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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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Decent movie but no classic
First off, although Kim Basinger adds some depth to her character as the film proceeds, it boggles my mind how she was nominated for a best supporting Oscar, let alone win it. It simply shows how a little buzz from a few people can get a steamroller going. On the other hand, Guy Pearce and Russell Crowe were robbed of nominations, both (especially Pearce) give terrific performances. This is a story of corruption in the LA police force, and the period atmosphere and byzantine plot make this a modern film noir to be reckoned with. The body count becomes ridiculously high and this theme has been done much better (see Chinatown) but the end result is a satisfying film.

Kevin Spacey, Danny Devito and James Cromwell all add to the enjoyment with their roles. I still think this film is hugely overrated though, #36 of all time on IMDB is way too high. LA Confidential is overlong, the plot stretches believability at times and again, this genre has been done better.
Absolutely great
LA Confidential is the best detective movie I've ever seen in my life. The screenplay is so powerful and well written. It deserved to gain the Oscar. You can find everything needed for a good a screenplay in this movie. Players are great. Specially, Kevin Spacy who acts very good in most of his movies. A chance for R.Crow to prove his talent in acting.
Very good movie BUT Kim Basinger got an Oscar for this ???
This movie is about corruption in the LA police department in the 50's including bribes, pay offs, murder of suspects (hey - if you KNOW they are guilty why waste time with a trial? ), police brutality, prostitution, racism etc. Hmmm - based on current events this movie may qualify as a documentary!

Combine all the avenues of corruption, a lone police officer trying to "do the right thing", a sleazy tabloid reporter (Danny DeVito as Sid Hudgens), a Hollywood Harlot (Kim Basinger) and a multiple homicide to be solved "by any means necessary" and you get over two hours of pure entertainment.

I've seen this movie 4 times - not because it's THAT good but to try and figure out how in the heck Kim Basinger got and Oscar for her limited role in this movie. She IS a beautiful woman, but I thought the Oscar was for ACTING! As far as I can tell, she got it for walking around in slinky robes, getting slapped and using the word "F*CK" as often as possible. I don't think she's on screen for more than 10 minutes the entire movie - GO FIGURE!!
Confidentially: Could have been MUCH Better
Watching L. A. CONFIDENTIAL at home, about a third of the way through the movie, I turned to my sister (a MAJOR Russell Crowe fan) and said, if this movie maintains the quality it has so far, I'll have to eat my words and admit it should have won best picture. Heck, had it maintained the quality and momentum, it would have been the best picture of the DECADE. However, the last third of the movie degenerates into succession of

contrivances and coincidences, and climaxes with one of the silliest shootouts in movie history.

However, I'd rather talk about the pluses of this film. This is quite simply the GREATEST recreation of an era I've ever

seen. From production design to set decoration to costume design to makeup, this movie is perfect. It's all topped off like a cherry on top with absolutely beautiful cinematography (some of the best I've ever seen) Those elements alone make TITANIC's seem like cheap artifices by comparison. I lived

through those years and this simply WAS the fifties. My only quibble (and one representative of the entire movie; that is, soft around the edges)is that NOBODY smokes. Excuse me...this is the fifties, EVERYBODY smoked. The character Ed Exley is

