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L.A. Confidential
Crime, Drama, Thriller, Mystery
IMDB rating:
Curtis Hanson
Kevin Spacey as Jack Vincennes
Russell Crowe as Bud White
Guy Pearce as Ed Exley
James Cromwell as Dudley Smith
Kim Basinger as Lynn Bracken
Danny DeVito as Sid Hudgens
David Strathairn as Pierce Patchett
Ron Rifkin as Deputy DA Ellis Loew
Matt McCoy as 'Badge of Honor' Star Brett Chase
Paul Guilfoyle as Mickey Cohen
Paolo Seganti as Johnny Stompanato
Elisabeth Granli as Mickey Cohen's Mambo Partner
Sandra Taylor as Mickey Cohen's Mambo Partner
Steve Rankin as Officer Arresting Mickey Cohen
Storyline: 1950's Los Angeles is the seedy backdrop for this intricate noir-ish tale of police corruption and Hollywood sleaze. Three very different cops are all after the truth, each in their own style: Ed Exley, the golden boy of the police force, willing to do almost anything to get ahead, except sell out; Bud White, ready to break the rules to seek justice, but barely able to keep his raging violence under control; and Jack Vincennes, always looking for celebrity and a quick buck until his conscience drives him to join Exley and White down the one-way path to find the truth behind the dark world of L.A. crime.
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A good, old fashioned movie
What I love about this movie is the film noir quality that keeps you wanting more. Each body in this film is not just a person, they're a character. They each have something to gain, whether noble or not, and that is what makes this film interesting. The shootouts are fun, but the plot and characters are what drives this movie.

My one criticism is the length. There were parts where the movie just seemed to drag a bit. In my opinion, the "Bloody Christmas" bit could have been cut altogether, or, if they needed a way for Guy Pearce's character to get his Detective badge, it could have started with him as detective and then been mentioned in passing. It wasn't really necessary to the rest of the plot.

Other than that, however, this movie is excellent.

Read my original review of this movie at
Best Movie of 1997 - One of Top 10 Cop Films of All Time
Barbara Stanwyck and Claude Rains give the lie to the Academy's claim as arbiter of "Best Actor/Actress".

Likewise, L. A. Confidential proves the Academy's corruption, or at least incompetence, in the "Best Film" category. It is clear that L.A.C. is the best picture of 1997. To vote the mediocre Titanic over it, simply because Titanic didn't turn out as bad as was feared, is more a reflection on the Academy than on anything that bunch of groupies says about "Best Film".
A gripping, modern film noir
Idealistic and clever, but vain, police officer Edmund Exley (Guy Pearce) clashes with tough, unorthodox detective Bud White (Russell Crowe) over police conduct and a celebrity lookalike prostitute (Kim Basinger). After a shooting incident at the Night Owl Cafe, both begin to realise that something isn't quite right and start to unravel a seedy underworld of sex, murder and organised crime.

All the performances are almost faultless and the pace rockets along dragging you deeper and deeper. There are some marvellous twists in the plot and no character can be easily outlined as good or bad. Add to the cast James Cromwell as Captain Dudley Smith and Kevin Spacey as Jack Vincenz and you're definitely on to a winner.

I consider this film to be the best I've ever seen, it's that good. Go watch now! 10/10
Like a good wine
This film is like a good wine - it matures with age. Every time that I've watched this movie I've liked it more and I liked it a lot to begin with.

The story follows three cops with a totally different outlook on life and MO. Very much like real life these cops are not model citizens. Bud White (Russell Crowe) dishes out his own punishment without the need for intervention of the courts. Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey) is not averse to making a bit of profit from newspaper hacks whilst arresting people. Ed Exley (Guy Pearce) is quite happy to grass on his partners to further his career. The three cops may not be particularly well matched, but they work together to solve the Nite Owl murder and find something altogether more sinister.

The acting from the three leads is outstanding and what makes this movie stand out even more is the excellent support from the rest of the cast. Kim Basinger, James Cromwell and Danny DeVito are all worthy of mention as is the script and the direction by Curtis Hanson. The only minor disappointment is the finish which was a little too Hollywood. A modern masterpiece 10/10
Fantastic film-noir
Although most of the greatest film-noir movies were made in the 1930's, 40's, and 50's, "L.A. Confidential" breaks that tradition. Kevin Spacey is his usual fabulous self as Jack Vincennes, a cynical cop, and Russell Crowe ("The Insider", "Gladiator") is also riveting as Bud White. And Kim Basinger is great in her Academy Award winning role of Lynn Bracken. I think it's her greatest achievement.

Winner of two Oscars, "L.A. Confidential" is a cinematic masterpiece, and should be seen by any movie buff. I give it a 10 out of 10.
Only half GREAT!
Reviewers have been far too generous in praise of La Confidential. The script is a perfect example of Hollywood once again dropping the ball. The first half of the film is GREAT, as good or better than I wanted it to be: a juicy plot (plus various sub plots) of just the right complexity, a seductively delicious milieu, and fascinating characters.


Suddenly without warning, the story switches to the favorite action movie plot used by every other Hollywood hack – THE BIG CHEESE VILLAIN. You know this one, the evil authority figure symbolizing the corrupt establishment (such as a CEO, superior military officer, high government official, football coach, etc.) that no one would ever suspect turns out to be the criminal mastermind behind all the movie's mischief and mayhem. That worked in This Gun For Hire with Alan Ladd, but has been beat to death since Viet Nam and Watergate.

