‘Chinatown’ Due on Limited-Edition 4K Ultra HD June 18 for 50th Anniversary

Paramount Home Entertainment will release the 1974 noir classic Chinatown on limited-edition 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc on June 18 for its 50th anniversary.

In the film, Jack Nicholson is private eye Jake Gittes, living off the murky moral climate of sunbaked, pre-war Southern California. Hired by a beautiful socialite (Faye Dunaway) to investigate her husband’s extra-marital affair, Gittes is swept into a maelstrom of double dealings and deadly deceits, uncovering a web of personal and political scandals that come crashing together for one, unforgettable night. The film inspired by real events also stars John Huston.

Robert Towne’s Academy Award-winning screenplay weaves a tragic and shocking tale of corruption, greed, and the human propensity for evil.  

Produced by the legendary Robert Evans, Chinatown was originally released on June 26, 1974, and received 11 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. In 1991, the film was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the United States National Film Registry as being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.”

The limited-edition “Paramount Presents” release includes the restored film on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc for the first time ever. The restoration was completed using the original camera negative, which was repaired using the latest technology in areas that had been previously damaged, according to Paramount. 

“The result is a sparkling 4K Ultra HD presentation that uses more of the best possible source than previous masters and faithfully captures the film’s distinctively dreamy and simultaneously realistic look,” according to the Paramount press release.

The release includes new and legacy bonus content, access to a digital copy of the film, and a bonus Blu-ray with the 1990 sequel The Two Jakes, directed by and starring Jack Nicholson and written by Robert Towne.

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New bonus content includes:

  • “A State of Mind: Author Sam Wasson on Chinatown,” in which Sam Wasson, film historian and bestselling author of The Big Goodbye: Chinatown and the Last Years of Hollywood, discusses the importance of the film and its legacy;
  • “Chinatown Memories,” in which producer Hawk Koch shares stories from his time as assistant director on the film; and
  • “The Trilogy That Never Was,” in which Sam Wasson discusses the planned third installment of what would have been a trio of movies featuring the character Jake Gittes. 
     

Additional legacy bonus content includes:

  • commentary by screenwriter Robert Towne with David Fincher;
    “Water and Power”;
  • “Chinatown: An Appreciation”;
  • “Chinatown: The Beginning and the End”;
  • “Chinatown: Filming”;
  • “Chinatown: Legacy”; and
  • the theatrical trailer.

 

Three Days of the Condor

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Kino Lorber;
Thriller;
$24.95 Blu-ray, $39.95 UHD BD;
Rated ‘R.’
Stars Robert Redford, Faye Dunaway, Max von Sydow, Cliff Robertson, John Houseman, Addison Powell, Walter McGinn, Tina Chen, Jess Osuna, Hank Garrett.

Pretty much everything about Three Days of the Condor screams ’70s spy thriller.

From its retro futuristic credits font to its music to the technology on display, the film is very much a product of its time. Even director Sydney Pollack makes this point in an old commentary included on the Blu-ray that he must have recorded it over 20 years ago, a few years prior to his death in 2008.

Based on the novel Six Days of the Condor, the 1975 film version jettisons most aspects of the book aside from a few basic plot elements and most of the title (several people in the bonus materials joke that the film didn’t have the budget to drag out the story more than three days).  Robert Redford plays Joe Turner, code name Condor, an analyst for a small CIA branch office in New York who reads a variety of foreign novels looking for patterns that could indicate clandestine real-world activities. After he files a report suggesting a group of rogue operators exists within the CIA, his office is targeted for termination.

Turner returns from lunch to find all his co-workers have been shot, and he immediately goes into hiding. Unsure of who to trust, he kidnaps Kathy (Faye Dunaway), a random woman he encounters on the street, using her apartment as a hideout while he tries to figure out who murdered his friends and why.

Between its old-fashioned computers and Turner’s infiltration of the phone network to gather information on his enemies, it wouldn’t be a shock if anyone born in the 21st century had no idea what was happening. However, the film being dated doesn’t diminish its impact or entertainment value, as at its core it’s still a very effective cat-and-mouse thriller populated with memorable characters and layered in detail.

It turns out the scheme Turner stumbled upon involved the U.S. destabilizing regimes in the Middle East in order to control the world’s oil supply — which turned out to be quite a prescient notion, both in terms of the exposure of the CIA’s of underhanded foreign policy tactics that was happening concurrently with the film’s production, and the looming energy crisis that was a few years away.

Modern audiences will most likely recognize the story element of an agency within an agency from Marvel’s 2014 film Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which was so influenced by Condor that its makers even cast Redford in a key role (a reprisal of which in a cameo in 2019’s Avengers: Endgame marks his final on-screen appearance to date).

Three Days of the Condor also bears remarkable star power for its day, filled with some of its era’s most iconic faces. Dunaway, cast to bring the film some notable female starpower, was a year away from capturing an Oscar for her role as a duplicitous TV programmer in Network. Cliff Robertson plays a CIA deputy director who becomes central to Turner’s investigation. John Houseman, Orson Welles’ old producer buddy, makes a welcome appearance as one of the leaders of the conspiracy. He was coming off an Oscar win for 1973’s The Paper Chase, and a few months prior to Condor’s release he played a similar character in Rollerball. And Max von Sydow is great as the mercenary in charge of the hit squad in pursuit of Turner.

For its new Blu-ray and 4K editions of Three Days of the Condor, Kino Lorber offers a remastered version of the film scanned from the original 35mm negative, with great results. It’s not flashy or in your face, but this is what classic, gritty films are supposed to feel like.

Kino has also assembled a decent package of legacy extras, with two featurettes made for earlier Studio Canal European releases of the film on disc. The 25-minute “More About the Condor” is a 2003 reflection on the making of the film from Redford and Pollack, while the hour-long “Something About Sydney Pollack” is a 2004 retrospective of the director’s career.

In addition to the thorough decades-old commentary from Pollack, there’s also a newly recorded commentary about the film’s context, impact and legacy from film historians Steve Mitchell and Nathaniel Thompson.

Rounding out the extras is the film’s trailer.

‘Mommy Dearest’ Debuting on Blu-ray June 1 in Paramount Presents Line

The campy drama Mommy Dearest will come out on Blu-ray Disc for the first time June 1 from Paramount Home Entertainment.

Released for its 40th anniversary, the film will be part of the Paramount Presents catalog line.

Based on Christina Crawford’s controversial best-selling, tell-all novel, the film stars Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford, struggling for her career while battling the inner demons of her private life. While the public Crawford was a strong-willed, glamorous object of admiration, behind the scenes was a private Crawford — the woman desperate to be a single mother and trying to survive in a devastating industry that swallows careers thoughtlessly.

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Newly restored from a 4K film transfer, Mommy Dearest will be presented in a limited-edition with collectible packaging featuring a foldout image of the film’s theatrical poster and an interior spread with key movie moments. The Blu-ray includes a new “Filmmaker Focus” on the film with biographer Justin Bozung and its director Frank Perry, a new audio commentary with American drag queen Hedda Lettuce, access to a digital copy of the film, as well as previously released bonus content. Other special features include commentary by filmmaker John Waters; “The Revival of Joan”; “Life with Joan”; “Joan Lives On”; a photo gallery; and the original theatrical trailer.