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CHINATOWN

 (2,096)
8.22 h 10 min1974X-Ray15
One of the seminal American films of the 1970s, Roman Polanski's detective yarn sees murder and scandal emerge from the drought of 1930s 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.
Directors
Roman Polanski
Starring
Beulah QuoDarrell ZwerlingDenny Arnold
Genres
SuspenseDrama
Subtitles
English [CC]
Audio Languages
English
Rentals include 30 days to start watching this video and 48 hours to finish once started.
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More details

Supporting actors
Richard BakalyaJack NicholsonFaye DunawayJohn HustonDiane LaddBruce GloverJohn HillermanJames HongRoy JensonPerry LopezNoble WillinghamBurt YoungJoe MantellRoy Roberts
Producers
Robert Evans
Studio
Paramount
Purchase rights
Stream instantly Details
Format
Prime Video (streaming online video)
Devices
Available to watch on supported devices

Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

2096 global ratings

  1. 69% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 17% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 8% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 3% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 3% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United Kingdom

BluesboyReviewed in the United Kingdom on 23 November 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
No extras !!!
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This UK blu-ray disc is reviewed as having extras including commentary along with extras featured on previously issued DVD version. IT HAS NONE WHATSOEVER !
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.
17 people found this helpful
Caitlin OwenReviewed in the United Kingdom on 04 August 2020
3.0 out of 5 stars
Style over substance
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China Town [1974] shares many of the characteristics of ‘film noir’ thus making it for many an iconic film. Directed by Roman Polanski, with a solitary jazz trumpet for its background music, Faye Dunaway plays the role of the Evelyn, the beautiful leading lady, while the brooding good looks of Jack Nicholson plays the detective who, with the sinister John Huston [the landowner] set the scene for this convoluted account of crime and murder.
Conversation is minimal, if not cool, but it wasn’t the plot but its highly contrived style, which I found interesting. It has a main plot, that of the struggle for the ownership of water in the Southern States of America, and a sub plot, the incestuous rape of Evelyn, by her father, the murderous landowner, Mulwray [Huston]. This is revealed dramatically at the end of the film by Evelyn’s cry, ‘She’s my daughter and my sister’.
Strangely enough there seem few references to this in the reviews I have read. Perhaps because they are written primarily by men and also before the advent of the ‘me too’ movement. One might also wonder about the influence of Polanski in the development of the subplot, given his now notorious reputation as a rapacious, exploiter of young women.
2 people found this helpful
TLReviewed in the United Kingdom on 18 February 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
An all-time great
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I must have rented this from Amazon for them to ask me to review it but I have seen this movie many times before. It remains one of my all-time favorites. You can read the synopses and reviews for yourself but this movie was to my mind one for the first "modern" (i.e. post 1960s) movies to try to convey an authentic feel of what the 1930s must have been like. This is a brilliant evocation of Los Angeles at that time. One to immerse yourself in.
3 people found this helpful
fastforwardfanReviewed in the United Kingdom on 30 September 2021
3.0 out of 5 stars
Slow murder mystery
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Great actors, and a great director, lovely photography in this neo-noir movie which echoes the Bogart movies of the early ‘40s. So what’s the problem why not five stars then? Well I found it strangely un-involving. The plot is complicated and difficult to follow and after a while I stopped caring. It’s also slow at times, and drags its feet as though this will make people believe it’s an ‘epic’ movie which I don’t think it is. Jack Nicholson is a great actor and you can’t help watch him and wonder what he’s going to do next, and in that sense he’s a good choice for the P.I. role. Unfortunately the whole movie needs to be wound up and made snappier, as it’s feels a bit slo-mo most of the time, which undermines it. Three stars from me.
Anne Eraov-ReviewsReviewed in the United Kingdom on 24 May 2019
4.0 out of 5 stars
Hey-Ho!
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A Private Investigator unravels a murder mystery. Interesting storyline about 'rich white folk' & one man's corruptive, incestuous, murderous ways. Not really my type of movie, but I won't hear a bad word said about the director - who puts in a brief appearance in the movie - good performance with the American accent.

Thank You!
2 people found this helpful
SeatinthestallsReviewed in the United Kingdom on 16 October 2011
5.0 out of 5 stars
History Repeats Itself
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Roman Polanski created an unforgetable film-noir. Although shot in colour, it still retains an authentic feel of place and time.

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.
10 people found this helpful
SpeedigeeReviewed in the United Kingdom on 19 June 2015
4.0 out of 5 stars
Polanski's classic
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Polanski's classic noir thriller based on the Los Angeles water wars, ie the political difficulties over the Owens Valley aqueduct. It presented a vague backdrop for a murder mystery story set in the 1930s. It was a generally entertaining film with some good acting and a very good musical soundtrack by Jerry Goldsmith. The Blu-ray video was good but the sound was better when set to the restored mono rather than the simulated 5.1 Dolby stereo - the latter seemed to be at a lower level compared to the musical soundtrack which made it difficult to set a suitable sound level. For the record this US import will play in the UK and includes all the extras which are apparently missing from the UK version.
4 people found this helpful
Jason ParkesReviewed in the United Kingdom on 02 February 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars
A masterpiece of 20th Century Cinema.
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Chinatown remains one of the great 70s films of all time, alongside such perfect works as The Conformist, The Godfather I&II, Badlands, Shampoo, Mean Streets, Network, The Last Picture Show, The French Connection, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest & The Deer Hunter. Penned by key New-Hollywood screenwriter Robert Towne (The Last Detail) & directed by Roman Polanksi, it recreates a knowing take on film noir. This is done by updating the colour scheme, moving from the chiaroscuro experimentation of film noir such as The Big Heat, Out of the Past & In a Lonely Place to a lush colour scheme utilising orange-filters in an intrigueing manner. The film recreates an era with John A Alonso's cinematography- which sits next to the perfect recreations of era in colour such as Reds, Days of Heaven, Barry Lyndon & Heaven's Gate.
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...
4 people found this helpful
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