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L.A. Confidential (1997)

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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 »
1,210 ( 184)
Top Rated Movies #106 | Won 2 Oscars. Another 85 wins & 80 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 USA:

$5,211,198, 21 September 1997, Wide Release

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


The role of Bud White was supposedly offered to Michael Madsen. See more »


During the shot of when Bud White's vehicle arrives at Pierce Patchett's house, there is a JUMP-CUT where several frames have been removed. This is noticeable just before Bud opens his car door, the trees in the background appear to suddenly skip in motion. 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 ...
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Crazy Credits

Characters from the movie were incorporated into period stock footage shown during the credits See more »


Referenced in NCIS: New Orleans: NOLA Confidential (2017) See more »


The Lady Is a Tramp
Music by Richard Rodgers
Lyrics by Lorenz Hart
Performed by Gerry Mulligan Quartet
Courtesy of Fantasy, Inc.
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A fascinating look at life in the big city
19 August 2005 | by See all my reviews

Give a collection of great actors a great story to work with and you are likely to end up with something rather special. Such is the case with L.A. Confidential. The boldface names jump off the page...Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Kim Basinger, Danny DeVito, James Cromwell and, in his first big-time role, Guy Pearce. And none of these big names are just mailing it in, here to collect a paycheck. They're all on top of their games, undoubtedly helped to no small extent by the wonderfully nuanced and utterly intriguing story.

This story takes place in 1950s Los Angeles but this is a side of L.A. most people don't get to see. Behind all the Hollywood glamour L.A. has a seamy side which will be the focus of this tale. At the heart of the movie are three cops who ostensibly are supposed to be working together but who go about the business of dispensing justice in very different ways. Crowe plays aggressive hothead Bud White. Spacey is Jack Vincennes, who takes more pride in his work as an adviser on a popular television cop drama than he does in his actual police work. And Pearce plays Edmund Exley, a young up-and-comer in the department who plays things by the book. As we will soon see Exley is rather unique in an LAPD which believes in doing whatever is necessary to bring the guilty to justice. Even if it means becoming a little guilty themselves.

The movie really begins to move forward with a massacre at a coffee shop. It seems a pretty cut and dried case but initial appearances can be deceiving. Soon White, Vincennes and Exley will find themselves caught up in a maze of lies, deception and mystery. It will be a great test for these very different men as it appears they may well need each other's unique talents to solve this puzzle. And quite the elaborate puzzle it is. One important piece is Lynn Bracken, a high class call girl played by Basinger. Tying together many of this complex story's strands is gossip writer Sid Hudgens who is played with appropriate sleaziness by DeVito. And in the background the whole time is the somewhat mysterious Captain Dudley Smith, played by Cromwell. Here is a man who believes in bringing the guilty to justice by any means necessary. That's all well and good if you know who the guilty are but in L.A. Confidential you're never quite sure who to believe. The viewer is guessing right along with the investigators on the screen. And in the end it all comes together and pays off brilliantly.

L.A. Confidential is first and foremost a great story, with many fascinating twists and turns along the way. The film also serves as a showcase for some of this generation's finest acting talents. Each of the main characters is wonderfully unique and each of the actors involved does a terrific job in bringing those characters to life. These are complex characters in a complex tale. It's so involved that the acting had to be stellar if this film was going to work and none of the stars disappoint. Terrific storytelling brought to life by a collection of inspired performances makes L.A. Confidential an absolute winner.

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