the best written, most complex character I've ever seen in ANY form of fiction, and Guy Pearce (quite possibly our best living actor) captures every nuance of this complex man. Russell Crowe is terrific, alternately frightening and lovable). Kevin Spacey is, well, Kevin Spacey...a sly cross between Humphrey Bogart and Gene Hackman, with charm to burn. Kim Basinger is radiant; she's never looked more beautiful or desirable. Sadly, she's underused, and doesn't have enough scenes to create new sides to the cliche "whore with a heart of gold." Late in the film, when she "seduces" Guy Pearce, she has all the "jiggles" right (NOBODY, not even Liz Taylor or Monroe looked THAT good in those 50s dresses), but isn't allowed the sluttiness to convince us the seduction is genuine (Kim, I know you won the Oscar; but you should really watch Michelle Pfeiffer in WOLF or WHAT LIES BENEATH to see how it's done). The scene seems weak and hollow and undercuts her otherwise fine performance. The is certainly the BEST ensemble acting of 1997. The only false note here is Danny DeVito (see, that softness around the edges again) once again playing Louie DePalma, this time moonlighting as the editor/publisher of HUSH HUSH (the thinly disguised CONFIDENTIAL magazine). What this part needed was the oiliness of Jay Mohr (JERRY MCGUIRE) Terry Kyser (WEEKEND AT BERNIES) or even David Strathairn (who plays Pierce Patchett). In other words, better olive oil than lard...

If you want a better constructed, less convoluted and better paced movie about police corruption, see THE BIG EASY. However, if you want to enjoy a sumptuousness feast of artistry, Kim Basinger's almost majestic beauty, Guy Pearce's and Russell Crowe's incredible performances, see L.A. CONFIDENTIAL. You'll have a REALLY good time.
Corruption, betrayal, and scandal. But a fight for purity and Kim Basinger giving the best performance of her career support claim to the best film of 1997 and perhaps the 90's decade.
Based on a James Ellroy novel in Los Angeles during the 1950's L.A. Confidential delivers a knockout. Though the first time you watch L.A. Confidential you feel the intensity and high drama to find surprise after surprise in the complex and hidden plot. Then after many viewings and you already know how the story unfolds you still enjoy the great acting and admire James Ellroy for having such a fine script. So well written and directed you find yourself glued from start to finish you can't take your eyes off of it. Corruption runs amok in the L.A. police department only to be exposed by a eager young cop Ed Exley (Guy Pearce). Bud White (Russell Crowe) breaks away from the corruption to help Exley after he learns the third cop in the trio and sidekick Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey) is killed by the corrupt force. I must say Kevin Spacey is one of the best actors in Hollywood today I love watching any movie he plays in. The best supporting element of this entire film is Kim Basinger as Hollywood glamour call girl (Lynn Bracken). She did indeed deserve her Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Kim gave a performance that just brightens up the film her beauty is touching. That's the best Kim has ever looked everything from her bold blond hair and body you just name it. L.A. Confidential gives a message to me that we should all search and try to experience some purity from time to time. With corruption as found in this film and many other places hope for more honesty and truth can be experienced more. I like the way Pearce, Basinger, and Crowe beat corruption. Now that's some purity. L.A. Confidential is a great movie due to the script, cast, and message it presents, the best of 1997.
It's in the writing
Reading the comments, I find few viewers seemed to have read James Ellroy's LA Trilogy, on which LA Confidential is based. The Big Nowhere, LA Confidential and White Jazz comprise the Dudley Smith story; Smith is the only constant in all three. None of the heroes are in Nowhere, Buzz Meeks being gunned down by Dudley while trying to escape, having hidden the heroin. Buzz White survives Confidential along with Exley, and White does go off to Arizona, but Smith still lives and rides high. In Jazz, Ed Exley~~Guy Pearce~~and Smith do battle for the soul of David Klein, who in the end brings down Smith. Of the three, Confidential is surely the most complicated since with the heroin out there somewhere, many more players are involved.

Hanson's genius is to shorten the story, eliminating Nowhere entirely, and bringing Dudley his retribution without Dave Klein being involved. He eliminates so many back stories: Exley's father is alive in the book, and a powerful politico to boot and this is just one difference, but in clarifying and making the story shorter, he almost makes it better. The murder of Vincennes is a brilliant touch, along with the code name Rollo Tomassi.

