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A Few Words About A few words about...™ Chinatown-- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Mar 16, 2012.

  1. Felix Martinez

    Felix Martinez Well-Known Member

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  2. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Then I suppose any discussion of this "secret individual" is inappropriate in this thread for all the HTF members who cannot know what/who is being discussed.
     
  3. Guest

    Mike, all you have to do is google any of the films cited and restoration and you will find articles. It is appropriate to this thread because it is troubling that Paramount is no longer utilizing his talents, which is a shame. We probably won't see the level of quality in future releases...but I hope I'm wrong.
     
  4. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    So. If it's a matter of public record (and has been reported here in this thread as matter of fact), why the need to walk on eggshells?

    I took Eric's suggestion and suspect the person in question is Ron Smith.

    It doesn't make sense to me that some members reading the thread know the "inside" discussion and others don't.
     
  5. benbess

    benbess Well-Known Member

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    This is worrying....
    I guess my dream of more restored VistaVision titles is dead for now?
    Did this just happen in the last few days?
     
  6. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?

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    That name was mentioned is a post that was deleted by the poster. Seems odd that the name shouldn't be mentioned. HTF didn't fire release him from his contract him.
     
  7. Felix Martinez

    Felix Martinez Well-Known Member

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    I don't think it's so much a mystery/controversy as simply respect - both to the individual in question and to Mr. Harris, as this is his thread and little piece of virtual real estate. As such I deleted my post which served not so much to out this person but to provide links to the good work done under his watch. No disrespect intended.
     
  8. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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  9. Jeff Newcomb

    Jeff Newcomb Well-Known Member

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    I'm assuming that it's the guy that Mr. Harris said was "calling the restorative shots" at Paramount in his few words about The Ten Commandments.
     
  10. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Not to get into it, but no one should presume that anyone was "fired" by anyone. That is unfair to all parties involved.
     
  11. owen35

    owen35 Well-Known Member

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    At our local theatre here in Alameda, California, they have a Classic Film series twice a week on the BIG screen. Last week they showed a digital projection of Chinatown. Not sure if this was projected via a digital file or Blu-Ray (I've seen them do a BR projection in the past by accidentally projecting the menu), but I was very disappointed in the look of the film. Detail just wasn't there and the colors were a little bland. The comments you made about it just being...well...not right, was the exact same feeling I had.
    I have no idea if what I was seeing was the same source that you are referring to, but it was a big disappointment that this film didn't look as good as I remember it.
     
  12. JoeDoakes

    JoeDoakes Premium
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    By the time the Centennial Edition of To Catch a Thief came out on DVD, it seems from the reviews that the transfer was looking fairly good, which is probably why most people seem to really like the blu, although it might be even better. The Centennial Edition of Chinatown was widely panned as being too dark so I guess Paramount went back to an even earlier transfer. Hopefully, Paramount will rectify this situation as going from releasing some of the best quality blus available to releasing six year old transfers is something of a downer.. Does anyone know what Ron Smith is doing now?
     
  13. Lord Dalek

    Lord Dalek Well-Known Member

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    The one thing I find really annoying about the Centennial edition is that the original mono is actually just a 2.0 stereo mixdown of the 5.1. Obvious foley included.
     
  14. Richard Kaufman

    Richard Kaufman Well-Known Member

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    Argh! I was really looking forward to a beautiful new transfer.
    Thanks, RAH, for your thoughts.
     
  15. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    More on the Stanley Cortez shots from Chinatown...

    From a discussion a friend had with John Alonzo.

    Apparently only two sequences were shot by Mr. Cortez, before he was replaced -- the restaurant scene, and Jake and Evelyn driving at sunset. There is a very romantic quality about them, which seems to be what Mr. Polanski wished to avoid.

    Mr. Alonzo insisted that the "look" of Chinatown was not about himself, but rather, all about Mr. Polanski and his vision. Particularly a favorite of the DP was the shot of Jake's car pulling up to the curb, after he follows Evelyn's car with the broken taillight. Jake's car pulls up and blocks the view of the house across the street. The camera then rises, as if to see what is going on. According to Mr. Alonzo, the camera move mirrored Polanski's diminutive stature, as if Polanski is actually straining to see over the vehicle.

    Great stuff in this film.

