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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

 

Directed by William Friedkin
USA
1985

 

When a notorious, highly sophisticated counterfeiter murders his partner, Secret Service agent Richard Chance (William Petersen) launches a furious vendetta to capture the man responsible. But master counterfeiter Rick Masters (Willem Dafoe) is always just one step ahead of Chance in William Friedkin's thrilling, suspenseful crime drama. With violent shoot-outs and a turbulent chase scene reminiscent of Friedkin's own THE FRENCH CONNECTION, TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A. broke with tradition by making the ostensible hero as morally reprehensible as the villain he pursues. Clashing with bureaucratic obstacles, Chance is forced to break the rules in order to procure cash for a sting operation, but the risks he takes snowball into an avalanche of violence and moral repercussions, leading to a morally ambiguous cul-de-sac from which there may be no return.

***

William Friedkin's crime thriller, based on a book by U.S. Secret Service agent Gerald Petievich, concerns an arrogant Secret Service official who wants to get his man at any price. Willem Dafoe plays Eric Masters, an ultra-smooth counterfeiter who has managed to sidestep the police for years. He is so up-front about his dealings, in fact, that when some undercover agents try to make a deal with him at his health club, Eric tells them, "I've been coming to this gym three times a week for five years. I'm an easy guy to find. People know they can trust me." But when young and eager Secret Service agent Richard Chance (William L. Petersen) finds out that his partner has been cold-bloodedly murdered by Eric, he trains his relentlessness upon capturing Eric -- whether it means robbery, murder, or exploiting his friends and associates. As Chance erases the dividing line between good and evil, he drags his new partner John Vukovich (John Pankow) and Ruth Lanier (Darlanne Fluegel), an ex-con, down into the maelstrom with him.

***

Spectacularly photographed by Robby Muller and atmospherically scored by the duo Wang Chung, ''To Live and Die in L.A.'' is resolutely modern. It is most involving when Mr. Friedkin keeps it mindlessly kinetic, least so when it even begins to consider the moral implications of its characters' behavior. The occasional flashes of feeling here - for instance, the surprising tenderness Eric Masters shows for the beautiful dancer (Miss Feuer) who is his accomplice and lover - are as enjoyably gratuitous as a car chase or shootout might be in another sort of movie. Today, in the dazzling, superficial style that Mr. Friedkin has so thoroughly mastered, it's the car chases and shootouts and eye-catching settings that are truly the heart of the matter.

Excerpt from Janet Maslin at the NY Times located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: November 1st, 1985

Reviews                                                                        More Reviews                                                                 DVD Reviews

 

Comparison:

MGM - Region 1 - NTSC vs. MGM (2-disc) - Region FREE - Blu-ray vs. Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

1) MGM  - Region 1 - NTSC DVD LEFT

2) MGM - Region FREE Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Arrow - Region 'B' Blu-ray RIGHT

 

Box Covers

  

Reissued January 4th, 2011 at a cheaper price!:

  

Shout! Factory coming out with their Collector's Edition Blu-ray the next day:

  

Distribution MGM - Region 1 - NTSC MGM - Region FREE - Blu-ray Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:55:40 1:55:53.196 1:55:41.935
Video 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.27 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s  

Disc Size: 40,293,090,492 bytes

Feature Size: 38,796,521,472 bytes

Average Bitrate: 38.00 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video

Disc Size: 48,703,855,991 bytes

Feature Size: 39,015,465,984 bytes

Average Bitrate: 37.96 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:   DVD

Bitrate MGM: Blu-ray

Bitrate: Arrow Blu-ray

Audio English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 2.0), Spanish (Dolby Digital 1.0) DTS-HD Master Audio English 3706 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3706 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit)
DUBs: Dolby Digital Audio French 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / DN -4dB

LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
DTS-HD Master Audio English 2202 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2202 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

Subtitles English, Spanish French, None English, Chinese, French, Korean, Spanish, none English (SDH), none
Features

Release Information:
Studio: MGM

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85

Edition Details:

• Feature length commentary by director William Friedkin
• Counterfeit World: The Making Of To Live And Die In L.A. (29:55)
• Deleted Scene and Alternate Ending Featurette
• Deleted scene featurette
• Photo Gallery and Trailers  

