Admittedly, the sinking of the ship was a technical marvel, but for real emotional jolts and sublime start-to-finish filmmaking, "L.A." is where it's at. Not only has this early-Fifties-set crime thriller held up since its debut, it's actually gotten better. I quite liked it then; I much love it now.
On its surface, Curtis Hanson's film is a murder mystery. But it's really an exquisite character study involving Hollywood cops of various degrees of corrupt, a scandal sheet and the ultimate femme fatale (Kim Basinger, never better, in her Oscar-winning role). Delivering excellent performances are Guy Pearce, Russell Crowe and Kevin Spacey.
And this is how you make a special edition truly special. While I'd prefer to see one complete feature-length documentary that delves into the movie's various aspects, the two discs are stuffed with shorter, individual making-ofs, from casting to the city and a look at how James Ellroy's novel underwent its transition from page to screen. Of most note is the failed "L.A. Confidential" TV pilot starring Kiefer Sutherland. It's no great shakes, but it's fairly solid, and quite a nice surprise to see here.
If that weren't enough, a third disc offers six period songs from the soundtrack, including Chet Baker and Dean Martin — like the film itself, class all around. —Rod Lott