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A few words about...™ Chinatown-- in Blu-ray

A Few Words About

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#41 of 100 DeeF

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Posted March 21 2012 - 08:50 AM

I did see this movie in 1974, although I was in high school at the time, so my memory might be faulty. Is it possible the current transfer for the bluray has too much color, too saturated? I recall the original being an overall sepia look, like a black and white noir film that happens to be in color. The current version has too much color -- note the very blue sky when Jack checks out the water supply.

#42 of 100 Lord Dalek

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Posted March 21 2012 - 09:47 AM

While Gary's fallen way off the porch lately with his evaluations, there's still a fair amount of detail and grain in those caps that I might agree with him this time.



#43 of 100 nyguy2046

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Posted March 21 2012 - 01:43 PM

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

I also remember reading more than one interview with Polanski where he said that in addition to the more old-fashioned lighting that Cortez was going for, an equally big component of why he was replaced was that he was taking FAR too long to light each setup. Alonzo, being a younger and more adaptable DP, did not have this problem. Shame about the disc. One of my favorites, and it so deserves flawless treatment at this stage of the game.

#44 of 100 Richard--W

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Posted March 21 2012 - 01:46 PM

Here is my take on it.... [SPOILER=Warning: Spoiler!]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.[/SPOILER] Doug

Yes, that's essentially it, but who gave the photos to Ida Sessions in the first place?

#45 of 100 Mike Frezon

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Posted March 21 2012 - 01:47 PM



Originally Posted by nyguy2046 


I also remember reading more than one interview with Polanski where he said that in addition to the more old-fashioned lighting that Cortez was going for, an equally big component of why he was replaced was that he was taking FAR too long to light each setup. Alonzo, being a younger and more adaptable DP, did not have this problem.
Shame about the disc. One of my favorites, and it so deserves flawless treatment at this stage of the game.


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#46 of 100 nyguy2046

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Posted March 21 2012 - 03:11 PM

Chris:  Welcome to the HTF!  Posted Image

Thank you! Have read the reviews and threads for quite a while and decided to join in and participate in the forums finally. This site is really a boon to film lovers and clears up so much bad information propagated by well-meaning but often under-educated other blu-ray sites/blogs. I am preaching to the choir, but thanks for the welcome!

#47 of 100 haineshisway

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Posted March 21 2012 - 06:08 PM

I did see this movie in 1974, although I was in high school at the time, so my memory might be faulty. Is it possible the current transfer for the bluray has too much color, too saturated? I recall the original being an overall sepia look, like a black and white noir film that happens to be in color. The current version has too much color -- note the very blue sky when Jack checks out the water supply.

You are quite incorrect and yes your memory is playing tricks. The film always had blue skies and it's one of the things I liked most about it, that Polanski and company didn't do the cliche of "golden" and "sepia" in a film about the past. They shot it so it looked like LA actually looked back then - and believe me, that was not sepia. The very blue skies don't have too much color - they are exactly right.

#48 of 100 Douglas Monce

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Posted March 21 2012 - 09:42 PM

Yes, that's essentially it, but who gave the photos to Ida Sessions in the first place?

Jake did when he reported the findings of his investigation. Doug
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#49 of 100 Douglas Monce

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Posted March 21 2012 - 10:45 PM

Almost more remarkable than Cortez being replaced by Alonzo, is the fact that Phillip Lambro completed score (apparently the trailer makes liberal use of his music) was rejected by Robert Evans, and Jerry Goldsmith's now iconic score was written and recorded in 10 days! Doug
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#50 of 100 Trentrunner

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Posted March 22 2012 - 06:57 AM

If memory serves, Chinatown is set in 1937. It was released in 1974. It is currently 2012. So more time has passed between the release date and now than between the release date and the year the film is set. Nostalgia ain't what it used to be. Where's our Chinatown?

#51 of 100 Richard--W

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Posted March 22 2012 - 07:03 AM

Jerry Goldsmith under pressure could do remarkable things. Evidently Stanley Cortez had to be replaced. In his interview, he's very proud of his work on the film, and he takes being replaced very, very hard. It's really sad. But other interviews with the film makers at the AFI indicate why it was necessary. Very sad.

Jake did when he reported the findings of his investigation. Doug

Perhaps we can infer that, but it isn't shown, nor discussed in the film.

#52 of 100 Kenneth_C

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Posted March 22 2012 - 07:42 AM

Jake did when he reported the findings of his investigation. Doug

Perhaps we can infer that, but it isn't shown, nor discussed in the film.