DVD Release Date: December 2nd, 2003

Standard Keep Case
Chapters: 32

Release Information:
Studio: MGM

Disc Size: 40,293,090,492 bytes

Feature Size: 38,796,521,472 bytes

Average Bitrate: 38.00 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video

Edition Details:

Contains the Special edition DVD which has:

• Feature length commentary by director William Friedkin
• Counterfeit World: The Making Of To Live And Die In L.A. (29:55)
• Deleted Scene and Alternate Ending Featurette
• Deleted scene featurette
• Photo Gallery and Trailers

On the Blu-ray:

Theatrical trailer (2:05 in HD!) and Previews  

Blu-ray Release Date: February 1st, 2010

Standard
Blu-ray cases
Chapters: 32

Release Information:
Studio: Arrow

Aspect Ratio:
1.85:1 

Disc Size: 48,703,855,991 bytes

Feature Size: 39,015,465,984 bytes

Average Bitrate: 37.96 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video

Edition Details:

 Audio commentary by director and co-writer William Friedkin
 Taking a Chance, a brand-new interview with actor William Petersen (20:41)
 Doctor for a Day, a brand-new interview with actor Dwier Brown (8:52)
 Renaissance Woman in L.A., a brand-new interview with Debra Feuer (14:55)
 So In Phase: Scoring To Live and Die in L.A., a brand-new interview with composers Wang Chung (12:53)
 Wrong Way: The Stunts of To Live and Die in L.A., a brand-new interview with stunt co-ordinator Buddy Joe Hooker (35:38)
 Counterfeit World: The Making of To Live and Die in L.A., an archive featurette (29:41) containing interviews with Friedkin, actors Petersen and Willem Dafoe, and others
 Alternative ending (with optional introduction - 2:19 - 5:59)
 Deleted scene (with optional introduction - 1:52 - 2:04)
 Stills gallery
 Trailers (3:32)
 Radio spot (1:04)
 Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by the Twins of Evil
 FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Fully illustrated collector s booklet containing new writing by Anne Billson and contemporary coverage)

Blu-ray Release Date: November 21st, 2016
Standard
Blu-ray case

Chapters: 12

 

 

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were obtained directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray November 16': I was expecting the transfer to be quite similar to the max'ed out bitrate 2010 MGM 1080P. But it is not - the 4K restored (from the original 35mm negative supervised and approved by director William Friedkin) Arrow has much richer colors and warmer skin tones. It also has a very high bitrate but I couldn't tell you which is more theatrically accurate, but I, personally, like the bolder, darker scheme. It appears to bring out more detail and depth - the Arrow provides a fabulous presentation in-motion. There is some slight movement in the frame in direct comparison to the MGM and you can see it my toggling between the, linked, large screen captures. We always appreciate differences - they allow consumers options.

Audio gives the default as the 2.0 channel linear PCM with the option of a lossless 5.1 surround (DTS-HD Master.) The latter is not as technically robust (although all are 24-bit) as the MGM but the inclusion of the simpler LPCM will be appreciated by many. The score is credited to Wang Chung with notable Dance Hall Days, Wake Up, Stop Dreaming and To Live and Die in L.A. etc. played throughout but there is also music from Otis Rush, Magic Sam, Junior Wells, AM-FM, Rank & File and others. It sounds excellent in the uncompressed LPCM tightness and Arrow have added optional English (SDH) subtitles on their region 'B'-locked Blu-ray disc.

Arrow add almost 8.5 Gig more worth of supplements repeating the interesting audio commentary by director and co-writer William Friedkin and the 1/2 hour archive featurette Counterfeit World: The Making of To Live and Die in L.A. containing interviews with Friedkin, actors Petersen and Willem Dafoe, and others. But we get many new interviews - Taking a Chance spends 20-minutes with actor William Petersen. Doctor for a Day, is another brand-new interview - with actor Dwier Brown. Renaissance Woman in L.A., has Debra Feuer for 1/4 of an hour. So In Phase: Scoring To Live and Die in L.A., is a new, 13-minutes, interview with composers Wang Chung and Wrong Way: The Stunts of To Live and Die in L.A., is a brand-new 35-minute interview with stunt co-ordinator Buddy Joe Hooker. There are Alternate and Deleted Scenes with optional introductions, a stills gallery, two trailers, two radio spots and Arrow's package has a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by the Twins of Evil and it should be noted that the first pressing (only) will receive a fully illustrated collector's booklet containing new writing by Anne Billson and contemporary coverage.

