Film: L.A. Confidential

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Film:

L.A. Confidential

Director: Curtis Hanson
Honors:
Genres:
Distributor: Warner Home Video

In a time when it seems that every other movie makes some claim to being a film noir, L.A. Confidential is the real thing—a gritty, sordid tale of sex, scandal, betrayal, and corruption of all sorts (police, political, press—and, of course, very personal) in 1940s Hollywood. The Oscar-winning screenplay is actually based on several titles in James Ellroy’s series of chronological thriller novels (including the title volume, The Big Nowhere, and White Jazz)—a compelling blend of L.A. history and pulp fiction that has earned it…

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In a time when it seems that every other movie makes some claim to being a film noir, L.A. Confidential is the real thing—a gritty, sordid tale of sex, scandal, betrayal, and corruption of all sorts (police, political, press—and, of course, very personal) in 1940s Hollywood. The Oscar-winning screenplay is actually based on several titles in James Ellroy’s series of chronological thriller novels (including the title volume, The Big Nowhere, and White Jazz)—a compelling blend of L.A. history and pulp fiction that has earned it comparisons to the greatest of all Technicolor noir films, Chinatown. Kim Basinger richly deserved her Supporting Actress Oscar for her portrayal of a conflicted femme fatale; unfortunately, her male costars are so uniformly fine that they may have canceled each other out with the Academy voters: Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, Kevin Spacey, and James Cromwell play LAPD officers of varying stripes. Pearce’s character is a particularly intriguing study in Hollywood amorality and ambition, a strait-laced “hero” (and son of a departmental legend) whose career goals outweigh all other moral, ethical, and legal considerations. If he’s a good guy, it’s only because he sees it as the quickest route to a promotion. —Jim Emerson

Related Works

Book:L.A. Confidential: A Crime Novel

L.A. Confidential: A Crime Novel

James Ellroy

The movie Janet Maslin of the New York Times calls: “Gangbusters! A shrewd, elegant film with a flawless ensemble cast and style to burn”; L.A. Confidential is an epic crime novel that stands as a steel-edged time capsule—Los Angeles in the 1950s, a remarkable era defined in dark shadings.

A horrific mass murder invades the lives of victims and victimizers on both sides of the law—three cops treading quicksand in the middle.

Detective Ed Exley wants glory. Haunted by his father’s success as a policeman, he will pay any price, break any law to eclipse him.

Detective Bud White watched his own father murder his mother—he is now bent on random vengeance, a time bomb with a…[more]

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