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If It's Purple, Someone's Gonna Die: The Power of Color in Visual Storytelling by Patti Bellantoni

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4

Innocent, Cautionary, and Idyllic Yellows

Innocent Yellows

Chinatown

1974. Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Huston.

Directed by Roman Polanski. Cinematography:

John A. Alonzo; Production Design: Richard Sylbert.

A Car that Defined a Character

Filmmakers have a way of getting us to visually register who and what’s important to the story. It could have been just another luxury car, an elegant accessory to go with an elegant lady. But the filmmakers wanted more. We know because of the way we first see Evelyn Mulwray’s (Faye Dunaway’s) pale yellow Packard convertible.

Jake Gittes (Jack Nicholson) has come to the home of Hollis Mulwray, Chief Engineer for the Department of Water and Power for the city of Los Angeles. The butler, with a “Wait ...

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