To Live And Die In L.A. didn’t catch on at the box office but it became a cult favorite on home video and has enjoyed a qual­i­ty after­life in var­i­ous for­mats over the years.  MGM did a decent lit­tle spe­cial edi­tion DVD in 2003 that was sub­se­quent­ly car­ried over to blu-ray in 2010. However, there was room for improve­ment — and Shout tladila-bluSelect has made good on that poten­tial.

The trans­fer on this disc is derived from a new 4K scan super­vised by direc­tor William Friedkin.  The details have a new crisp­ness and the sat­u­rat­ed col­or scheme comes across even more bold­ly here.  A loss­less 5.1 stereo sound­track is offered here and it sounds great, with the Wang Chung score and lots of oth­er son­ic details given a rich sur­round sound pres­ence.

Fans will be hap­py to know all the 2003-era extras are car­ried over here and a set of new inter­views are added to flesh things out.  Read on for a run­down of every­thing includ­ed…

Commentary:  this a solo track with William Friedkin that dates back to the 2003 edi­tion.  It’s a strong and con­sis­tent­ly com­pelling com­men­tary that mix­es scene-speci­fic anec­dotes with a run­ning account of the film’s con­cep­tion and pro­duc­tion.  Friedkin talks about how he was drawn to the sur­re­al­ism of a Secret Service agent’s life and gets into his approach­es to direct­ing actors and craft­ing visu­als.  He ana­lyzes sev­er­al sto­ry points in terms of a the­me of “coun­ter­feit rela­tion­ships” that he sees as key to the film — and lis­ten out for a nice trib­ute to Steve James and a funny/scary tale about how Friedkin found him­self in con­flict with the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment.

William Petersen Interview (20:41):  the vet­er­an actor has a lot of fun relat­ing a string of anec­dotes here.  He starts with the shock­ing ease of how he land­ed the role (Gary Sinise played a role in this) and then dis­cuss­es the speed of the work, the shoot­ing of the car chase and pris­on sce­nes and a fun­ny tale about the film’s air­port chase sequence.

Buddy Joe Hooker Interview (35:38): the vet­er­an stunt coör­di­na­tor gets to explore his work on this film in great depth.  He starts with a glob­al view of how the stunt busi­ness worked in his day before get­ting deep into the details of the epic car chase he cre­at­ed for the film.  You’ll learn about how they did the jack­knif­ing truck and a how a “swivel car” rig was used to place the actors safe­ly in the stunt.  He also gives plen­ty of detail on his work­ing rela­tion­ship with Friedkin, whom he cred­its for being a direc­tor who both enabled and financed inno­va­tion in his crew.


Wang Chung Interview (12:43): an engag­ing chat with the musi­cal duo of Jack Hues and Nick Feldman.  They reveal the song that brought them to the atten­tion of Friedkin and then give an enthu­si­as­tic account of their col­lab­o­ra­tion with the direc­tor, who made their job easy by keep­ing inter­fer­ence to a min­i­mum and being clear on what he want­ed.  There’s also an amus­ing anec­dote on how focused his tem­per could be.

Debra Feuer Interview (14:55): this actress reveals how she pri­mar­i­ly land­ed her role through the easy chem­istry she dis­played with Willem Dafoe and then focus­es on Friedkin’s direc­tion, which she prais­es for being intu­itive and geared towards nat­u­ral­is­tic act­ing.  She gives sev­er­al exam­ples, includ­ing how skill­ful­ly he han­dled the chal­lenge of the nude sce­nes.

Dwier Brown Interview (8:52) a quick chat with this actor, who would lat­er play a lead role for Friedkin in The Guardian.  He played a one-scene role on To Live And Die In L.A. and talks about the thrill of its improv-ori­ent­ed audi­tion as well as how he enjoyed work­ing with fel­low Chicago actors Petersen and John Pankow.  He also has a fun anec­dote about The Guardian.

Deleted Scene And Alternate Ending (12:06): This con­sists of a quick delet­ed scene that gives a glimpse into the per­son­al life of the char­ac­ter of Vukovich and an end­ing that was hasti­ly filmed to pla­cate the pro­duc­ers before being pulled.  Friedkin intro­duces both and explains his take on why both weren’t into the film, along with some sup­port from his cast and producer/editor Bud Smith.  The tales on the bogus end­ing are pret­ty fun­ny.


Counterfeit World (29:51): this mak­ing-of fea­turet­te was pro­duced for the 2003 spe­cial edi­tion of To Live And Die In L.A.  It includes Friedkin, Smith and sev­er­al key cast mem­bers.  It cov­ers much of the same back­ground mate­ri­al you’ll learn else­where on this disc but there’s some neat behind-the-sce­nes footage pro­vid­ed by Smith.  It’s also inter­est­ing to hear from Pankow, Dafoe and Darlanne Fluegel, with the lat­ter two mak­ing their only appear­ances in the extras here.

Other Extras: a still gallery, an excel­lent MTV-style trail­er and a radio spot that plays up the film’s Wang Chung score

To read Schlockmania’s film review of To Live And Die In L.A., click here.