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L.A. Confidential (1997) Poster

Trivia

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At the time the film takes place no building in Los Angeles was allowed to be taller than city hall, so the cameras were placed at certain points so that any building taller than city hall would not be seen.
Many of the events in the movie were based upon real events. These include the Bloody Christmas scene where drunken police officers brutally beat up Hispanic prisoners suspected of beating up two uniformed cops (the real-life cops involved were named Trojanowski and Brownson -- in the film, they're referred to as Helenowski and Brown); the plot line of real-life gangster Mickey Cohen's arrest touching off a gang war for control of the rackets; the LAPD Goon Squad which would kidnap out-of-town gangsters, beat them up and threaten to kill them if they ever tried to come back to set up their operations; Lana Turner dating gangster Johnny Stompanato (although this movie is set in 1953, and the real Turner and Stompanato didn't start dating until 1957). In real life, Turner's daughter Cheryl Crane stabbed Stompanato to death on April 4, 1958, after catching him beating her mother.
According to Guy Pearce on the DVD commentary, he attended a James Ellroy one-man show in his native Melbourne, Australia while the film was in pre-production. Pearce notes that during a Q&A session following Ellroy's performance, an audience member asked if any of Ellroy's books would ever be adapted into film. Ellroy replied that not only was L.A. Confidential in pre-production, but two Australian natives (Pearce and Russell Crowe) were cast in the film. The audience erupted into laughter, thinking that Ellroy was playing a wry joke on the audience by randomly naming two local actors and claiming they were cast in a big-budget Hollywood film. Pearce, who was sitting in the audience, was mortified. It was only a year later, that the audience learned that Ellroy was, in fact, telling the truth.
James Ellroy described Kevin Spacey's performance as Jack Vincennes "some of the best self-loathing I've ever seen on screen".
James Ellroy describes the character of Bud White as the biggest cop on the L.A. force. Noting that he wasn't even 6 foot, Russell Crowe decided to move into an apartment so small that he had to duck to get into the doorways and could barely stand up in. Crowe said this worked in making him feel like a "giant" by the time he came to the set to shoot.
In Mickey Rooney's autobiography, he makes a passing reference about The T and M Studio, a brothel where the women were film star lookalikes.
Guy Pearce didn't like the cop that he rode around with, finding him racist. He got more from 1950s police training films which featured the kind of rigid stiffness that he was seeking to bring to his character.
Curtis Hanson cast Russell Crowe after seeing his performance in Romper Stomper (1992). Studio execs were adamantly against the idea of casting two non-Americans (Crowe and Guy Pearce) in an American period piece - both Pearce and Crowe are Australian. Kevin Spacey was told to play his character loosely based on Dean Martin.
The character of rape victim Inez Soto has a much larger role in the novel. There, Inez is the girl over which Bud and Exley compete.
Curtis Hanson got a great deal of resistance to having three lead characters. At first he was told to delete Exley and Vincennes and make the film a star vehicle for the actor playing Bud White. When he explained why Exley was essential, they told him to delete White and Vincennes. When he insisted that all three were essential, he was given a budget of only $15 million, which meant he couldn't afford to hire a big-name actor to headline the film even if he wanted to; which he didn't: he wanted to hire actors who brought no audience expectations to the kind of role they would be playing. An exception to this rule was James Cromwell, whom audiences would expect to be one of the heroes after seeing him in Babe (1995).
To pitch the movie to backers (and, later, to explain his aesthetic ideas about it to various cast and crew members), director Curtis Hanson put together a group of 18 period images illustrating different aspects of what he hoped to convey with the movie. These included the "Welcome to Los Angeles" postcard that's in the first shot of the movie. Photos of tract housing, orange groves, and the glamour shot of Veronica Lake are framed on Lynn Bracken's wall. Hanson also chose studio photos of two lesser-known 1950s actors (Aldo Ray and Guy Madison) to show to Guy Pearce and Russell Crowe what he envisioned as models for the characters Ed Exley and Bud White. Exley's model was Madison, while White's was Ray. This film takes its name from "Confidential", a notorious 1950s-era movie star tabloid, which is fictionally portrayed herein as "Hush-Hush".
