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L.A. Confidential (1997)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama, Mystery  |  19 September 1997 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.3/10 from 388,680 users   Metascore: 90/100
Reviews: 614 user | 173 critic | 28 from Metacritic.com

As corruption grows in 1950s LA, three policemen - one strait-laced, one brutal, and one sleazy - investigate a series of murders with their own brand of justice.



(novel), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Top Rated Movies #98 | Won 2 Oscars. Another 80 wins & 77 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mickey Cohen's Mambo Partner
Mickey Cohen's Mambo Partner
Officer Arresting Mickey Cohen


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. Written by Greg Bole <bole@life.bio.sunysb.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Everything is suspect...everyone is for sale...and nothing is what it seems. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



Release Date:

19 September 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Los Ángeles al desnudo  »

Box Office


$35,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$5,211,198 (USA) (19 September 1997)


$64,604,977 (USA) (29 May 1998)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


A long time fan of James Ellroy's work, when Brian Helgeland heard that Warner Brothers had acquired the rights to L.A. Confidential (1997) in 1990, he lobbied hard to script the film. At the time, however, the studio was only interested in using established writers. See more »


In the fight scene which takes place in the file room when Bud White confronts Ed Exley with the photographs of him with Lynn, there are table lamps on the desk that are lit up. During the scuffle, one of the lamp light bulbs burns out and once the scuffle is over, you can see the light is back on as if the bulb didn't burn out. See more »


[first lines]
Sid Hudgens: [voiceover] Come to Los Angeles! The sun shines bright, the beaches are wide and inviting, and the orange groves stretch as far as the eye can see. There are jobs aplenty, and land is cheap. Every working man can have his own house, and inside every house, a happy, all-American family. You can have all this, and who knows... you could even be discovered, become a movie star... or at least see one. Life is good in Los Angeles... it's paradise on Earth." Ha ha ha ha. That's what they ...
See more »

Crazy Credits

At the end of all the credits, there is a brief scene from "Badge of Honor" featuring a onscreen dedication in honor of Sgt. Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey), who within the film had served as the "Hollywood cop" and advisor to the film. The scene shows a black-and-white closing moment of "Badge of Honor" with the credits inscribed as "Dedicated to Sgt. Jack Vincennes," as Badge of Honor actor (Matt McCoy) closes the door on the HOMICIDE office and walks sorrowfully away. See more »


Referenced in Triple Threat (2005) See more »


But Not for Me
Music by George Gershwin
Lyrics by Ira Gershwin
Performed by Jackie Gleason
Courtesy of Capitol Records
Under license from EMI-Capitol Special Markets
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Three Phenomenal Actors Give The Performances Of A Life Time
1 September 2003 | by (Seattle, WA) – See all my reviews

Six years ago, a director by the name of Curtis Hansen came out with a small time film named L.A. Confidential. Though the movie garnered several big nominations at the 1997 Academy Awards, the nation had been swept up by the gigantic and romantic blockbuster, Titanic, thus shrinking the chances of this brilliant movie from garnering any real awards. 1997 completely screwed this phenomenal film, in which three brilliant actors gave the performances of their careers.

Russell Crowe plays Detective Bud White, a tough L.A. cop who bends the rules in order to bring justice to the city. He is ruthless, and unforgiving of anyone, which brings him into direct conflict with Detective Lieutenant Ed Exley, played by Guy Pearce. Russell Crowe became with this role a full pledged character actor,: the cop with a steel physique, and a vulnerable heart. He becomes so believable and real to the audience, you can not help but sympathize for his character under the circumstances. From this role, Crowe went on to garner three best actor nominations, winning for his role in Gladiator.

Guy Pearce, the little known Australian body builder, became the character known as Ed Exley, a straight, uptight detective trying to live up to the legend his father created before him. Exley has so much to prove to the LAPD, trying to show them that he is just as good, maybe even better, than his father. He plays the politics in a corrupted police department very well, and is able to use these skills in solving the corrupt and mysterious case of the Night Owl murders. This film officially put Guy Pearce in the big leagues of film, making his next appearances in Memento and The Count of Monte Cristo. He is a severely underrated actor who deserves better than what he has been getting.

Finally, the ever wonderful Kevin Spacey. Spacey plays Lieutenant Jack Vincenes, a cop who gives a popular LA police show, Badge of Honor, real solved cases in return for money. Jack sees his life as an ever going soap opera, until he comes across a case that somehow has a connection to the Night Owl murders. Kevin Spacey has proved time and again his abilities as an actor, and he continues with this performance.

Curtis Hansen does a wonderful job bringing this story to the big screen. His talents, although recognized, have not been awarded as of yet. I can only hope that someday, someone will give this amazing director something worthy of his talents.

Highly Recommended.


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Recent Posts
3 plot issues which rely on pure coincidence edlear-83867
How could Bud survive three close-range shots?! li-beinan
Which is the best film ever made in which LA is the star? fnj2002
Did not understand this movie fanslayer
Why did Exely and Lynn sleep together? nestag
Should L.A Confidental have won Best Picture? steve-movies
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