The 1970s belonged to Jack Nicholson. You could say that nearly every
decade belongs to Jack, Jack being Jack. But if Jack retired from film
during the 1970s, he'd already have an impressive resume. "Five Easy
Pieces" (1970). "Carnal Knowledge" (1971). "The King Of Marvin Gardens"
(1972). "The Last Detail" (1973). "One Flew Over The
(1975). In that period of time, he acted in Roman Polanski's superb
film, "Chinatown" (1974). The classic has been re-released on a special
collector's edition DVD.
"Chinatown" is such a well-written and brilliantly acted film that it
seems impossible to imagine that the clash of strong personalities of Robert Evans
(producer), Roman Polanski (director), Robert Townsend (writer), Faye
Dunaway (actress) and Nicholson didn't derail this film. Whatever
tension they had works in spades in this detective story.
The film has been seen probably by most people, so the story is probably
known. If you haven't seen it before, now is your chance. What starts
out to be a detective story catches you off guard and takes you, along
with J.J. "Jake" Gittes (Nicholson), into a dark place. Townsend uses
the fight over water in sun-drenched Los Angeles during the 1930s as
a backdrop. Along the way, Gittes meets corrupt and dangerous people,
nearly everyone of them with something to hide.
The film is very adult in theme, yet moves along at a brisk enough pace
that keeps you engaged. It tries not to take it self so seriously that
it becomes ponderous and arrogant in trying to be an "artistic film."
The film is artsy and entertaining at the same time. The acting,
direction, production design, cinematography meld together into a
Polanski lets the action play out, at times, in long takes. He uses the
widescreen to his advantage. Compressed onto a television screen, even
in its letterboxed glory, Polanski's direction needs a real movie
theater screen to be appreciated. Cinematographer John A. Alonzo used
both widescreen framing and hand-held camerawork to give this homage to
1940s detective stories a new spin. I was fortunate enough to have seen
"Chinatown" on a big widescreen some years ago. As good as this DVD is,
Alonzo's cinematography is even more remarkable on a big movie screen.
Nicholson takes off where Humphrey Bogart left off in "The Maltese
Falcon." He's hard-boiled and dogged in his pursuit of solving the
mystery unfolding before him. The chemistry between him and Dunaway is
electric, for lack of a better term.
If you haven't seen it in a long time, uncut, do yourself a favor and
Special thanks to Click Communications
Photos: © Paramount Pictures. All rights reserved.
Mystery and great acting make "Chinatown"
Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Houston
The late John A.
Alonzo's cinematography is excellent
Who would've thought that a story dealing with the fight over L.A. water
would work so well?
Dolby Digital 5.1
DVD RELEASE DATE
November 6, 2007