250 user 115 critic

To Live and Die in L.A. (1985)

2:11 | Trailer
A fearless Secret Service agent will stop at nothing to bring down the counterfeiter who killed his partner.


William Friedkin


Gerald Petievich (novel), William Friedkin (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
4,271 ( 229)
3 wins. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
William Petersen ... Richard Chance (as William L. Petersen)
Willem Dafoe ... Eric Masters
John Pankow ... John Vukovich
Debra Feuer ... Bianca Torres
John Turturro ... Carl Cody
Darlanne Fluegel ... Ruth Lanier (as Darlanne Fleugel)
Dean Stockwell ... Bob Grimes
Steve James ... Jeff Rice
Robert Downey Sr. ... Thomas Bateman (as Robert Downey)
Michael Greene Michael Greene ... Jim Hart
Christopher Allport ... Max Waxman
Jack Hoar Jack Hoar ... Jack
Valentin de Vargas ... Judge Filo Cedillo (as Val DeVargas)
Dwier Brown ... Doctor
Michael Chong ... Thomas Ling


Working largely in cases of counterfeiting, LA based Secret Service agent Richie Chance exhibits reckless behavior which according to his longtime and now former partner Jimmy Hart will probably land him in the morgue before he's ready to retire. That need for the thrill manifests itself in his personal life by his love of base jumping. Professionally, it is demonstrated by the fact that he is sextorting a parolee named Ruth Lanier, who feeds him information in return for him not sending her back to prison for some trumped up parole violation. With his new partner John Vukovich, Chance is more determined than ever, based on recent circumstances, to nab known longtime counterfeiter Ric Masters, who is more than willing to use violence against and kill anyone who crosses him. Masters is well aware that the Secret Service is after him. Masters' operation is somewhat outwardly in disarray, with Chance being able to nab his mule, Carl Cody, in the course of moving some of the fake money, ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The director of "The French Connection" is on the streets again! See more »


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Both William Petersen and John Pankow were involved with some adaptation of Reginald Rose's play "12 Angry Men". Petersen played Juror #12 in 12 Angry Men (1997) while Pankow played Juror #7 in the 2004 Broadway revival. Director William Friedkin directed an adaptation of this play for TV. See more »


In the opening sequence with the motorcade, traffic is shown going in the opposite direction on the same street and pedestrians are standing outside the hotel a few feet away from the motorcade's arrival. The US Secret Service and local law enforcement completely shut down motorcade routes for events such as the one depicted, and pedestrians would not be allowed to be so close to the motorcade. This indicates the film's budget was insufficient to close down the street and the hotel location. See more »


Ruth Lanier: I was reading about the stars. Talked about how the stars are the eyes of god. I think it's true, don't you?
Richard Chance: No, I don't.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Right at the end, after the credits, there is a shot of William Petersen's face See more »

Alternate Versions

German theatrical and VHS versions were cut by 25 seconds to secure a "Not under 16" rating. DVD release is uncut with the same rating. See more »


Referenced in Psychos in Love (1987) See more »


Lawdy! Lawdy!
Performed by Junior Wells
Courtesy of Delmark Records
See more »

User Reviews

A film that was ahead of its time
31 December 2005 | by 4-KaneSee all my reviews

Admittedly, To Live and Die in L.A. was not well-received by many critics when it was released in 1985. I believe it was because the movie was ahead of its time. Back then, one would have naturally expected an action movie that clearly defines the difference between the good guys and the bad guys. But it would be different in this film.

Without giving too much away, the main cops who are supposedly good guys are unethical. Richard Chance makes it clear that he doesn't care how he would catch the money counterfeiter Rick Masters. But as he tries to attain this goal, he runs into trouble, including a car chase that leads to a drive down the wrong side of the Los Angeles freeway! (Don't ever try that stunt!)

The way I see it, To Live and Die in L.A. is an underrated classic.

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English | Arabic | Spanish

Release Date:

1 November 1985 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

To Live and Die in L.A. See more »


Box Office


$6,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$3,551,761, 3 November 1985

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (TV)

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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