From the moment that Kevin Spacey is killed, the movie runs on automatic scriptwriter. As always the case with THE BIG CHEESE VILLAIN FORMULA, the major plot conflict and all sub plots can be conveniently resolved with an action packed ending where the hero (or heroes in this case) confront the villain and an army of evil henchmen in a setting reminiscent of the OK Corral. In the end, countless bad guys are blown away, yet THE BIG CHEESE is left to kill. As we've seen many times before, the crafty arch villain almost kills our heroes. And just when you've given up all hope, those physically and emotionally wounded good guys manage some last minute gunplay neatly dispatching old Mr. Corruption. And the world is right again.

As a bonus, the filmmakers of LA Confidential tacked on a schmaltzy epilogue with some cornball lines and long pathetic stares. This is a painfully obvious attempt to dupe us into thinking we experienced something profound. Oh yes, our heroes are a little more cynical, but they are much wiser, caring men, and their tarnished honor is still intact. Reminds me of Nancy Olson's line in Sunset Boulevard, `...just a rehash of something that wasn't very good to begin with.'

If you award flawed films like LA Confidential a top rating, what about noir classics like The Big Sleep, Out Of The Past, and Chinatown -- twenty stars at least? Personally, I would have enjoyed seeing more of Kevin Spacey and the ‘50s TV angle – as that's something different. I guess the filmmakers were constrained by the book, which I haven't read. But that doesn't excuse throwing out creative license, taking the easy way out, and opting for THE BIG CHEESE VILLAIN FORMULA, even if it's in the book.

***** Best Film of the 90s
Hands-down my favourite American film of the nineties. Curtis Hanson shocked the world by proving to be not only a great director but an auteur with this unbeatable adaptation of James Ellroy's terrifying novel about corruption and crime among members of the LAPD in the 1950s. The hard-boiled detective story angle is brought to life so beautifully, mostly because Jeannine Claudia Oppewall's production design recreates the dark underside of the 50s to such perfection that not even a Coke bottle label is missed. Add to that Dante Spinotti's stunning lighting that rides the fine line between artistic and believable comfortably (as all period camerawork should), Ruth Myers' costume designing and a script by Hanson and The Postman scribe Brian Helgeland (I know, I don't get it either) that pares down Ellroy's mammoth plot about a multiple murder in a local diner involving a policeman with suspicious ties without sacrificing the density of the story or the spiderweb of events involved with it, and you have the best movie of 1997, not to mention the most fascinating detective film ever made since Orson Welles' Touch of Evil. The cast is all brilliant, most notably Kim Basinger as a wordly prostitute who has not only a heart of gold but a mind of steel--Basinger is so strong in her character's every nuance you'll find yourself forgetting she's even acting--and Kevin Spacey as a Dean Martin-esque detective who not only solves an important part of the puzzle, he even discovers he possesses a soul beneath his flashy suits. I just can't get enough of this film.
got so much right where so many other movies get the same things so wrong....

I had to comment on this movie because I just watched "The Black Dahlia" recently and the difference between the two films is quite extreme. LA Confidential is a great movie. It's received so much recognition and has so many positive comments I don't even know what to say about it. But everything that's wrong with certain other, similar films, is what's right about this one.

The cast is great. The story isn't GOOD, it's fascinating and plays out in a way that's transfixing. I must agree with many that there are few movies of this kind around today and that's a shame. But there's not much negative to say on this one because the film gets just about everything right....and how common is that? I won't single out any one member of the cast but will say that my one complaint is that Kim Bassenger is the only one who won an Acadeny Award for this film. And I am glad she won an academy award because I'm a major Bassenger fan and always felt she was under rated. But there were other films she was better in then this one. And there's so many others in this film who were as good or honestly even better-where were their awards? There are certain films that one watches where it's almost unbelievable that they or the performers, don't receive even more recognition and this is definitely such a film.

Basically anyone who likes Film Noir or just a really good film with a sensational cast, intelligent writing and a fascinating plot should check this out. My vote's 9.5 out of 10.
Not a bad frame in the whole film
Every time I watch this film I love it more. What an incredible piece of film making. Once I sat with a pad of paper and kept track of what I thought was better in each scene, the writing or the acting, and I came up with a tie. Russell Crowe showed us all before "The Insider" what he was made of. Kim Basinger proved to all of us she is more than a pretty face. James Cromwell again reminded us he is one of the best character actors around. I had no idea who Guy Pierce was before this film and now I follow his career after this unbelievable performance. And Kevin Spacey...Kevin Spacey...Kevin Spacey...charming, classy, amazing, stole the movie. Rent this movie. If is wasn't released the same year as "Titanic" it would have won Best Picture.
better the second time 'round
I just saw this movie for the second time the other night, and enjoyed it MUCH more than the first time. There were plot and character subtleties that were much easier to appreciate, without having to concentrate as much on what was going on (following the film noir guideline of having a complicated story line). This movie successfully avoided stereotypical characters; each character had many motivations, some sympathetic, some not. Loved Kevin Spacey's performance (not unusual), and Guy Pearce was really good as Exley. The thing that most surprised me, however, was finding that James Cromwell who so wonderfully played the heavy, Dudley Smith, is the same James Cromwell that played the wonderful farmer Hoggett in "Babe". Talk about different characters.
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