In 1937, a woman identifying herself as Evelyn Mulwray hires private investigator J. J. "Jake" Gittes to follow her husband, Hollis Mulwray, the chief engineer at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power who she claims is having an affair. Trailing him, Gittes overhears Mulwray publicly state that building a new reservoir would be unsafe. Gittes photographs Mulwray with a young woman, which are published in the next day's newspaper. Back at his office, Gittes is confronted by the real Evelyn Mulwray who threatens to sue him.