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Chinatown


cigarjoe
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Not "the" movie but the various Hollywood depictions of Chinatowns in films, some location, some studio. 

I like the San Francisco location shots in The Lady from Shanghai, another film with SF is Impact. Once Upon A Time In America has a great studio set Chinatown theater and opium den and Hammett has a great studio set Chinatown. Big Trouble In Little China has a combination of both sets and studio.

Lets name more films... And as a bonus, lets name the impressive Chinatowns you've been to.

 

Growing up in NYC, Manhattan's Chinatown is my benchmark. It's growing way beong it's old traditional limits and has almost wiped out Little Italy. There is also a second New York City Chinatown in Brooklyn one in Sunset Park. It's predominantly of Fuzhou immigrants from Fujian Province in China, it is now increasingly common to refer to it as the Little Fuzhou or Fuzhou Town. Their are other offshoots in Bensonhurst, and Avenue U in Sheepshead Bay and newer satellite Chinatowns in Bay Ridge, Borough Park, Coney Island, Dyker Heights, Gravesend, and Marine Park. 

 

So with Manhattan's Chinatown to compare by so far in my travels around the US I was really (no disrespect intended) disappointed with the Chinatowns of Los Angeles and Seattle, practically non existent by comparison, but at least that have some type of district. I don't think Miami has anything close to even that level.

I've heard that Victoria British Columbia has a great Chinatown, wondering about Vancouver B.C., and Portland Oregon, and what about San Diego? 

 

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I'm afraid this won't be very interesting, because I cannot remember the name of the film, but I know that at some point "Noir Alley" aired a film that had a lot of location settings in L.A.'s Chinatown. (I think it involved a guy who had amnesia? Appropriate I can't remember the name of the movie when it was about someone with a memory problem !)

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31 minutes ago, misswonderly3 said:

at some point "Noir Alley" aired a film that had a lot of location settings in L.A.'s Chinatown.

Curious which one now. There aren't a whole lot of amnesia Noir's, they are sort of like Detective based noirs. 

The Crooked Way, and Somewhere In The Night come to mind. I know there are more.

 

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1 hour ago, cigarjoe said:

Not "the" movie but the various Hollywood depictions of Chinatowns in films, some location, some studio. 

I like the San Francisco location shots in The Lady from Shanghai, another film with SF is Impact. Once Upon A Time In America has a great studio set Chinatown theater and opium den and Hammett has a great studio set Chinatown. Big Trouble In Little China has a combination of both sets and studio.

Lets name more films... And as a bonus, lets name the impressive Chinatowns you've been to.

 

Growing up in NYC, Manhattan's Chinatown is my benchmark. It's growing way beong it's old traditional limits and has almost wiped out Little Italy. There is also a second New York City Chinatown in Brooklyn one in Sunset Park. It's predominantly of Fuzhou immigrants from Fujian Province in China, it is now increasingly common to refer to it as the Little Fuzhou or Fuzhou Town. Their are other offshoots in Bensonhurst, and Avenue U in Sheepshead Bay and newer satellite Chinatowns in Bay Ridge, Borough Park, Coney Island, Dyker Heights, Gravesend, and Marine Park. 

 

So with Manhattan's Chinatown to compare by so far in my travels around the US I was really (no disrespect intended) disappointed with the Chinatowns of Los Angeles and Seattle, practically non existent by comparison, but at least that have some type of district. I don't think Miami has anything close to even that level.

I've heard that Victoria British Columbia has a great Chinatown, wondering about Vancouver B.C., and Portland Oregon, and what about San Diego? 

 

Wasnt the Old Chinatown in LA moved at some point? I cant remember when. That might have something to do with it. I cant remember the Noir Alley film. Wasnt it the one with Barbara Hale and her hubby?

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7 minutes ago, Hibi said:

Wasnt the Old Chinatown in LA moved at some point? I cant remember when. That might have something to do with it. I cant remember the Noir Alley film. Wasnt it the one with Barbara Hale and her hubby?

It used to be I think where Union Station is now. but that was built before the Classic Noir era.

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As a kid in the 1950s and whenever some of our relatives from back east(mostly from Indiana) would come to visit us in L.A., one of the places my parents would invariably take them to would be downtown L.A.'s "New" Chinatown, along with its closely located Mexican themed tourist spot of Olvera Street.