The film has 80 speaking parts.
Some of the close-ups of Guy Pearce's face in the scene where he and Russell Crowe get into a fight were shot four months after principle photography had ended. Much to Curtis Hanson's dismay, Pearce had shaved his head within the time-span and had to wear a wig. During a Q and A session, Pearce referred to it as a "very expensive wig" and noted that in Australia there is no concept of returning to shoot pick-ups weeks or even months later.
The closing credits include old footage of famous cowboy star William Boyd as his character Hopalong Cassidy on horseback at a parade. Special effects make it appear that he is marching just in front of the cast of the films fictional police show Badge of Honor.
Simon Baker's big screen debut.
Twice the project was pitched to television: first, producer David L. Wolper wanted to produce the project as a mini-series, and later, it was being developed as a weekly series by HBO. A pilot that starred Kiefer Sutherland was produced, but the series was not picked up afterwards.
Director Curtis Hanson stated that Kim Basinger was the first and only choice for the role of Lynn Bracken.
Pierce Patchett's business is based on the long-time rumor that there really was a house of prostitution in Hollywood that supplied ladies meticulously dressed and made up to resemble famous movie stars. In his memoir "Hollywood: Stars and Starlets, Tycoons and Flesh-Peddlers, Moviemakers and Moneymakers, Frauds and Geniuses, Hopefuls and Has-Beens, Great Lovers and Sex Symbols", screenwriter Garson Kanin describes a visit to a place called Mae's where the madam dressed as Mae West and presided over a cast of replicas of Barbara Stanwyck, Joan Crawford, Carole Lombard, Marlene Dietrich and Ginger Rogers, among others.
The painting in Patchett's house (at around 1 hr 28 mins) is a copy of "Group of Four Nudes" (1925) by Tamara de Lempicka.
Before filming began, Curtis Hanson brought Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce to Los Angeles for two months to immerse them in the city and the time period. He also brought them dialect coaches and introduced them to real-life cops.
At the end of the opening credits, where you see a copy of Hush-Hush Magazine before Curtis Hanson's director credit appears, the magazine's main cover story is an interview with mob boss Mickey Cohen. The other front page story is Ingenue Dykes in Hollywood. This leads into the scene a short time afterward, when Sid Hudgens, Hush-Hush's editor, approaches Jack Vincennes. Jack introduces Sid to his dance partner, Karen, who walks away. Jack then asks what's wrong and Sid explains "We did a piece on Ingenue Dykes and her name got mentioned."
Guy Pearce did not like Ed Exley when he first read the screenplay as he felt the character was overly self-righteous.
The Victory Motel - where the climactic shoot-out takes place - was the only set actually constructed for the film.
"L.A. Confidential" is the third installment in author James Ellroy's "L.A. Quartet" series.
Mickey Cohen, the mobster who gets locked up which causes the war for control of the drug trade in the story, was a real-life Los Angeles mobster from the late '30s until his death in 1976 after two imprisonments for tax evasion. He was a small-time hood who joined forces with New York gangster Bugsy Siegel when Siegel came to L.A. to run the rackets (see the film Bugsy (1991)). After Siegel's murder in 1947, Cohen took over the rackets that Bugsy had built up, including labor union shakedowns at the studios, drug trafficking, gambling and prostitution. He was so hated by the police that he was constantly arrested for any crime, big or small (he was once arrested for using foul language on the street). As shown in the movie, he was eventually imprisoned for income tax evasion and spent nearly ten years in prison. After his release, he was semi-retired from the rackets and lived off his wealth, remaining a colorful character in Los Angeles until his death in 1976.
