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>
As a fan film noir, I loved the 1940s and '50s period atmosphere in this movie. This particular story takes place in the early 1950s. Parts of this reminded me of "Chinatown," but this film doesn't have the impact of that one. It's just not as memorable.
You get an idea that this might be another cops-or government officials-are-a- little-over the top when you see who plays them: Nick Nolte, Michael Madsen, Chris Penn, Chazz Palminteri, Treat Williams, Bruce Dern, John Malkovich, Ed Lauter, Andrew McCarthy, etc. Those guys usually play crooks, not cops. Same with the women in here. Jennifer Connelly and Melanie Griffith aren't exactly Irene Dunne and Doris Day!
We also see CSI star William Petersen playing a Chicago mobster! Unbilled in this film were Louise Fletcher, of "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" fame, and Rob Lowe.
This story is a rough-edged for my tastes, with the normal political agendas (government is bad.....again) thrown in here and there, but what I really liked - outside of the look, the "whodunit" angle and the deep cast, was Haskell Wexler's photography. He makes it fun to watch, even if it is no "Chinatown" or "The Big Sleep."
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