“Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown”


“Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.”

Posted on November 20, 2021

Chinatown This is the last line in Roman Polanski’s masterpiece film, Chinatown. The screenplay, Chinatown was written by Robert Towne but supposedly, Polanski ( with an assist from Jack Nicholson ) rewrote the final scene because he and Towne disagreed as to how the movie should end and Towne walked off the picture…..or so the story goes. At any rate, Robert Towne’s Chinatown is still one of the finest screenplays ever written.

Hi. I’m John Timmons. I’m originally from Philly and I’m a screenwriter. I write very good screenplays because SincerityI’m very good at it. I think one of the reasons for this is my visual affinity. I can see the film in my “minds eye” very clearly and that definitely helps. My writing is accomplished, my attention to detail takes many pains, and my rates are reasonable, flexible, and negotiable( please see Rates)…..If you have a great story idea that will make a terrific movie and you are looking to hire a script writer, then I may very well be your guy. Honestly, not all story genres are right for all screenwriters.That is true. But I have been a screenwriter-for-hire many times, and I have written in many different genres:  Action/Romantic Comedy/Science Fiction( adapted novel)/Horror/Cop Drama/Film Noir. (please see Credentials). I have also written spec scripts of my own, one of which, Mysterious Ways, has been optioned by Producer, Stephen Downing. (Dead By Dawn, Ocean Beach) 



Some of the more famous lines in good films have been a result of improvisation on the set or in rehearsals, or added by a director when a scene has been altered for practical reasons. Often that will lead amateurs to believe ” Oh, we’ll just bang out a screenplay in a couple of days and then we can improvise the rest on set.” Rather than take the time to hire a script writer, they’ll save money for a crane shot or another special effect by doing it themselves. But good films and great films begin ON THE PAGE. A screenplay is NOT A BIBLE but it IS a launching pad, a jumping-off point, a touchstone through which all things are then possible as production as begins. “(Screenplays) are invitations to others to collaborate on a work of art.”  Paul Schrader.

Taxi DriverThe better the screenplay, the more free everyone is to create. You have set up “rules” to follow and now you are free to change them or to break them. It is like following a detailed road map knowing that if you take side roads and detours you can always return to the main highway if you so choose. One can easily make a bad film from a good screenplay but one can NEVER make a good film from a bad screenplay.
“With a good script a good director can produce a masterpiece; with the same script a mediocre director can make a passable film. But with a bad script even a good director can’t possibly make a good film. For truly cinematic expression, the camera and the microphone must be able to cross both fire and water. That is what makes a real movie. The script must be something that has the power to do this.”...Akira Kurosawa.

Coppola, Kershner, Kurosawa, Lucas, Speilberg

Coppola, Kershner, Kurosawa, Lucas, Speilberg

Unfortunately, after a screenplay is purchased and moves into development, many good ones become bad ones because they get “rewritten”; often multiple times by egotistical producers who just want to put their greasy fingerprints on a project or who hire other screenwriters to “punch up” the script to make it “more commercial” or by ersatz directors who don’t know a damn thing about writing but just want to get a screenwriting credit. But, again, the better the screenplay the less they can screw it up…..too much…….sometimes. LOL Much of the time, one can only hope that an already good screenplay will fall into the hands of someone who can appreciate it. Or, of course, make the movie yourself…………………………..Here are a few more of my favorites:


The Exorcist– Written by William Peter Blatty.

Father Merrin: “We may ask what is relevant, but anything beyond that is dangerous. He is a liar, the demon is a liar. He will lie to confuse us. But he will also mix lies with the truth to attack us. The attack is psychological, Damien, and powerful. So don’t listen, remember that, do not listen.”

Father Karras:” I think it would be helpful if I gave you some background on the different personalities Regan has manifested. So far, there seems to be three. She’s convinced …”

Father Merrin: “There’s only one…….”
“Could you help an old altar boy,  Father? I’m a Catholic.”


The Godfather– Screenplay by Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola…….                     “I always thought it would have been Clemenza. Not Tessio.”                                                “It’s the smart move. Tessio was always smarter.” copy-Top.jpg

Inception-Written by Christopher Nolan.“She’ll be back. I’ve never seen anyone pick it up so fast. And one reality won’t be enough for her now….. SLP Diner

Silver Linings Playbook– Screenplay by David O. Russell
Tiffany: Why did you order Raisin Bran?
 Pat: Why did you order tea?[She eats cereal.] Tiffany[chewing] Because you ordered Raisin Bran. Pat: I ordered Raisin Bran because I didn’t want any mistaking it for a date. Tiffany: [chewing] It can still be a date if you order Raisin Bran. Pat: It’s not a date. So how’s your thing going — dancing thing? Tiffany: It’s good. How’s your restraining order? pulp-fiction-breakfast-scene

Pulp Fiction-Written by Quentin Tarentino

“I wouldn’t go so far as to call a dog filthy, but they’re definitely dirty. But a dog’s got personality. And personality goes a long way.”

So, by that rationale, if a pig had a better personality, he’d cease to be a filthy animal?”                                                                                                                          We’d have to be talkin’ ’bout one charmin’ pig. It’d have to be the Cary Grant of pigs.”


Rocky: Written by Sylvester Stallone…….

“My father….my old man….he was never too smart. He said to me, ‘You weren’t born with much of a brain’ You know? ‘So you better start using your body.’ Right? So I become a fighter……You know what I mean?………..Why you laughin’?”

“My mother….She said the opposite thing.”… “She said, ‘ You weren’t born with much of a body, so you better develop your brain.”


The Verdict-Screenplay by David Mamet…….

“There are no other cases. This is the case. There are no other cases. This is the case. There are no other cases. This is the case. …No other cases. This is the case.”

E-MAIL: johntimmons0462@gmail.com
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