Despite four Oscar-nominated screenplays, writer Robert Towne owed much of his reputation to his prowess as a pinch hitter, earning considerable respect as one of Hollywood's preeminent script doctors on a wide array of famous works like "Bonnie and Clyde" (1967), "The Godfather" (1972) and "Marathon Man" (1976). Emerging from the schlock of Roger Corman's B-grade sci-fi flicks, Towne reached the top of his game in the mid-1970s by writing three-straight films that were nominated for Academy Awards: "The Last Detail" (1973), "Chinatown" (1974) and "Shampoo" (1975). Towne also delved into directing with acclaimed films like "Personal Best" (1982) and "Without Limits" (1998), though most of his directing efforts failed to make much of a box office impression. For Towne, it was always his Oscar-winning script for "Chinatown" that earned him widespread recognition for being one of the finest scribes of his day, while giving him the distinction of having penned what many considered to be greatest screenplay in cinema history. In fact, Towne's masterwork was studied by would-be scribes hoping to unlock its secrets decades after its release, attesting to how much of a landmark film "Chinatown" really was.