Well, Arrow certainly win with the alternate, but crisp video, dual audio options and extensive extras. This is a film you can revisit over and over - it has a style with the Robby Muller's inventive cinematography and rhythmic tension of Wang Chung's heavy beat. Certainly a fascinating and kinetic window inside the world of counterfeiting. Love the Arrow cover, too. Our highest recommendation!

***

ADDITION: MGM Blu-ray - January 10': Firstly, This Blu-ray A/V is just great - a huge leap beyond the Special Edition DVD from 2003. Plus it actually contains that special edition with the abundant extras.

The issue here is how do YOU get your hands on this AVC-encoded Blu-ray? I mean, I've got it - shouldn't you have the same opportunity? At the writing of this comparison Amazon nor any other e-tailors that I've investigated have the product definitively listed yet. It only says 'Title has not been released' - although the last scheduled release date was February 1st, 2010. THAT should be very do-able folks. Stay tuned for ordering information!     

Everything visually has improved - fleshtones colors radically tighten up but detail appears to be the biggest recipient of the 1080P resolution. The disc is dual-layered with a very high bitrate (6 X the DVD). There is some varying degrees of healthy grain visible on the progressively transferred Blu-ray. Darker scenes show a bit of noise but overall this is a stupendous video rendering. I'm extremely impressed with the presentation it gave from controlled tight black levels to a dramatic escalation in sharpness and detail. This looks as good as I have ever seen To Live and Die in L.A.

The Blu-ray sports and occasionally bombastic DTS-HD Master 5.1 at a resounding 3706 kbps. It takes the car chases, fires, gun shots and thumbing music rhythms of the score and pounds them out of your surround with healthy vigor. This is as big an advancement over the DVD Dolby as the video is. There is great bass here. Both offer subtitle options, more on the Blu-ray, and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

Okay the Blu-ray disc itself only has a theatrical trailer and some previews BUT this is a 2 disc affair and the second disc is the old Special edition DVD complete with the film (in SD) and the excellent commentary by director William Friedkin, 1/2 hour featurette: Counterfeit World: The Making Of To Live And Die In L.A., a deleted scene and an alternate ending plus some discussion of the removed scene, and finally a Photo Gallery. 

I've never enjoyed this film as much as I did in my Blu-ray viewing. Debatably Friedkin's 2nd best film and this new package is a must-own in my opinion. I'm relived that MGM have done this properly (I feared an MPEG2 single-layered effort). One of our higher recommendations! Buy without fear!       

Gary W. Tooze


Menus

 

1) MGM  - Region 1 - NTSC DVD LEFT

2) MGM - Region FREE Blu-ray RIGHT


Special Edition DVD Extras (DVD is included in the Blu-ray package)

Arrow - Region 'B' Blu-ray


Screen Captures

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

1) MGM  - Region 1 - NTSC DVD TOP

2) MGM - Region FREE Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Arrow - Region 'B' Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


 

1) MGM  - Region 1 - NTSC DVD TOP

2) MGM - Region FREE Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Arrow - Region 'B' Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) MGM  - Region 1 - NTSC DVD TOP

2) MGM - Region FREE Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Arrow - Region 'B' Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) MGM  - Region 1 - NTSC DVD TOP

2) MGM - Region FREE Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Arrow - Region 'B' Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) MGM  - Region 1 - NTSC DVD TOP

2) MGM - Region FREE Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Arrow - Region 'B' Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

1) MGM  - Region 1 - NTSC DVD TOP

2) MGM - Region FREE Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Arrow - Region 'B' Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

1) MGM  - Region 1 - NTSC DVD TOP

2) MGM - Region FREE Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Arrow - Region 'B' Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

1) MGM  - Region 1 - NTSC DVD TOP

2) MGM - Region FREE Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Arrow - Region 'B' Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

1) MGM  - Region 1 - NTSC DVD TOP

2) MGM - Region FREE Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Arrow - Region 'B' Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


Box Covers

  

Reissued January 4th, 2011 at a cheaper price!:

  

Shout! Factory coming out with their Collector's Edition Blu-ray the next day:

  

Distribution MGM - Region 1 - NTSC MGM - Region FREE - Blu-ray Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray




 

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