To Live and Die in L.A. (1985)

R  |   |  Action, Crime, Drama  |  1 November 1985 (USA)
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A fearless Secret Service agent will stop at nothing to bring down the counterfeiter who killed his partner.



(novel), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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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)
Michael Greene ...
Jack Hoar ...
Valentin de Vargas ...
Judge Filo Cedillo (as Val DeVargas)
Michael Chong ...


Two cops in Los Angeles try to track down the vicious criminal Eric Masters. Then, one of them is killed by Masters and the other one swears revenge no matter what the cost. After that, the hunt becomes an ob- session and the law he once swore to uphold becomes meaningless to him. Written by Harald Mayr <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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


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Parents Guide:





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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
See  »

Did You Know?


1980s band Wang Chung provided much of the soundtrack for this movie. When Chance enters the topless bar for the first time, Wang Chung's first hit song, "Dance Hall Days", is playing in the background. See more »


Ruth tells Chance that Lin is coming in on Amtrak train number 11, which is the correct train number for the train coming from San Francisco (the Coast Starlight). When Lin arrives at L.A. Union Station and is paged, he is paged as arriving on Amtrak train number 708. See more »


[Richard Chance is looking at the journal he took from Max Waxman's residence]
John Vukovich: It's a crime scene, buddy. The book is evidence. What if the cop remembers it's missing?
Richard Chance: Shit. The rookie couldn't remember what he saw. He wasn't in there long enough.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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


Referenced in An Experiment in Fear: The Making of Monkey Shines (2014) See more »


Independent Intavensman
Performed by Linton Kwesi Johnson
Courtesy of Island Records
See more »

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User Reviews

To Live and Die in L.A. 20 years later, still fresh and authentic.
28 May 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I saw To Live and Die in L.A. during its original theatrical release in the summer of 1985. I thought then it had the potential to eventually become regarded as one of the best cop films ever. Recently I watched it again on DVD. It absolutely holds up in every respect to its original verity and impact, and it undeniably should be regarded as one of the top ten movies of its genre, and in my opinion, one of the top two or three. What is so remarkable about William Friedkin's film is the uniformly excellent level of the performances of his cast. There is not a single portrayal on screen that is not, from first scene to last, dead on target. William Petersen as Richard Chance, an ambitious adrenaline-charged treasury agent who becomes totally obsessed with avenging his partner's murder and Willem Dafoe as Rick Masters, a fabulously wealthy yet sleazy and violent counterfeiter form the nucleus around which the film unfolds. Both actors are superb in their roles, but no less impressive is John Pankow as the new partner who approaches emotional meltdown as he gets drawn deeper and deeper into a web of illegality and violence stemming from Chance's single-minded pursuit of Masters. Also Dean Stockwell as a cynical mob lawyer in his glass tower office and John Turturro as a lowlife ex-con, each in their own way a lackey to Masters, deliver taut finely-etched portrayals that linger in the mind with their subtle impact, all the more remarkable for the relatively brief time they appear on screen. And the same can be said about Debra Feuer and Steve James in even briefer roles, Feuer as Masters' longtime girlfriend and James as a ghetto crime lord totally dependent on a constant supply of counterfeit twenty dollar bills from Masters. The richly detailed location shots within which the film's action flows, from Masters' BelAir mansion to the barrios of East Los Angeles, from Hollywood Boulevard performance art theaters to federal prison exercise yards is unflinchingly authentic, but never intrusive. And as a bonus to all this is a car chase that at least equals if not surpasses the one Friedkin directed in 1971's Best Picture Oscar winner, The French Connection.

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