And yeah, CJ, even as kid and at a time when in one's life things seem bigger than they actually are, even back then I remember thinking that L.A.'s "New" Chinatown was a rather small place.

(...ah, sweet memories of youth)

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1 hour ago, misswonderly3 said:

I'm afraid this won't be very interesting, because I cannot remember the name of the film, but I know that at some point "Noir Alley" aired a film that had a lot of location settings in L.A.'s Chinatown. (I think it involved a guy who had amnesia? Appropriate I can't remember the name of the movie when it was about someone with a memory problem !)

One Noir Alley film that might fit the bill is The Clay Pigeon (1949). There's a sequence where some bad guys are chasing a man who has awakened from a coma through Chinatown.

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2 hours ago, Hibi said:

Wasnt the Old Chinatown in LA moved at some point? I cant remember when. That might have something to do with it. I cant remember the Noir Alley film. Wasnt it the one with Barbara Hale and her hubby?

Oh, you're good ! I looked up Barbara Hale, found her filmography, and from there located the movie I was trying to remember. It was The Clay Pigeon.

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1 hour ago, cmovieviewer said:

One Noir Alley film that might fit the bill is The Clay Pigeon (1949). There's a sequence where some bad guys are chasing a man who has awakened from a coma through Chinatown.

 

Thanks, cmovieviewer !  I already congratulated Hibi for remembering the film had Barbara Hale in it, but you've gone one better, you've got the movie title and everything.

That's it  -  Clay Pigeon. I remember, or so it seemed to me at the time of watching, it had a lot of Chinatown settings. (But maybe it just had one or two, but they were especially memorable...)

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6 minutes ago, misswonderly3 said:

Thanks, cmovieviewer !  I already congratulated Hibi for remembering the film had Barbara Hale in it, but you've gone one better, you've got the movie title and everything.

That's it  -  Clay Pigeon. I remember, or so it seemed to me at the time of watching, it had a lot of Chinatown settings. (But maybe it just had one or two, but they were especially memorable...)

Yeah, and which ironically is located just a few blocks away from downtown L.A.'s Della Street.

(...sorry...just couldn't resist)

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Related to a different L.A. Asian area,  I like the noir The Crimson Kimono, which features Little Tokyo.   The film is set in the late 50s.    I would go there with my Japaneses mom in the late 60s and it still looked very similar to what I saw in the film.

I highly recommend The Crimson Kimono as a well balanced film, with a solid detective story,  and an undercurrent of racial tension and the 'mixing' of peoples.  

 

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In John Carpenter's underappreciated 1986 action/comedy "Big Trouble in Little China," Kurt Russell channels John Wayne (his Snake Plissken from Carpenter's "Escape from New York" and "Escape from L.A." was inspired by Clint Eastwood). The film, which also stars Kim Cattrall, Victor Wong, Dennis Dun and James Hong, is set in San Francisco's Chinatown.

 

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In Michael Cimino's underappreciated 1985 police drama "Year of the Dragon," Mickey Rourke plays a brash cop who cracks down on illegal operations in New York's Chinatown. Based on the 1981 novel by Robert Daley, the film also stars John Lone, Ariane, Dennis Dun, Raymond J. Barry and Victor Wong. 

Cimino adapted the screenplay with Oliver Stone.

 

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19 hours ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

Related to a different L.A. Asian area,  I like the noir The Crimson Kimono, which features Little Tokyo.   The film is set in the late 50s.    I would go there with my Japaneses mom in the late 60s and it still looked very similar to what I saw in the film.

I highly recommend The Crimson Kimono as a well balanced film, with a solid detective story,  and an undercurrent of racial tension and the 'mixing' of peoples.  

 

Your post here James has me wondering if one of the reasons L.A.'s Chinatown was never anything to write home about, size-wise that is, might be because I always got the impression that the pre-and post war Japanese immigrant population of L.A. might have always been larger than the Chinese immigrant population of this same era, and with the Chinese immigrant population always being larger up on the S.F. Bay area.

I most likely got this impression because of what part of the Greater Los Angeles area I was raised in -- the L.A. suburb of Gardena, and where so many of my fellow classmates were of the Sansei generation, and with many if not all of their parents having gone through the whole unfortunate "Relocation" process during the Second World War.

(...and so I wonder if my perception of this might be true...any thoughts?...anyone?)

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I don't recall visiting a Chinatown in Portland Oregon or Portland Maine-been to both several times. 

