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Chinatown (Special Collector's Edition)

4.6 out of 5 stars 716 customer reviews

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(Nov 23, 1999)
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(Nov 06, 2007)
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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 Award®-winning script by Robert Towne, Chinatown captures a lost era in a masterfully woven movie that remains a timeless gem.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Hillerman, John Huston, Perry Lopez
  • Directors: Roman Polanski
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Collector's Edition, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, Restored, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, French, Portuguese, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French, Portuguese, Spanish
  • 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 6, 2007
  • Run Time: 130 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (716 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000UAE7RW
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #91,397 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Chinatown (Special Collector's Edition)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Wayne Klein HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 20, 2007
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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Format: DVD
"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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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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