L.A. Confidential (20th Anniversary Edition)

L.A. Confidential is a sublimely complex story of police corruption in 1950’s era Los Angeles.

On its 20th anniversary, I remember “L.A. Confidential” for three reasons. It was my one-and-only chance to interview Russell Crowe one-on-one (20 years ago at a TV station in Atlanta). Two, it’s an awards-worthy thriller. And, three, the new special edition DVD is missing most of its advertised extras. What the heck is going on?

At first, I assumed it was “operator error.” I have been known to be technologically challenged from time to time. But, I REALLY can’t find the extras billed on the DVD’s label. They were supposed to include vintage cast/creator interviews, director Curtis Hanson’s Photo Pitch, an interactive map tour, and a music track highlighting Jerry Goldsmith’s excellent score. There were also supposed to be production notes and the theatrical trailer and TV spots. You know, the usual home entertainment extras you would expect to come along with any major film.

What I DID find on this one-disc special edition was audio commentaries provided by cast and crew. But, the presentation, unfortunately, was disappointing because it was frequently unclear who was speaking at any given time. The participants in the commentaries obviously were recorded separately, so there was none of those chummy back-and-forth recollections of making the film that you might expect in a multi-participant commentary. Instead it was just the filmmakers giving their solo takes on how the movie was made two decades ago.

So, where are the missing DVD extras? Well, recently the distribution rights of “L.A. Confidential” went from Warner Home Video to Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. WHV previously sold a two-disc version of the film that may have contained the missing extras. When Fox put out the one-disc version in September 2016, perhaps the old artwork touting the features was transposed to the new label. In other words, it could be just a printing error and maybe the one-disc edition was never meant to have all those cool extras.

But, since I was given the single-disc version of the DVD to review, I have to withhold a recommendation. Yes, the widescreen transfer of the film is adequate and the DVD version does include a digital copy. But, I want those extras. Perhaps they were included on the new Blu-ray version of the film.

Concerning my interview with Russell Crowe, he was a bit distracted and feisty when I encountered him in 1997, but I left the TV station impressed. The guy was oozing talent and charisma. And, I enjoyed the short amount of time allotted by the studio. Later, I talked with him in media roundtable situations with other reporters present. But, getting a one-on-one is always preferable.

Now, what about the film itself? You probably already know that it’s a crisply written and well-played script, based on the celebrated novel by James Ellroy. There are three lead actors: Crowe, Guy Pearce and Kevin Spacey. Nominated for nine Academy Awards, “L.A. Confidential” won Kim Basinger a best supporting trophy and the Curtis Hanson/Brian Helgeland writing team scored Best Adapted Screenplay. It’s a sublimely complex story of police corruption in 1950’s era Los Angeles. Grade: A

“L.A. Confidential’s” 20th Anniversary Edition is missing its DVD special features.