The only interior US Chinatown I visited was in Milwaukee, I believe. It was elaborately decorated with iron dragons on the street lamps and featured really tall tenement style buildings with giant dragon/dog statues..

I recall only a few tchotchke stores open where I purchased a lenticular magnet, but like most of Milwaukee, the streets were pretty desolate.

If you want to see photos, I can dig some out (also would confirm exactly what city it was on that midwestern trip)

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Portland's Chinatown is on the eastern side of downtown (on the other side of W. Burnside), close to the Willamette river which divides the "west side" and "east side" of Portland.  

It has an entrance, some gold lions, and some fancy lightposts:

3c4a20d2-a642-40ba-a905-3adda4005866.jpg

The Chinatown area, which is also part of "Old Town," is the oldest neighborhood in Portland.  Compared to the nicer parts of downtown Portland, like the Pearl District or the areas around Pioneer Square, Old Town/Chinatown can look a little run down.  There used to be a lot of Chinese restaurants down there, the biggest one, "House of Louie" closed a few years ago.  There was a restaurant with the hilarious name of "Hung Far Low" that closed a few years ago.  For the most part, during the daytime, there isn't much to do here.  There's an awesome arcade, Ground Kontrol, that I go to occasionally.  There's also the Saturday Market on the Waterfront that extends a couple blocks into the neighborhood that is popular on weekends March through Christmas.  Chinatown is also home to the Chinese Garden.  I haven't been to this, but it seems to be popular.  There was also the "Church of Elvis," but it has since closed.

At night though, there's a lot of nightlife, with multiple clubs, and a drag show at "Darcelle's."  Darcelle is a female impersonator and his club is a Portland institution.  This area can be a little sketchy at night, due to the combination of alcohol, high homeless population (there are quite a few shelters in this area), and a lot of people.  There is an increased police presence at night.  There is also the popular Voodoo doughnuts that always has lines extending around the block.  TIP: Voodoo Doughnuts are not worth waiting in that long of a line! 

Like many of the older, more "used" looking neighborhoods, Chinatown is starting to go through gentrification in an effort to spruce up the neighborhood.  More trendy restaurants, shops, hotels, etc. are popping up down there. 

If this area didn't have the big fancy entrance, there's no way of knowing that it's supposed to be "Chinatown."  It is nothing like San Francisco's Chinatown--most of the Chinese restaurants, shops, people, etc. are no longer here.

 

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19 hours ago, Dargo said:

Your post here James has me wondering if one of the reasons L.A.'s Chinatown was never anything to write home about, size-wise that is, might be because I always got the impression that the pre-and post war Japanese immigrant population of L.A. might have always been larger than the Chinese immigrant population of this same era, and with the Chinese immigrant population always being larger up on the S.F. Bay area.

I most likely got this impression because of what part of the Greater Los Angeles area I was raised in -- the L.A. suburb of Gardena, and where so many of my fellow classmates were of the Sansei generation, and with many if not all of their parents having gone through the whole unfortunate "Relocation" process during the Second World War.

(...and so I wonder if my perception of this might be true...any thoughts?...anyone?)

It was always my impression that the Japanese L.A. area population was slightly larger than the Chinese one as well as more prominent in terms of recognition \ political power.     When my dad brought my mom from Japan and settled in the area they moved to Gardena, which is where I was born (my older brother was born in Tokyo).   We lived in Gardena and my mom felt almost 'at home' in the area (e.g. we had other Japanese neighbors and I had a few friends that were 'like me').    But after the Watts riots we moved to Orange Country.   My mom was very lonely and she would go to visit her friends in Gardena about every other week.    Dad still worked in downtown L.A. and would often stay there for long periods of time (it wasn't until 30 years later did I found out he had started another family with another Asian lady, but that is a whole other story!!!!).

PS:  For Thanksgiving, like we normally do,  we are going to my sisters with mom etc... and on Friday to my half-brothers house for Thanksgiving with dad and the half-brother's family.   Mom doesn't know that dad has another family and believes the last time we saw him was over 25 years ago! 

        

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  • 2 weeks later...

Continuing my survey..... How about Chicago, and New Orleans, do either have a district that could be considered a Chinatown?

Canada - I heard that Victoria BC has a nice one but how about Vancouver, Montreal, Quebec City?

Mexico - Mexico City what about it?

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