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To Live and Die in L.A. (1985)

A fearless Secret Service agent will stop at nothing to bring down the counterfeiter who killed his partner.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Chance (as William L. Petersen)
Ruth Lanier (as Darlanne Fleugel)
Thomas Bateman (as Robert Downey)
Jack Hoar ...
Valentin de Vargas ...
Judge Filo Cedillo (as Val DeVargas)


Working largely in cases of counterfeiting, LA based Secret Service agent Richie Chance exhibits reckless behavior which according to his longtime and now former partner Jimmy Hart will probably land him in the morgue before he's ready to retire. That need for the thrill manifests itself in his personal life by his love of base jumping. Professionally, it is demonstrated by the fact that he is sextorting a parolee named Ruth Lanier, who feeds him information in return for he not sending her back to prison for some trumped up parole violation. With his new partner John Vukovich, Chance is more determined than ever based on recent circumstances to nab known longtime counterfeiter Ric Masters, who is more than willing to use violence against and kill anyone who crosses him. Masters is well aware that the Secret Service is after him. Masters' operation is somewhat outwardly in disarray, with Chance being able to nab his mule, Carl Cody, in the course of moving some of the fake money, and ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A federal agent is dead. A killer is loose. And the City of Angels is about to explode. See more »


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





| |

Release Date:

1 November 1985 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Vivir y morir en Los Ángeles  »

Box Office


$6,000,000 (estimated)


$967,312 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (TV)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The film cast includes two Oscar nominees: Willem Dafoe and Dean Stockwell. See more »


In the opening sequence with the motorcade, traffic is shown going in the opposite direction on the same street and pedestrians are standing outside the hotel a few feet away from the motorcade's arrival. The US Secret Service and local law enforcement completely shut down motorcade routes for events such as the one depicted, and pedestrians would not be allowed to be so close to the motorcade. This indicates the film's budget was insufficient to close down the street and the hotel location. See more »


Carl Cody: [talking about Max Waxman] He's a lying son of a bitch! He's probably the motherfucker who did me. He ratted me to the feds. I'll kill him when I get out! I'm gonna give that fuckin' scumbag a serious headache. May God strike me dead if I don't waste him.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Right at the end, after the credits, there is a shot of William Petersen's face See more »


Featured in I'm Mosley!: An Interview with Actor Yaphet Kotto (2016) See more »


Good Morning School Girl
Performed by Junior Wells
Courtesy of Delmark Records
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User Reviews

Shamefully misunderstood by the critics
29 April 1999 | by (Canterbury, England) – See all my reviews

One of the very best films of the 1980s this was shamefully neglected and misunderstood by the critics. The problem is: on the surface it's just like an ordinary action crime thriller (and thus won't appeal to the arthouse crowd), except that it makes it difficult to identify yourself with any of the characters. In other words: it violates its genre rules. But this very fact makes it so unpredictable and thrilling, and a proper movie as opposed to a mere genre clone.

The good guys are flawed. This isn't really new, since the mid 1960s there were plenty of flawed heroes in Westerns or police thrillers. The difference is that not only their characters are flawed, they are vulnerable, destructible, they make mistakes. And they pay for their mistakes. Similarly the villains: yes, they are formidable and glamorous, but they are not in the league of the Blofelds or Sentenzas of moviedom. They make mistakes too. And they pay too.

A surprising asset is the film music by Wang Chung, a one-hit-wonder pop obscurity of the era. Their sound perfectly melts with the cinematography, especially in the stylish opening sequence.

136 of 162 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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