Most serious movie-lovers regard Roman Polanski's Chinatown as an essential film to have in their collection, making it all the more important that Paramount's DVD edition of the film be satisfactory. There is probably still room for improvement; nevertheless, there is much to recommend this disc. It is doubtful that Chinatown could possibly look any better than it does in this format. The widescreen anamorphic transfer exhibits a superb degree of detail and completely natural colors. The sound is also vastly improved (the original mono audio track is available for purists), with a new Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that never lacks clarity and adds an extra dimension to Jerry Goldsmith's outstanding score. The additional features on the disc include the original theatrical trailer and a set of retrospective interviews with Polanski, producer Robert Evans, and screenwriter Robert Towne. The interviews are about 15 minutes long, but it is very interesting to hear the filmmakers putting Chinatown in a modern perspective. Given that Chinatown is generally regarded as one of the best films ever made, Paramount might well have done even more in the way of supplementary features. But given how wonderfully the film itself is rendered, this disc should cause few complaints.
Widescreen version enhanced for 16x9; Dolby Digital: English 5.1 Surround; restored English mono; French mono; English subtitles; Dynamic interactive menus; Scene selection; Theatrical trailer; Retrospective: interviews with Roman Polanski, Robert Towne, and Robert Evans
Side #1 0. Scene Selection 1. J.J. Gittes [1:54] 2. Hollis Mulwray [3:51] 3. Evelyn Mulwray [3:20] 4. Bad for Glass [7:07] 5. Dry As A Bone [:05] 6. "C" for Cross [7:26] 7. Find the Girl [:52] 8. The Valley [6:08] 9. The Albacore Connection [5:20] 10. Maid's Night Off [1:55] 11. Mulwray's Girl [7:06] 12. Witholding Evidence [7:32] 13. The Truth [7:12] 14. Eluding Escobar [6:30] 15. Capable of Anything [:32] 16. Chinatown [5:36]
Side #1 Play Set Up Audio Options English 5.1 Surround Restored English Mono French Subtitles English for the deaf and Hard of Hearing None Special Features Theatrical Trailer Retrospective Interviews with Roman Polanski, Robert Evans and Robert Towne
Chinatown 4.8 out of 5based on
More than 1 year ago
Polanski's dark city of angels, memories on every street corner.
Pity a trilogy was never completed or maybe Nicholson will come out of semi-retirement to do it...?
More than 1 year ago
What a great movie on so many levels. The writing, acting, directing, and the cinematography all work together to make this movie an all time classic. Jack Nicholson gives one of his best performances as the private dectective who finds himself caught up in murder and the deep, dark secret of his client. Faye Dunaway does a quietly wonderful job as the desperate widow of the murdered man. The outward story of how water played an important role in the development of the L.A. region sets the stage for a story of betrayal at the most basic of levels. Chinatown is a movie to own.
More than 1 year ago
Roman Polanski's "Chinatown" (1974) integrates moral despair with classic, and bankable, Hollywood elements--an atmospheric setting, a likable hero, a lady in distress, romance, suspense, and direct narrative and cinematic allusions to the Raymond Chandler crime movies of the forties. Though the film is set in Los Angeles of the thirties, the conspiracy it details is based on an actual fraud of 1905, in which wealthy Southern California businessmen and politicians staged a "drought" in order to ensure the public's acceptance of a controversial piece of water legislation, one that would help expand the city of Los Angeles and line their own pockets. Robert Towne's Oscar-winning script is the story of private investigator. J. J. Gittes (Jack Nicholson), who is first used by the conspiracy in an effort to discredit an honest water commissioner. Gittes specializes in matrimonial work-spying and reporting on errant spouses-but his investigation will uncover a family sexual secret that surely tops his usual profession. When the subject of Gittes' surveillance is killed, Gittes is confronted by his beautiful widow (Faye Dunaway), who, in the best Chandler tradition, is a poor liar. Gittes is a self-serving, narcissistic man, but he had at some date been expelled from the detective ranks of the police force, and he bears a particular dislike for bureaucratic functionaries. Naturally, he is intrigued by Mrs. Mulray (Dunaway), who first threatens to sue him and then promptly asks him to drop the investigation. Gittes' strength is also his weakness his humane qualities--his independence and open mindedness--allow him to see what others do not, and ultimately his emotional attachment to Mrs. Mulray will serve to discredit his skillfully collected evidence. Ironically, at one point the police threaten to arrest him on a charge of conspiracy. By the time he has gotten the goods on the man behind the plot, Noah Cross (John Huston), Gittes has so antagonized the police that they pointedly dismiss him as a hindrance. "Chinatown" is an engrossing, fast paced film that is both a parody and a revival of the old Hollywood detective genre. It is also a complex picture. Anyone who leaves his seat, even for an instant, risks missing a new turn in the twisting story. As the complex plot unravels, we discover more and more about what is actually happening or what is apparently happening. Nothing is what it seems, which is, as we will learn, the reason for the film's name. Chinatown is the district where Jake Gittes started his career as a cop. It is a section of Los Angeles where bizarre things happen regularly. Cops who want to survive in this world learn that if in doubt, it is best to back off and do nothing. Throughout the film, "Chinatown" represents not only an ethnic zone which defies police penetration, but a state of mind Chinatown is where Gittes arranges for Mrs. Mulray to go to evade her father and the police it is a place of compromised strength where emotion conquers professional coolness and it is the place where Gittes mistakes ideals for possibilities. As in the metaphor of "Jaws" (1975), "Chinatown" activates man's primal relationship with water as a weakness. In "Chinatown", water is used for recreation it is also a weapon (The Water Commissioner is drowned in a pond, Gittes is almost swept under in a drainage gulley) but in the film's strongest indictment of capitalism, water--a primary element of nature--becomes a viable currency, to be hoarded, diverted and controlled for private interest. "Chinatown" uncovers a conspiracy where the public is least likely to suspect it, in an element that is both familiar and benign. Much of the film's success is due to Robert Towne's screenplay. Originally, he wrote the script like a standard detective movie that he planned to direct himself. Then he saw some photographs of Los Angeles circa 193
More than 1 year ago
From the opening to the closing credits, this film is quintissential Hollywood filmmaking. A rich story with many interesting characters, Chinatown is a fictional retelling of how water was brought to L.A. in order to help it expand to the size it is today. Of course, there was plenty of controversy behind this, and this movie brings out what it must've been like, or at least similar to. Chinatown is also considered the model screenplay by many screenwriting instructors. Enjoy this Hollywood classic!