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Chinatown (1974)

Jack Nicholson , Faye Dunaway , Roman Polanski  |  R |  DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (567 customer reviews)

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Chinatown Chinatown 4.5 out of 5 stars (567)
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Product Details

  • Actors: Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, Bruce Glover, John Hillerman, James Hong
  • Directors: Roman Polanski
  • Format: Restored, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Dubbed: French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: November 23, 1999
  • Run Time: 130 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (567 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000022TSH
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,925 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Chinatown" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Dynamic Interactive Menus
  • Never-before-seen interviews with director Roman Polanski, screenwriter Robert Towne and producer Robert Evans

Editorial Reviews

Landmark movie in the film noir tradition, Roman Polanski's Chinatown stands as a true screen classic. Jack Nicholson is private eye Jake Gittes, living off the murky moral climate of sunbaked, pre-war Southern California. Hired by a beautiful socialite (Faye Dunaway) to investigate her husband's extra-marital affair, Gittes is swept into a maelstrom of double dealings and deadly deceits, uncovering a web of personal and political scandals that come crashing together for one, unforgettable night in...Chinatown. Co-starring film legend John Huston and featuring an Academy Awardr-winning script by Robert Towne, Chinatown captures a lost era in a masterfully woven movie that remains a timeless gem.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
175 of 182 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
A remarkable film noir classic, "Chinatown" finally gets the deluxe treatment it deserves on Blu-ray.

Blu-Ray: The Blu-ray looks quite nice. There is grain evident throughout but it isn't obstrusive staying true to the "look" of the original film and films of the time. Detail is quite nice throughout with my only complaint a bit heavy handed DNR on occasion in some scenes but that, again, could be justified if the grain was wildy inconsistent from shot to shot. The transfer walks the fine line of providing us with a sharp looking transfer that doesn't fall into the DNR pit of plastic skin and textures so smooth they rob the film of detail.

It appears that the print used for the previous DVD (and quite possibly the same transfer although I haven't been able to confirm this)was also the source for this edition of the film on Blu-ray. It's also possible this is an older HD transfer (again, I haven't been able to confirm when it was done) which might explain the look of the film for BD. either way, "Chinatown" looks quite good although purists might quibble with the amount of visibile grain and texture at times.

The audio is spectacular for the film.

As near as I can tell all of the extras from the previous special edition have largely been ported over which is good and bad--it would be nice to have some nice extras perhaps something looking at the film within the context of the original proposed trilogy a bit more or with hindsight in relation to the under rated sequelThe Two Jakes (Special Collector's Edition) which seemed to inherent the production trouble that was largely avoided on "Chinatown".
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172 of 186 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A milestone in film noir history. January 20, 2002
"Water is the life blood of every community." With this statement, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power's website begins its biography of William Mulholland, the real life model of two of this movie's characters, water department chief Hollis Mulwray (an obvious play on words) and water tycoon Noah Cross. And indeed water, the access to it and the wealth it provides, is what drives everything and everybody in this movie set in the ever-thirsty Los Angeles of the first decades of this century, a budding boom town on the brink of victory or decay ... and whether it will be one or th other depends on the city's ongoing access to drinking water.

"Chinatown"'s story is based on William Mulholland's greatest coup; the construction of the Owen Valley aqueduct which provided Los Angeles with a steady source of drinking water but also entailed a lot of controversy. Splitting Mulholland's complex real-life persona into two fictional characters (the noble Mulwray who thinks that water should belong to the people and who refuses to authorize an unsavory new dam construction project and the greedy, unscrupulous Cross who will use *any* means to advance his personal fortune) creates the movie's one necessary black and white conflict ... other than this, the predominant shades are those of gray.

