Chinatown' Screenwriter Robert Towne Passes Away at 89

Renowned writer Robert Towne leaves behind a cinematic legacy

by Zain ul Abedin
Chinatown' Screenwriter Robert Towne Passes Away at 89
© Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

The famed movie script writer Robert Towne, known for writing the screenplay of the Roman Polanski-directed "Chinatown", for which he won an Academy Award, died in his house in Los Angeles on Monday. He was 89. It was widely reported on Tuesday by Towne’s publicist, Carri McClure, though no reason of death was mentioned.

Thus, Towne started working as an acclaimed screenwriter representative of the New Hollywood movement due to his unique talent of creating brilliant dialogue. His win in the Oscars owing to "Chinatown" in 1974 is an example of a three-time consecutive nominee, which was a big boost to his contributions to the industry.

Some of his other prominent nominations were for the movies The Last Detail also directed by Hal Ashby and Shampoo.

Towne's Uncredited Impact

Moreover, Towne was concerned in the production of several of the most crucial motion pictures of the twentieth century, although he was not credited for those: "Bonnie and Clyde" (1967) and "The Godfather" (1972).

In a similar way, his flair for scriptwriting was well recognized in America, and he was regarded as one of the best script doctors in Hollywood despite his habit of being delayed often. However successful the critic described him as Towne was notorious for his unconventional behavior on the set.

He used to be late most of the times and he would submit scripts which were splendid but chaotic at the same time in their raw format. When it comes to Towne as a character, film historian David Thomson said that he was fascinating because he is an idealist with realistic motives; he is a romantic at heart but also a man plagued by doubt.

This aspect introduced more depth to the characters and issues that he was depicting and a richness to the films that he was contributing towards, and thus, even to this day, he left a mark in the way moving stories are told.