It may not be discussed, but it makes perfect sense. Jake is hired by "Mrs. Mulwray" (Ida Sessions) to track Mulwray. He finds the "love nest" and takes the pictures. He would then turn them over to her, as that's the "proof" she has paid for. And as we saw in the opening scene with Curly, handing over photographic evidence of infidelity is Jake's stock-in-trade.

#53 of 100 Lord Dalek

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Posted March 22 2012 - 08:58 AM



Originally Posted by Trentrunner 
Nostalgia ain't what it used to be. Where's our Chinatown?



Not going to be made... thanks "The Two Jakes"!



#54 of 100 Richard--W

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Posted March 22 2012 - 09:10 AM

Chinatown is your Chinatown. To paraphrase a blurb applied to a noted minstrel, Chinatown is the Chinatown of every generation.

#55 of 100 RKR1970

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Posted March 23 2012 - 03:45 AM

I would not.  He really was their only hope. RAH

With mastering and restoration divided up into two groups inside the Balaban Building, the person who left in September and the people now running restoration didn’t have anything to do with the new "Chinatown" master. Paramount’s mastering department handled it. Sad to say he was their only hope. "Raiders Of The Lost Ark" and "Samson And Delilah" are the final two films he supervised.

#56 of 100 Douglas Monce

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Posted March 23 2012 - 07:40 PM

Jerry Goldsmith under pressure could do remarkable things. Evidently Stanley Cortez had to be replaced. In his interview, he's very proud of his work on the film, and he takes being replaced very, very hard. It's really sad. But other interviews with the film makers at the AFI indicate why it was necessary. Very sad. Perhaps we can infer that, but it isn't shown, nor discussed in the film.

Well Jake never suspected that anything was wrong until Faye Dunaway shows up. So its fairly obvious that the case went just like any other he had been hired to do. He reported his findings to his client and gave her the evidence. Even when the pictures showed up in the paper he wasn't suspicious, thinking it was just a vindictive wife getting revenge on her cheating husband. Doug
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#57 of 100 Douglas Monce

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Posted March 23 2012 - 07:43 PM

With mastering and restoration divided up into two groups inside the Balaban Building, the person who left in September and the people now running restoration didn’t have anything to do with the new "Chinatown" master. Paramount’s mastering department handled it. Sad to say he was their only hope. "Raiders Of The Lost Ark" and "Samson And Delilah" are the final two films he supervised.

My understanding is that Chinatown had been prepared for release on blu-ray a number of years ago, and it was the whole thing with Polanski being arrested that put the brakes on the release. I don't know if this is the same master or not, but that would have been 3 or 4 years ago. Doug
"I'm in great shape, for the shape I'm in."
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#58 of 100 Douglas Monce

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Posted March 23 2012 - 07:46 PM

If memory serves, Chinatown is set in 1937. It was released in 1974. It is currently 2012. So more time has passed between the release date and now than between the release date and the year the film is set. Nostalgia ain't what it used to be. Where's our Chinatown?

I would say that the closest thing to our Chinatown might be L.A. Confidential. But James Ellroy is no Robert Towne when it comes to plot, story and dialog. Come to think of it if you are saying where is our classic murder mystery set 30 years before...I would say the closest thing would be Zodiac. Doug
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#59 of 100 Richard--W

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Posted March 23 2012 - 08:16 PM

Zodiac doesn't operate in a larger context, if you know what I mean, the way Chinatown does. I like Zodiac, but it doesn't have the same internal rot, nor the same black lacquer heart. I don't think we can infer that Jake gave the "love nest" photos to Ida Sessions when she was impersonating Mrs. Mulwray. He says in the barbers he doesn't know how the photos got in the paper, but if he gave them to her, he'd know it was her. There's something missing. Posted Image Posted Image

#60 of 100 Douglas Monce

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Posted March 23 2012 - 09:49 PM

Zodiac doesn't operate in a larger context, if you know what I mean, the way Chinatown does. I like Zodiac, but it doesn't have the same internal rot, nor the same black lacquer heart. I don't think we can infer that Jake gave the "love nest" photos to Ida Sessions when she was impersonating Mrs. Mulwray. He says in the barbers he doesn't know how the photos got in the paper, but if he gave them to her, he'd know it was her. There's something missing. Posted Image Posted Image

I don't think anything else CAN be inferred. Who else would he have given them too? In fact because she is the one who hired him, and because of client confidentiality she is the only one he could have given them too. Surely Mulvihill, or Polanski as the "midget" didn't show up at his office and claim the pictures. I think the comment to the barber was a little bit of Jake "lying a little" and while strictly telling the truth. He knows that Ida (or rather her employer) gave the photos to the press, but he has no direct knowledge of it. Doug
"I'm in great shape, for the shape I'm in."
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