    RAH
     
  16. Richard--W

    Richard--W Banned

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    Stanley Cortez references both of those scenes in the interview referred to, and others. He shot more than two scenes. I wasn't judging one cameraman over the other. Chinatown has the advantage of being photographed by two of the best dp's in the business.
    I like the romantic quality of those two shots. They make the harder light in the rest of the film feel harder. There is a kind of continuity in those shots involving the arc of Jake and Mrs. Mulwray's relationship. Cortez's close-ups of Faye Dunaway are classic studio portraiture long after it had gone out of fashion. Cortez tries to capture the mystery of the woman with a hint of her carnality. The difference between Cortez's close-ups of her and Alonzo's is startling.
    Yes, there are many fascinating camera set-ups.
    One of my favorites is the initial interview at the beginning with Mrs. Mulwray. There are two set-ups in this scene, and both are identical. Jake is in the room with his associate behind him. He drags a chair to the foreground and sits down, facing Mrs. Mulwray. He's looking to the right edge of the screen. Cut to Mrs. Mulwray sitting in her chair, with an associate behind her. She's looking toward screen left, at Jake. Polanksi intercuts between their dialogue, while associates in background listen and react, but he never shows Jake and Mrs. Mulwray in the same shot. They sit within a few feet of each other in the same room having a very personal discussion, yet they couldn't be further apart. This is a subtle way of making the audience feel that something isn't right. Then there is the veil she wears. Why wear a veil indoors.
    Of course, it soon transpires she is an imposter, who is setting Jake up. The composition suggests that before the plot confirms it. The brilliance of the execution is that the audience only realizes why the scene is unsettling in retrospect.
    Every camera-set up in Chinatown is a clinic.
    I also appreciate the darkness of the interiors in contrast to the brightness of the sunny exteriors. Dark, but not so dark we can't see the pictures on the wall or read "7 channels used" scrawled across the map book. I'm hopeful that the Blu-ray transfer will get the darkness of the interiors right, particularly the scene where Jake searches Mr. Mulwray's office and enters Ida Sessions apartment.
    I wish somebody could tell me who gave the "love nest" photos to the newspaper. Jake says he didn't do it, and I believe him. So who did? Later he finds "love nest' photos in Ida Sessions apartment. She's dead, and the photos are on the desk. How did she get them? Lt. Escobar accuses Jake of working with Ida Sessions to blackmail Mrs. Mulwray with the photos, but he denies it, and again, I believe him. So who gave Jake's "love nest" photos to Ida Sessions and to the press?
    Does anybody know?
     
  17. Douglas Monce

    Douglas Monce Well-Known Member

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    Here is my take on it....
    The fake Mrs. Mulwray was working for Noah Cross. She gave the photos to him (or one of his men) and he gave them to the paper. Then one of his men killed her, and planted the photos to smear Jake.
    Doug
     
  18. Spencer Draper

    Spencer Draper Well-Known Member

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    That in the spoiler text is pretty much what occurs.
    This is really, really disappointing though not really surprising. I've been looking forward to this release for many years, and it would've be an immediate purchase even though I'm currently without an HD display. The thing is, I've never been happy with the newer transfers. Rented the SCE when it came out, and thought it looked off despite being more detailed. Found the Centennial disc in a library and thought that it was somehow even more off. Now this new disc seems to be from an HD master that was just laying around. It's not bad, just not the revelation of a disc that this film deserves.
    DVDBeaver has posted their Blu-ray review with screencaps: http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film3/blu-ray_reviews56/chinatown_blu-ray.htm
    Though it isn't watching the actual disc, I can see why Robert would say that this does not resemble a film presentation.
    And why, why, why, why do studios always make the 5.1 remix front and center in a big shiny lossless format, while relegating the superior original mono to a tiny Dolby track, if present at all??
    I've always stuck with my original 1999 disc. I know it's got many issues and isn't very detailed, but it was the first way I saw the film, and to my eyes it seems to flow a bit better than the others. I even bought the early 90's LD which looks great on my old CRT. Plus it features PCM mono.
     
  19. David Weicker

    David Weicker Well-Known Member

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    I have pre-ordered this. I've also looked at the DVD Beaver review. I have a feeling I fall into RAH's 99% and will probably love this.
    My question to those who've seen this (and it may only be RAH at this time). Is the DVD (any of the prior versions) more film-like than this new version?
    David
     
  20. Kenneth_C

    Kenneth_C Well-Known Member

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    Guess I'm with you in the 99% club. :)
    I think the screencaps at Beaver look fantastic -- especially in comparison to the earlier DVDs, which were too dark and indistinct. Just look at the shots of Nicholson walking up the driveway or on Catalina. Beautiful!
    If a "better" transfer comes out some day, I'll gladly get it. But I see absolutely no reason to pass on this blu-ray of one of my Top 10.
     

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