5 user 3 critic

The Man Who Shot Chinatown: The Life and Work of John A. Alonzo (2007)

An insightful documentary on one of the greatest Hollywood cinematographers, the talented John A. Alonzo (1934-2001). With more than 80 credits to his resume in a distinguished career that ... See full summary »


Axel Schill


Add Image Add an image

Do you have any images for this title?



Credited cast:
John A. Alonzo ... Himself (archive footage)
Michael Crichton ... Himself
Richard Dreyfuss ... Himself
Roger Ebert ... Himself
Sally Field ... Herself
Mike Figgis ... Himself
William Friedkin ... Himself
James Wong Howe ... Himself (archive footage)
Martin Ritt ... Himself (archive footage)
Frank Sinatra Jr. ... Himself
John Toll ... Himself
Haskell Wexler ... Himself


An insightful documentary on one of the greatest Hollywood cinematographers, the talented John A. Alonzo (1934-2001). With more than 80 credits to his resume in a distinguished career that lasted more than 30 years, Alonzo is best known for his extensive and creative work in Chinatown (1974), which earned him an Oscar nomination. Actors, specialists and friends discuss about his life and work, and the certain lack of recognition he suffered for a certain period in the business. Written by Rodrigo Amaro

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Life and work of John Alonzo, one of the greatest cinematographers of cinema



Official Sites:

Official site [Germany]




English | German | Spanish

Release Date:

15 November 2007 (Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

A férfi, aki a Kínai negyedet fényképezte See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA


Box Office


€500,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


(TV) (2010)

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Features Deuces Wild (2002) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Great Tribute to a Great Artist
2 July 2010 | by Rodrigo_AmaroSee all my reviews

The documentary "The Man Who Shot Chinatown: The Life and Work of John A. Alonzo" is a fascinating look into the work and life of one of the most underrated figures of the movie industry, cinematographer John A. Alonzo (1934-2001). Inovative and hard worker he made the cinematography of 79 movies, some of the greatest movies of all time such as "Chinatown" (his only Oscar nomination) and "Scarface"; worked as an actor in his early years in Hollywood (he has a small role in "The Magnificent Seven") and even worked along with the great James Wong Howe, one of the most significant names of cinematography in Hollywood.

In the documentary footage of Alonzo's interviews and interviews with film critic Roger Ebert, actors Richard Dreyfuss (worked with Alonzo in "Lansky" and "Fail Safe") and Sally Field (worked with Alonzo in "Norma Rae" and "Steel Magnolias"), cinematographer Haskell Wexler and many of his friends and family presents us the professional, the family man and the friend in interesting testimonies. William Friedkin (who knew Alonzo from long time but only worked with him in "The Guardian") gives a great and relevant look on Alonzo's talented work including the exceptional lightning and the spectacular aerial shots of "Blue Thunder".

Documentaries that evoke the life and work of someone who worked behind the cameras on important films are very rare and this is well made except for the lack of information on Alonzo's final films, and for countless error on the year of release of many movies presented. Example: "Norma Rae" appears credited as released in 1978 but it was released in the following year. This kind of thing might seem not much of a big thing but it takes a little of the credibility of the researches of this documentary and provides wrong informations.

Another thing (noticed by other reviewer on IMDb also) it's the fact that the title of this documentary focused too much in "Chinatown" but when you watch it there's too little about it, and no one involved in "Chinatown" appeared to talk about his work on it. Not only he was nominated for an Oscar for his work (Polanski fired the first DP after this last one not follow his instructions) but he changed the face and the usual way of the film noir genre. This wasn't told in the documentary but if you take a look at the films noir they were all in black and white and Alonzo introduced colors, different lightning and the important use of shadows (Ebert mentions the shadows) in "Chinatown" establishing a whole new concept of film noir.

Except for that it's a must see documentary for anybody who enjoys movies and enjoys to know interesting things of what happens behind the scenes of great movies. On the rolling credits there's a few funny things about Alonzo and one story in particularly in told by Martin Ritt's daughter about how her father never was able to fix his TV when it was out of tune and he called to John Alonzo to fix it every time that happened. This funny story is presented in a good short animation. Very good! 9/10

1 of 2 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 5 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Popular Action and Adventure Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular action and adventure titles available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial

Recently Viewed