Paramount Presents: Chinatown 4K Review

By Allison Rose   X Formly Known as Twitter
3 Min Read

The cast of Chinatown is well chosen and Nicholson has the right amount of “swagger” and confidence to pull off the cocky private eye.

Paramount Presents: Chinatown 4K Review
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"Forget it, Jake, it's Chinatown." That one sentence, uttered in the final scene of the 1974 movie, Chinatown, sums up the motivation for the main character, J.J. "Jake" Gittes (Jack Nicholson; One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest).  The former cop turned private investigator, finding himself caught up in a land ownership scheme, tried to do everything he could to take down the guilty parties and save the real victim,  Evelyn Cross-Mulwray (Faye Dunaway, Bonnie and Clyde). Unfortunately, things didn't end how he had hoped and a shell-shocked Gittes is pulled away by his associates while one of them recites the line, harkening back to a similar situation Gittes found himself in years prior. 

Evelyn Mulwray walks into J.J. Gittes' office and asks him to prove her husband, Hollis (Darrell Zwerling; Grease), is having an affair.  When Gittes gets the proof and then suddenly finds his photo of the cheating husband and his mistress published on the front page of the newspaper, he doesn't think much of it.  However, a few days later, the REAL Mrs. Mulwray comes to Gittes' office and he realizes something is wrong.  Things get even worse when Mr. Mulwray winds up dead and suddenly both Mrs. Mulwray and her father, Noah Cross (John Houston; The Treasure of the Sierra Madre) want to hire Gittes.  Through his investigation and his search for the missing mistress, Gittes discovers there is much more going on than anyone is willing to say.

The cast of this feature film is well chosen and Nicholson has the right amount of "swagger" and confidence to pull off the cocky private eye.  Dunaway is perfect as Mrs Mulwray, providing moments of pure inner strength while offering a soft, gentle side that makes the men in the scenes want to take care of her.  Houston commands attention every time he is on screen and the rest of the actors compliment these acting powerhouses without distracting the audience from the movie.

The 4K disc is presented in Dolby Vision HDR and the upgrade is striking.  While there is only so much you can do with a fifty-year-old negative, the daytime scenes are sharp and clean with plenty of brightness to showcase the detail.  Night scenes are harder to see but still look newer than in 1974.

The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio is equally impressive, especially considering the original track was mono.  Dialogue is a little softer than sound effects requiring the viewer to have their television remote nearby to adjust the volume but gunshots and car motors sound pretty good.

Paramount ports over all the extras from the 2012 Blu-ray and includes two brand new featurettes as well. They are The Two Jakes on Blu-ray, NEW! Featurette: "A State of Mind: Author Sam Wasson on Chinatown", NEW! Featurette: "The Trilogy That Never Was", Audio Commentary with Screenwriter Robert Towne and director David Fincher, Documentary: "Water and Power", Featurette: "Chinatown: An Appreciation", Featurette: "Chinatown: The Beginning and the End", Featurette: "Chinatown: Filming", Featurette: "Chinatown: The Legacy", and Theatrical Trailer. 

Paramount Pictures started these Paramount Presents releases during the COVID-19 pandemic and from the very beginning, the movies they have given us have had excellent technical specifications while showing that a great deal of care has been taken in the restoration and upgrading process.   In the case of Chinatown, those specs coupled with an intriguing story and Academy Award-winning actors make for a terrific purchasing choice that no fans should pass up.  

These classic films need to live on for generations to come and this combo pack should have a place in every home entertainment collection.

Grade: A-

Directed By:
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 130 minutes
Distributed By: Paramount Pictures

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For more information about Chinatown visit the FlickDirect Movie Database. This release has been provided to FlickDirect for review purposes. For more reviews by Allison Rose please click here.

Chinatown images are courtesy of Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

FlickDirect, Allison   Rose

Allison Rose, a Senior Correspondent and Critic at FlickDirect, is a dynamic presence in the entertainment industry with a communications degree from Hofstra University. She brings her film expertise to KRMS News/Talk 97.5 FM and broadcast television, and is recognized as a Tomatometer-Approved Critic. Her role as an adept event moderator in various entertainment industry forums underscores her versatility. Her affiliations with SEFCA, the Florida Film Critics Circle, and the Online Film Critics Society highlight her as an influential figure in film criticism and media.


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