Chinatown and The Fictional World of Archives

Feature Film Release Date: 1974

Directed by Roman Polanski and starring Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway, this film has a well crafted scene presenting a stereotypical records keeper. The scene shows private investigator Jake Geddes, played by Jack Nicholson, in the Los Angeles county hall of records consulting its land title registers The clerk is an impatient, unhelpful civil servant guarding over his records domain who treats the public as trespassers. The records are in long aisles in bound volumes. Jack Nicholson locates the volume relevant to his investigations and tears out a column of recent land titles. These are later used to ascertain the criminal activities of land promoters.

While, the locale is not strictly an archives in so much as the records are active, everything else is very archival in appearance -- the records keeper, the storage, the dry utilitarian surroundings, and the importance of the records as a source of vital evidential information.

  1. The Internet Movie Database

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CONTENTS: The Fictional World of Archives

Submitted by Allen Specht, 1997.01.15. Updated 1999.06.28.