The Two Jakes

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The Two Jakes
Two jakes poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jack Nicholson
Produced by Robert Evans
Harold Schneider
Jack Nicholson
Written by Robert Towne
Starring Jack Nicholson
Harvey Keitel
Meg Tilly
Madeleine Stowe
Music by Van Dyke Parks
Cinematography Vilmos Zsigmond
Editing by Anne Goursaud
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • August 10, 1990 (1990-08-10)
Running time 138 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $19 million
Box office $10,005,969[1]

The Two Jakes is a 1990 American Neo-noir mystery film, and the sequel to the 1974 film Chinatown. Directed by and starring Jack Nicholson, it also features Harvey Keitel, Meg Tilly, Madeleine Stowe, Richard Farnsworth, Frederic Forrest, Pia Gronning, David Keith, Rubén Blades, Tracey Walter and Eli Wallach. Reprising their roles from Chinatown are Joe Mantell, Perry Lopez, James Hong, Allan Warnick[2] and, in a brief voice-over, Faye Dunaway. The character of Katherine Mulwray returns as well played by Meg Tilly.

It was released by Paramount Pictures on August 10, 1990 (the same year as another high profile sequel from Paramount, The Godfather Part III). The film was not a box office or critical success, and plans for a third film about J. J. Gittes, with him near the end of his life, were abandoned.


In Los Angeles in 1948, Jake Berman (Keitel) hires private investigator J. J. "Jake" Gittes (Nicholson) to catch his wife in the act of committing adultery. During the sting, Berman kills his rival, identified as his partner in a real estate company. Gittes, under scrutiny for his unwitting role in the crime, must discover whether it was justifiable, and how it connects with California's booming oil industry, and must understand its connection to his own past in a wire recording that mentions Katherine Mulwray, the daughter of Evelyn Mulwray of the previous film. Thereafter Gittes is involved with the dead man's widow while trying to prove to Berman's wife that her paramour's death had been carefully planned. He does so, after having learned that Mrs. Berman is Katherine Mulwray.



Made 16 years after its famous predecessor, the film had a very troubled production, and was supposed to be made around 1985. Originally, producer Robert Evans was to play the "second" Jake, but Towne, who was going to direct the film at that time, did not think he was the right choice and fired him. After this, Nicholson ended up directing (and it would be his last film to date).[3]


Unlike its predecessor, the film performed poorly in terms of box office,[4] was not nominated for any awards and critical reception was very mixed, although it found some success in the home media market.[5] The film holds a 65% rating on review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes.[6] Roger Ebert gave the movie 3.5 stars out of four, writing that "every scene falls into place like clockwork [...] exquisite."[7] Vincent Canby writing for The New York Times called it "an enjoyable if clunky movie".[8] Variety called the film "a jumbled, obtuse yet not entirely unsatisfying follow-up to Chinatown".[9] Desson Howe writing for The Washington Post said that "at best, the movie comes across as a competently assembled job, a wistful tribute to its former self. At worst, it's wordy, confusing and -- here's an ugly word -- boring."[10]

Planned third film[edit]

Screenwriter Robert Towne originally planned a trilogy involving private investigator J. J. Gittes. The third movie, called Gittes vs. Gittes, was to be set in 1968 and deal with Gittes' divorce.[11]


External links[edit]