L.A. Confidential (1997) Poster


Body count: thirty.
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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 L.A.P.D. 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. The murders of Tony Broncanto and Tony Trombino also occurred in real-life. The main difference being, they were shot from behind by Los Angeles mobster Jimmy Fratianno, instead of machine gunned from outside.
Kim Basinger turned down the role of Lynn Bracken three times before finally saying yes. She was Director Curtis Hanson's first, and only choice.
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 describes the character of Bud White as the biggest cop on the Los Angeles force. Noting that he wasn't even six 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. Crowe said this worked in making him feel like a "giant" by the time he came to the set to shoot.
James Ellroy described Kevin Spacey's performance of Jack Vincennes as "Some of the best self-loathing I've ever seen on-screen."
Guy Pearce did not like Ed Exley when he first read the screenplay, as he felt the character was overly self-righteous.
The character of rape victim Inez Soto has a much larger role in the novel. There, Inez is the girl over whom Bud and Exley compete.
Studio executives were adamantly against the idea of casting two non-Americans (Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce) in an American period piece. Pearce and Crowe are Australian. Besides their national origins, both Crowe and Pearce were relative unknowns in North America, and there was equal concern about the lack of film stars in the lead roles.
Curtis Hanson did not want the film to be overly nostalgic, so he had Cinematographer Dante Spinotti shoot it like a contemporary film, and use more naturalistic lighting, than in a classic film noir. He told Spinotti and the film's Production Designer Jeannine Oppewall to pay great attention to period detail, but to then "put it all in the background".
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.
Guy Pearce didn't like the cop, with whom he rode around, finding him to be 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.
The script went through seven drafts before Curtis Hanson felt confident enough to let James Ellroy see it.
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.
To pitch the movie to backers (and later, to explain his aesthetic ideas about it to various cast and crew members), Curtis Hanson put together a group of eighteen 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 glamor 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".
Curtis Hanson and Screenwriter 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.
A long time fan of James Ellroy's work, when Brian Helgeland heard that Warner Brothers had acquired the rights to L.A. Confidential in 1990, he lobbied hard to script the film. At the time, however, the studio was only interested in using established writers.
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 several weeks, or months later.
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 drug 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.
The film used forty-five different locations.
Simon Baker's big screen debut.
Russell Crowe based his performance on that of Sterling Hayden in Stanley Kubrick's The Killing (1956) "for that beefy manliness that came out of World War II".
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.
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).
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.
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 Bugsy Siegel, when Siegel came to Los Angeles to run the rackets 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.
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.
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," 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 photos seen during the vice squad briefing, were copies of photos taken by fetish artist John Willie during his Los Angeles period. One of his models was murdered by a serial killer and was mentioned in James Ellroy's "My Dark Places".
"L.A. Confidential" is the third installment in James Ellroy's "L.A. Quartet" series.
The film has eighty speaking parts.
The closing credits include footage of William Boyd as his character "Hopalong Cassidy", on horseback at a parade. Visual effects make it appear as if he is marching just in front of the cast of the films fictional police show "Badge of Honor".
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.
Much has been made about the fact that this Los Angeles-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.
Russell Crowe initially turned the film down, as he did not believe he could convincingly portray such a tough character.
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 Curtis Hanson.
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."
(At around one hour and twenty-eight minutes) The painting in Patchett's house is a copy of "Group of Four Nudes" (1925) by Tamara de Lempicka.
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 carry Colt Detective Specials.
Curtis Hanson and Dante Spinotti shot the film in 2.35:1 widescreen. They studied Douglas Sirk's The Tarnished Angels (1957) and Vincente Minnelli's Some Came Running (1958), two CinemaScope films of the period.
"Rollo Tomasi" is the name of a song by The Sheepdogs.
The character of Brett Chase is modeled after Jack Webb.
The film is included on Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" list.
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The film cast includes three Oscar winners: Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, and Kim Basinger; and three Oscar nominees: James Cromwell, David Strathairn, and Danny DeVito.
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Included among the "1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die," edited by Steven Schneider.
This marked Kim Basinger's return to the big screen after a three-year hiatus. This was also her first successful film since _Batman (1989)_qv).
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Russell Crowe recalled that James Ellroy told him that Bud White doesn't drink. So, Crowe didn't have a drink for the entire shoot, which he described as the most painful period of his life.
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Mel Gibson was considered to play Bud White.
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For her work on this film, casting director Mali Finn so impressed Curtis Hanson that she ended up casting four of his next five movies.
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This was voted as the best film set in Los Angeles in the last 25 years by a group of Los Angeles Times writers and editors with two criteria: "The movie had to communicate some inherent truth about the L.A. experience, and only one film per director was allowed on the list."
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Curtis Hanson cast Russell Crowe after seeing him in Romper Stomper (1992). He found him "repulsive and scary, but captivating".
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Russell Crowe had read James Ellroy's "The Black Dahlia" but not "L.A. Confidential". When he read the script, Crowe was drawn to Bud White's "self-righteous moral crusade".
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The major cast members in this movie, had roles in superhero movies, Kevin Spacey in Superman Returns (2006), Kim Basinger in Batman (1989), Guy Pearce in Iron Man Three (2013), James Cromwell in Spider-Man 3 (2007), Danny DeVito in Batman Returns (1992), and Russell Crowe in Man of Steel (2013). Even though these roles all happened years after LA Confidential, there is a bimonthly 'actors who starred in LA Confidential and a comic book movie reunion'
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James Cromwell and Matt McCoy appeared on Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987). Creator Gene Roddenberry was once an LAPD officer, and modeled Spock after Chief of Police William H. Parker, who appears as a character in this film.
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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 an actor or actress in front of him, but his 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, at which to look, on the opposite wall.
Curtis Hanson received 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 fifteen million dollars, 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).
The Victory Motel, where the climactic shoot-out takes place, was the only set actually constructed for the film.
Dick Stensland, the cop killed at the Nite Owl, got his name from the character of a police officer killed in the first season of Adam-12 (1968).
Despite having top-billing, Kevin Spacey has the least amount of screentime out of the three main actors.
WILHELM SCREAM: During the final shoot-out in the motel.
During the final shoot-out, Exley and White use a pump action shotgun, a .38 revolver, a .45 automatic pistol, and a switchblade to defend themselves. In the book's prologue, Buzz Meeks uses the same weapons in a similar situation.
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