Into the wars raging around L.A.'s water supply, private eye Jake Gittes (Jack Nicholson) is unwittingly thrown when a woman introducing herself as Hollis Mulwray's wife asks him to investigate her husband's alleged infidelity. Before he realizes what is going on he is drawn into a web of treachery and treason, and fatally attracted to the real Mrs. Mulwray (Faye Dunaway), Noah Cross (John Huston)'s daughter.
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135 of 149 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You Can't Ever Forget "Chinatown" July 27, 2002
Format:VHS Tape
About an hour into "Chinatown", Noah Cross (John Huston) says to Jake Gittes (Jack Nicholson), "You may think you know what you're dealing with, but believe me, you don't." Gittes, whose heard this rap before, just smiles. "Why is that funny?" asks Cross. "It's what the D.A. used to tell me about Chinatown." If any exchange defines "Chinatown" the movie then this is it. It's a film where the cliched metaphor of the onion is quite apt: the more layers you peel away, the more layers you find. And the less you're likely to understand. It begins life as a simple detective story, but eventually spins out of control into a web of intrigue (another cliched metaphor) that not only includes the murder of water commissioner Hollis Mulwray, but the entirety of 1930's Los Angeles.
Into this web is sprung Jake Gittes, a man who seems to be a typical film noir detective, but upon closer inspection is much more. Or, as we shall see, much less. I'd argue that Jake is an existential anti-hero, seemingly in control of every situation he enters in to, but ultimately just a pawn on an unfathomable chessboard. Minor notes in the movie confirm this hypothesis. A former client calls Jake on the phone, looking for his discretion. "Are you alone, Mr. Gittes?" she asks. "Isn't everybody?" Jake replies, clowning for his operatives, but saying more than he really intends to. It's not the last time he inadvertently comments on the futility of his existence. "That must really smart," says Yelburton, the deputy water commissioner, regarding Jake's newly bandaged nose. "Only when I breathe," he replies, pointing out the paradox. The bandaged nose also acts like a mask. Whereas Jake starts the movie as a handsome man in a slick suit (this is primetime Nicholson), he is slowly physically destroyed.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Great homage to all those private eye movies/books of the ...
Great homage to all those private eye movies/books of the '50s and '60s. Good performances too from the lead stars
Published 7 hours ago by Gareth E. Jones
1.0 out of 5 stars overrated
Way overrated. This is high on some list of the 100 best movies. Should not be there.
Published 19 hours ago by Elizabeth B. Leete
5.0 out of 5 stars Genre Cinema at its very best
Roman Polanski's 1974 neo-noir Chinatown is a wonderful film as I'm sure all of you are tired of hearing by now. Read more
Published 6 days ago by Film Buff
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Good movie
Published 7 days ago by Cynthia D. Stitt
5.0 out of 5 stars shipping great!
classic.... Jack Nicholson! Items as expected, shipping great!
Published 9 days ago by Donna Barron
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece In Every Way--Direction, Acting, Scripting, Casting,...
A modern classic noir production. Timeless in it's excellence. Highly recommended. I never tire of seeing this. Acting, by everyone is the best.
Published 9 days ago by Holly
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great movie, hard to follow at times. For me anyway.
Published 11 days ago by Dan Spencer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
love it
Published 13 days ago by S. Lawson
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic ending
I know it's a classic, and I had seen it before. It was slower getting going than I remembered. The ending is still classic.
Published 17 days ago by kd
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Item was as described.
Published 20 days ago by John Sziber
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Topic From this Discussion
2009 Centenial Collection vs. 2007 Special Collector's Edition?
Finally, here's a report, for what it's worth. The 2-disc Centennial Collection print of the film is... less good than the previous Special Edition (single disc). I see it as darker but not in a good way. Shadows that have definition in the previous edition print are blobby oil slicks on this... Read More
Apr 22, 2010 by MEC |  See all 5 posts
The Special Features
Were you able to find a copy that came with a slipcover? I went to three different Best Buy stores, Fry's and DVDPlanet..... none of the copies had slipcovers!

Is Paramount cheapening this line already only after nine releases!?!
Oct 7, 2009 by ANDREW HESS |  See all 4 posts
Would "Chinatown" be nefit from Blu-Ray ?
A film like "Chinatown" definately deserves the frame by frame restoration! A masterpiece! If Paramount isn't willing to spend the money and do this film justice...then don't waste our time. Do it right or not at all!
May 30, 2010 by Dennis |  See all 3 posts
I don't know if it's out of print, technically, but Books A Million had a half-dozen copies new (cut-outs, but sealed/new) for $6.97 each. I scooped one up. I hope it looks and sounds as good as some reviewers claim. :)
Mar 5, 2010 by bass boy |  See all 4 posts
The line "You gotta be rich to kill somebody...." Be the first to reply
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