The shotguns used by the LAPD in this film are Ithaca Model 37s, easily identifiable by the lack of an ejection port on the right side (they eject from the bottom). White and Exley both carry Colt Detective Specials.
In preparation, Curtis Hanson showed his cast and crew Kiss Me Deadly (1955), Bad Influence (1990), The Killing (1956), The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), In a Lonely Place (1950), Private Hell 36 (1954) and The Lineup (1958).
The film used 45 different locations.
Kevin Spacey asked Curtis Hanson who he would have cast as Jack Vincennes if he was making the film in the 50s, expecting the director to say someone like William Holden. He was quite surprised when Hanson said Dean Martin, citing one of his more serious pictures - Some Came Running (1958) - as an example of the actor used well.
Much has been made about the fact that this L.A. based and inspired film stars two Australians in two of its most prominent roles. Actually, that should be three for further down the cast list, in the smaller part of the actor who gets busted, is a young Simon Baker.
The role of Bud White was supposedly offered to Michael Madsen.
The photos seen during the vice squad briefing were copies of photos taken by fetish artist John Willie during his L.A. period. One of his models was murdered by a serial killer and was mentioned in James Ellroy's My Dark Places.
Curtis Hanson deliberately did not watch Guy Pearce's performance in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994) as he felt it would adversely affect his decision to cast the young actor.
Russell Crowe based his performance on that of Sterling Hayden in Stanley Kubrick's The Killing (1956).
Curtis Hanson and Brian Helgeland worked on the script together for two years. In that time, Hanson turned down several directing gigs and Helgeland cranked out seven drafts for free.
Jerry Goldsmith, who got an Academy Award nomination for this movie's score, replaced Elmer Bernstein.
The off screen voice in the morgue scene ("We're ready with that Nite Owl ID, lieutenant.") belongs to director Curtis Hanson.
The script went through seven drafts before Curtis Hanson felt confident enough to let James Ellroy see it.
Curtis Hanson and his cinematographer Dante Spinotti wanted to shoot the film in widescreen. They studied two CinemaScope films of the period - Douglas Sirk's The Tarnished Angels (1957) and Vincente Minnelli's Some Came Running (1958).
The character of Brett Chase is modeled after Jack Webb.
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.
When he heard that Curtis Hanson had been hired to direct the film, Brian Helgeland met him on the set of The River Wild (1994) and pitched himself as his collaborator.
Warner Brothers executive Bill Gerber showed the script to Michael G. Nathanson, CEO of New Regency Productions (who had a deal with the studio). Nathanson was bowled over by the screenplay but knew he would have to get approval from his company head, Arnon Milchan. He got Curtis Hanson to prepare a presentation that included pictures of orange groves, beaches and the opening of the Hollywood Freeway to symbolize how prosperous the area appeared to be at the time. Then Hanson would show the darker side of Hollywood at the time, with scandal rags and the famous shot of Robert Mitchum coming out of jail following his drugs bust. Hanson took great pains to emphasize that the period detail would be in the background, with the characters fully in the foreground. Milchan was immediately impressed with his presentation and agreed to finance the film.
Curtis Hanson did not want the film to be overly nostalgic so had Dante Spinotti shoot it like a contemporary film.
Anjelica Huston and Kate Capshaw were each offered the role of Lynn, but both of them turned it down.

Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

Kevin Spacey had a great deal of difficulty playing dead. It was easy enough for him to stare straight ahead when there was another actor in front of him, but he first instinct was to follow James Cromwell with his eyes when he moved. He had to ask a production assistant to draw a circle for him to look at onto the opposite wall.
Body count: 30
The weapon with which Capt. Dudley Smith (James Cromwell) murders Sgt. Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey) is a Model 1903 Colt Pocket Hammerless automatic in .32 ACP caliber. Colt stopped production of this weapon in 1945. They are now much sought after by collectors.
WILHELM SCREAM: During the final shoot-out in the motel.

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