Both the books and the film are pulse pounders, intense to the core. My late wife, who could never sit through any film without getting up for a cigarette, was immobilized, and by the end was screaming "Kill him" as Exley watched Smith depart. If I had one slight criticism, it would be the cleaning up of some of the language about the original suspects in the Nite Owl killings, but make no mistake about it, this is the film for the 90's, and the only 1997 Oscar nominee worth watching. Hurrah for Curtis Hanson.
Great Noir Film
L.A. Confidential is a wonderful piece of moviemaking with luminous characters, beautiful cinematography, convincing dialogue and a wonderful plot full of twists, turns and surprises.

This is a perfect crime story and I would recommend it to anyone with a love for movies that are wonderfully made and acted.

Throwback to Film Noir Era of 40's and 50's
L.A. Confidential is the film that Mulholland Falls should have been. In my opinion, it is the best film of it's kind since Chinatown(1974). The direction by Curtis Hanson is good and the performances by everyone is wonderful. L.A. Confidential does a good job of contrasting the perception of 1950's Los Angeles with it's realities.

Kim Bassinger does an excellent job as Lynn Bracketts as she fills her character with tenderness. The movie does well in showing the code of silence mentality used by the police force of Los Angeles. L.A. Confidential also does a great job in introducing the three main characters. The movie goes from portraying them as unlikeable people to slowing making them understandable(White and Exley have the same quest for Justice except with different ideas).
Only Cromwell remains on top
Just watched this movie again last night. Thirteen yrs ago this picture received - across the board - the best set of reviews of ANY movie ever released in the history of Warner Brothers.

Today, it doesn't deserve that kind of hype. The list of reservations runs remarkably deep in hindsight. The script feels rushed and underdeveloped at key plot points (What does it represent, three novels boiled into one screenplay?) The romantic (triangle) subplot comprised of Russell Crowe, Kim Bassinger and Guy Pearce is grotesquely handled (compare it to the languorous sparring of Mel Gibson, Michelle Pfeiffer and Kurt Russell in the underrated "guilty pleasure," TEQUILA SUNRISE) Bassinger's performance is arguably the lamest one to ever be awarded a supporting Oscar. The love scenes between her and Crowe are written in the form of a fervent adolescent's sincerest wet dream. Psychological explanations are purest pulp. The mise-en-scene, which I thought was a tad overrated even at the time, now looks to be exclusively the work of the production research department. Visually, its actually pretty flat, playing like a solid cable series with some key episodes missing. Yet having said that much, L.A. CONFIDENTIAL benefits mightily from having a spectacular, cunningly sinister villain in James Cromwell. He is as good as one's memory of him. The climax of the picture, where his wickedness appears well-nigh omnipotent (Noah Cross with a badge)and, in classic melodramatic fashion, one fears for the lives of the two righteous detectives who are out to crack the case - yes, this last section still holds up and delivers the goods.

So in retrospect, I remain charitable and credit it a 7 out of 10 because so few melodramas have heart these days and this far-fetched conspiracy tale does reflect the convictions of its author, James Ellroy - even if what those convictions add up to is less than meets the eye.

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Will stand the test of time.........
When a film evokes an era as well as L.A. Confidential does, people take notice. It could be argued that it is easier to replicate the recent past than the distant on film, and in a sense this is true. Costumes, language, and the necessary absence of the modern in "period pieces" make them expensive and difficult to film. But couldn't it be argued that it is just as difficult to make a film about more recent periods? I have no knowledge of how a Victorian era table was set, or what a knight really spoke like; we are subject to the directors view of reality. But what if a good deal of your audience lived through the time you are portraying, as in the case of the 1950's? I can even envision my grandfather coming back from WW2 to a booming economy, and living in the world Curtis Hanson created.

The real genus of this film is that it creates not only a physical world, but one with all the politics, corruption, racism and inequity of the time. As a result we feel the characters motivations and understand their faults all the better; Bud White, Ed Exley, Lynn Bracken and Lana Turner all live here.

This film, like others that make us believe we are there for two hours (and $7.50), will endure. I was thinking a perfect double feature would be with Chinatown, another film that will stand the test of time.
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