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
The chain of events that led to William Petersen and John Pankow's casting in the film began when director William Friedkin decided to not bother trying to cast established film stars due to the project's relatively low budget ($6 million). Friedkin was born and began his career in Chicago and was familiar with fellow Chicagoan Petersen's work, and with him in mind for the lead role of Chance, he called Petersen in for a reading of the script and immediately offered him the part. When Petersen came in to accept the role, he brought Pankow because the two men were longtime friends and had acted in many Chicago-area projects, and told Friedkin he thought Pankow would be perfect for the role of Vukovich. The director ran a scene with Pankow and then cast him on the spot. See more »
According to the title cards, the film begins in mid December and ends in late January. However, there is no mention whatsoever of Christmas or New Year's Day, and none of the sets has decorations of any kind for either holiday. See more »
When Friedkin went "back on the streets" in 1985 to make TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A., he made a classic that will endure and that perfectly captures its 80's milieu.
I don't understand these idiots who complain how a film is "dated" by its music. Of course a film is "dated" by its specific elements, but so what. This superb film, which has an amazingly kinetic Wang Cheung score, is about a time (the mid-eighties) and place (L.A.) that is now history, and it is a punishing document.
The film works on many levels. Yes, it is about counterfeiting and superficial (re: counterfeit) relationships. It is about greed, survival, justice and morality. It is also about human beings using and laying to waste other human beings.
These powerful ingredients weave their way through a police procedural/action thriller plot that never stops to catch its breath and is pure cinema.
Willem Dafoe is totally engrossing as the film's villain, while William Peterson delivers a highly focused, tough turn. Dean Stockwell is also a stand-out as a crook lawyer and real cop Jack Hoar is quietly spectacular as Dafoe's mule.
And the film boasts one unbelievable car chase that has not been equaled since.
But LIVE AND DIE is also a film that expertly marries the visual to the aural and depicts a part of Southern California that has not been so credibly depicted before.
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