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Mulholland Falls (1996)

In 1950's Los Angeles, a special crime squad of the LAPD investigates the murder of a young woman.



(story) (as Pete Dexter), (story) | 1 more credit »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Chelsea Harrington ...
Johnna Johnson ...
Bar Woman


This film is about the adventures of a 1940's special anti-gangster police squad in Los Angeles, the infamous 'Hat Squad.' The four members of this squad are big, tough, no-nonsense cops who don't hesitate to break the law, if it suits their purposes. When a local woman is murdered, their investigation turns up the fact that she had been romantically linked to several prominent men and had secret films taken of her liaisons. Since one of those men is the powerful U.S. Army General at the head of the then-new Atomic Energy Commission and another is the (married) leader of the Hat Squad, complications ensue. The FBI even gets involved in an attempted cover-up. Written by Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


This isn't America, this is Los Angeles See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexuality, violence and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



Release Date:

26 April 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Abuso de poder  »


Box Office


$29,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$4,306,221, 28 April 1996, Wide Release

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



(home movie sequences)|

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Jack Nicholson was offered the role of Chief Bill Parker. He declined, but he did recommend Bruce Dern for the part. See more »


Prior to Hoover and Coolidge boarding the C-47, the underside of the port wing is shown. Civilian registration numbers can be seen through the paint. This particular aircraft is a civilian DC-3 that has been painted over in US Air Force markings. See more »


[first lines]
Perino's Maitre d': Good evening, gentlemen can I check your hats, please?
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Referenced in Gangster Squad (2013) See more »


Mr. Anthony's Boogie
Written by Ray Anthony and George Williams
Performed by Ray Anthony
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

There ain't no falls in L.A.
25 August 2013 | by See all my reviews

Mulholland Falls is directed by Lee Tamahori and written by Pete Dexter. It stars Nick Nolte, Chazz Palminteri, Melanie Griffith, Michael Madsen, Chris Penn, Jennifer Connelly, Treat Williams, John Malkovich, Bruce Dern and Andrew McCarthy. Music is by Dave Grusin and cinematography by Haskell Wexler.

1950s Los Angeles and four unorthodox detectives led by Maxwell Hoover (Nolte) are called in to investigate the death of a young woman found crushed at a construction site. The woman is revealed to be an aspiring actress who had recently had a relationship with the married Hoover. Can is open, and worms everywhere, and following those worms leads Hoover down murky avenues...

It's the almost nearly great neo-noir movie, everything looks right in principal, it has a strongly assembled cast, the 50s visuals and cinematography are splendid, and the murder mystery element of the plot - with some added sex, sizzle and nuclear shenanigans - looks promising on the page. Yet it never delivers on that promise of being something dark, to be a labyrinthine noir thriller beating a black heart.

It starts of so well, based on the infamous "Hat Squad" we reasonably expect the story to expand upon the opening macho machinations of the four tough hombres in the hats, but instead away from Nolte's grizzled Hoover, the other three guys are merely dressed up props. Which means there's some good actors wasted, sadly.

As the plot moves slowly forward the investigation and Hoover character axis becomes less interesting. Griffith came in for some critical grief for a lacklustre performance, but she's done no favours by the writers who fail to give her marriage to Hoover any substance. So when things go pear shaped and the characters of Mr and Mrs Hoover should explode on the screen, we really don't care having had no interest previously to hang our emotional being on.

It all builds to what can best be described as a poor pay off, the resolution to the hinted at muddy mystery is hardly shocking, and the "big" face-off sequence between good and bad guys (or bad and bad if you prefer) is about as exciting as watching paint dry. It's not an awful movie, but it is a very disappointing one. A film where a bit more thought given by the producers could have yielded so much more. 5/10

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