Few people know about the plans for a third film that was planned from the beginning yet never came to be. But now Jack Nicholson, who starred in the first two films and directed the second, has resurrected the idea of a Chinatown trilogy, claiming that he'd still consider doing it. During an interview conducted by MTV News, Nicholson discussed the plan for the third film, which he says was to be titled Gittes vs. Gittes. Set in 1968, which would be twenty years after the events of Jakes, the film focuses on no-fault divorces, which went into effect in California that year. Nicholson's Jake Gittes is divorcing his wife (I never bothered to watch Jakes, but I'm assuming his wife is Meg Tilly's character from that film), which somehow leads him to involvement with Howard Hughes, and I guess something to do with planes and flight. See, Nicholson explained that Chinatown represented water, Jakes represented fire (oil) and Gittes would represent air. Hmm, what about the fourth element, land? Or the fifth element, Leeloo?

It's cool that Nicholson is into reprising the role of Jake Gittes, and it seems in the chronology that now would be a good time to do something set twenty years after the last film (released in 1990). But the strange thing is that this is a completely different plot from the one most of us have read about. That one, 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 has he and screenwriter Robert Towne really always have this fourth idea? Was 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.
categories Cinematical