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|Contributor||Faye Dunaway, Roman Polanski, Perry Lopez, Jack Nicholson, John Huston|
|Runtime||2 hours and 5 minutes|
Classic US crime drama directed by Roman Polanski which sees murder and scandal emerge from the drought of 1930's Southern California. Private eye Jake Gittes (Jack Nicholson) is hired to follow water commissioner Hollis Mulwray (Darrell Zwerling), only to see him turn up dead at the bottom of a reservoir. Realising he has been used, Gittes confronts Mulwray's widow, Evelyn (Faye Dunaway), a woman who seems to have plenty of secrets of her own, not least her ambiguous relationship with her father, Noah Cross (John Huston).
- Product dimensions : 13.5 x 1.5 x 17.2 cm; 70 Grams
- Director : Roman Polanski
- Media Format : Blu-ray, PAL
- Run time : 2 hours and 5 minutes
- Release date : 16 August 2017
- Actors : Perry Lopez, John Huston, Faye Dunaway, Jack Nicholson
- Studio : Paramount
- ASIN : B075K3XJN7
- Country of origin : Australia
- Number of discs : 1
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The film is without doubt a 5 star, but thisUK blu-ray edition is only worth 3 star. A rip-off!
I have subsequently purchased a US import and it has several extras and therefor 5 stars all round.
Jack Nicholson plays the inevitable gumshoe wandering into a convoluted plot until it's way above his head. Faye Dunaway has the role of Femme-fatale to perfection. These two are the main players, but there's a decent supporting cast that includes an alarming `Goodfellas'-style cameo from the director himself. The plot twists so much it must be watched rather than described. Pacing, lighting & editing are absolutely spot-on, enabling the whole movie to flow in both plot and character development. And the icing on the cake is its theme music, which surfaces as incidental elements throughout the movie. It's a slow-burning jazz number with languid trumpet lead that hits the spot in every theme and is as much a part of plot cohesion as the script itself.
Some don't appear to enjoy this movie half so much as they should. I don't know why, and clearly my praise of it must be as confusing to them. All I can say is that I was bowled over at first watching and have loved it ever since. It's nearly 40 years old now, but might have been made yesterday. No element has aged in the least.
The Collector's Edition supplied by Amazon is crisp & clear. It is listed as 125mins run-time, `15' viewer-rating, and 2.35:1 aspect ratio. There's a number of interesting extras.
Highly recommended and collectible.
Towne's screenplay is complex & knowing, so many twists & parallels it is as good as the genre to which it refers- most notably the roman-noir writings of Raymond Chandler (The Long Goodbye) & Dashiel Hammett (Red Harvest). It makes the film adaptation of LA Confidential look a joke compared. Great to see a lack of voiceover, Towne can easily do the droll-Bogart quips- as is seen when Jake talks to the cops- but the images are left to do the talking. And when the twists come, they come- & are as powerful as those in films such as Vertigo.
The cast are brilliant- one of Nicholson's key performances (so why did he win an Oscar for As Good as it Gets?), alongside brilliant turns from Faye Dunaway, Diane Ladd & a creepy John Huston (there's also a top cameo from Polanski & an appearance from John Hillerman, familiar to those who watched Magnum PI!).
The film starts off as a simple detective story, a local politician is accused by his wife of having an affair, Jake Gittes- who used to work for the D.A. until an undefined event in Chinatown- takes on the case & starts to tail the man in question. The backdrop of politics appears to be related- 1937 LA has not yet expanded to the valleys & is experiencing a water shortage; add to this politicians who wish to build a new dam. Enter Faye Dunaway, an extension of the femme fatale who is more of a victim than a spiderwoman, who informs Gittes that she is the real wife of the man he's tailing (so who was the woman who originally hired him?). Complexities abound when said man turns up dead in the LA water system & it turns out saltwater was in his lungs. Enter a web of modern corruption, leading to Noah Cross (John Huston), who was involved with the dead man & wants to track a girl seen by Gittes during surveillance. Enter more complexities & revelations...
Chinatown is a simply brilliant film, one that can definitely be called perfect- it slowly reveals a portrait of a changing LA- where modern life is taking over (the Okies recalling those in Grapes of Wrath are being destroyed by the politicians & the police are in cahoots with Cross)- preceding the world James Ellroy takes up with books like The Black Dahlia & LA Confidential. It also has a brilliant score from Jerry Goldsmith, which William Goldman believes saves the film (see Which Lie Did I Tell?). A masterpiece of 20th century cinema that is great value at this budget price...