A role tailored for Jack like a suit, double breasted pin stripe and vest. The sunniest noir film ever made. The classic Marlow/Hammett mode from the sly broad to the copious cigarettes. Restrained and absolutely stylish in its direction, pace and production (exceptionally realistic pacing). The classical features of Faye cast with perfection (Polanski looking to his mother’s makeup for inspiration?). The honest flatfoot with the Agent Cooper past (the heavy past of conscience, yes the influence probably goes the other way) and disdain for the greater powers and the corrupt society they run; the cops and the flunkies and bum steers and fraudulent rackets. There must be something inherently nostalgic in the form and medium of noir to be able to pull off such a flawless and smooth cinematic installment with devotion and absolute care for detail — maybe even a sense of detachment. Maybe because there is (literally) so little of Polanski in it, maybe because this is a film made very explicitly with its leads in mind. Or because noir is something so peculiar and uniquely American, like jazz, that its genre repetitions (because being so clear, defined, and hence limited) are so enjoyable as cinematic event that we can keep coming back to them like primary modes. In other words I’m amazed that its taken me this long to finally get around to seeing it from beginning to end (excluding the dubbed Italian version I came across somewhere). Could this be the film that established Polanski’s reputation ultimately? Wouldn’t it be great to think that a solid piece of genre filmmaking could do that for a director, and not his self-indulgent late-life dribblings? That’s what’s so good about noir: rigorous rules and modality. Restraint. The genre is bigger than the director. And possibly the formal respect and nostalgia is really for the studio system that helped spawn noir.