Mulholland Falls (1996) Poster

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Atmosphere, Photography Outshine The Story
ccthemovieman-124 February 2008
As a fan film noir, I loved the 1940s and '50s period atmosphere in this movie. This particular story takes place in the early 1950s. Parts of this reminded me of "Chinatown," but this film doesn't have the impact of that one. It's just not as memorable.

You get an idea that this might be another cops-or government officials-are-a- little-over the top when you see who plays them: Nick Nolte, Michael Madsen, Chris Penn, Chazz Palminteri, Treat Williams, Bruce Dern, John Malkovich, Ed Lauter, Andrew McCarthy, etc. Those guys usually play crooks, not cops. Same with the women in here. Jennifer Connelly and Melanie Griffith aren't exactly Irene Dunne and Doris Day!

We also see CSI star William Petersen playing a Chicago mobster! Unbilled in this film were Louise Fletcher, of "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" fame, and Rob Lowe.

This story is a rough-edged for my tastes, with the normal political agendas (government is bad.....again) thrown in here and there, but what I really liked - outside of the look, the "whodunit" angle and the deep cast, was Haskell Wexler's photography. He makes it fun to watch, even if it is no "Chinatown" or "The Big Sleep."
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Solid Falls
dromasca7 December 2002
Interestingly enough, at this moment the life and career of the movie's director seems to be at a maximum high, having just released the latest James Bond, while actor Nick Nolte seems to be in some kind of personal trouble in his private life, and without any major role for the last few years. 'Mulholland Falls' might remain his last great role - he is giving an outstanding performance here, in a solid and well paced film.

The 'Falls' not only is located in the 50s, but it is also done like a 50s movie. Were not for the recorded sex scenes, hard to distinguish that the film was made in the mid 90s. The level of detail and authenticity is perfect.

The only minus of the film is in the rather artificial manner that the story line is resolved - it looks again like a 50s B-movie end, but a bad one.

'LA Confidential' came one year later, and referred to a similar story line and environment. It got much more attention, and better critical reception. In my opinion, 'Mulholland Falls' does not fall behind, and later critics will place the two films on the same shelf of the movie history. 8/10 on my personal scale.
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Pretty good cop thriller (spoilers within).
vertigo_1413 May 2004
Looking at the four stern faces of the suited men on the cover, you'd think this was yet another movie about gangsters. But it isn't. Fans of another fantastic period cop drama, L.A. Confidential, should enjoy this film, as they are quite similar in theme. Like Russle Crowe's hard-edged cop character in L.A. Confidential, the four cops in this movie, do what they must to dispense justice. Despite their violent methods, they are nonetheless vigilante about justice.

Unorthodox and often unethical Los Angeles cops, Max Hoover (Nick Notle), Elleroy Coolige (Chaz Palminteri), Eddie Hall (Mike Madsen), and Arthur Relyea (Chris Penn), do what they can from keeping the trash from moving into the city. Tossing gangsters down Mullholland Falls, the symbolic dumping site for the exiled criminals, and tearing up coke dealers and pimps with a handy black jack, these cops don't take crap. (It should be interesting enough at this point to see both Penn and Madsen not playing their usual roles as sadistic gangsters).

The four cops are preoccupied with a new investigation after Max's former lover, Allison Pond (Jennifer Connelly), is discovered dead in a development yard. The case tests Max's limits on the ability to sift out the suspects and overcome whatever obstacles stand in his way of justice. At first, it seems as though this is just another story in which the villain turns out to be zealous leaders of the mafia who go to all ends to get what they wants (usually a profit venture). But that is not the case here. Max and the gang find themselves going up against the government and military, implicating Atomic Energy Commissioner (John Malkovich) and an eager Colonel (Treat Williams), to find out what is what that Allison was involved with that lead to her death. The movie takes place during the 1940s around New Mexico's White Plains nuclear testing site, and makes some challenges to the ethics of nuclear testing.

This movie has a tremendous cast, even in minor roles. Nick Nolte does a fantastic job, as does John Malckovich in the role of the dreamy, dying Atomic Energy Commissioner.

I also compare this film to L.A. Confidential because it seemed like some of the settings (and even the arrangement of scenes) are very similar to those used in the former. For example, Max Hoover's house (especially the living room and bedroom) looked almost identical to the one where Kevin Spacey and Danny DeVito break into the house in the beginning to bust up a minor "pot party." The bedroom looked much like that one for Kim Basinger's house as well. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the same people involved in Mullholland Falls likewise worked on L.A. Confidential.

It isn't your traditional cop drama/political thriller because of the nature of the main characters. They don't always play by the rules, but in the end, they are the good guys. And, it's got a good finale.
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The Rule Book Is Out
bkoganbing24 January 2008
Nick Nolte heads the cast of Mulholland Falls which came out a year earlier than L.A. Confidential and covered the same time period with similar themes. L.A. Confidential is a much better film, but Mulholland Falls does have its supporters.

The title refers to no waterfall because as a bad guy in the film so aptly put it, there aren't any waterfalls in Los Angeles. What it is, is a cliff off Mulholland Drive in which Nolte and his elite squad make a habit of throwing wise guys off. If they survive they have the option of a further trip or go back where they came from.

This was in the days of Chief William F. Parker of Los Angeles who took over one of the most corrupt police forces in the country. He dealt with systemic corruption in much the same manner J. Edgar Hoover did in taking over the corrupt Federal Bureau of Investigation after the Teapot Dome Scandal. Both men were authoritarian in the methods and their temperament. And both men have their supporters and detractors to this day.

But the main body of the film concerns a homicide of party girl Jennifer Connelly who as it turns out was not only involved with Nick Nolte, but with U.S. Army General John Malkovich who was just appointed to the Atomic Energy Commission.

Malkovich has an aide in Colonel Treat Williams who is every bit as extra legal as Nolte and his squad are. In this case the rule book is out on both sides.

In addition to those mentioned some nice performances are given by Melanie Griffith as Nolte's wife, Andrew McCarthy as the photographer and friend of Connelly who taped her sexual sessions. And stealing every scene he's in is Chazz Palmenteri as Nolte's partner, undergoing psychological therapy.

Though L.A. Confidential is definitely the superior film, if you liked that film, you'll no doubt like Mulholland Falls.
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Derivative cops & corruption
rmax30482323 September 2003
It's not an awful movie but it comes rather late in a cycle of cops vs. corruption in high places during the fifteen years between Chinatown (set in 1937) and L. A. Confidential (1954) and encompassing True Confessions (ca. 1948) and Farewell my Lovely (1941). That is to say, we've seen much of this before. So have the writers, the director, and the composer. So instead of John Huston as a corrupt entrepreneur we have John Malkovich as an apparently homicidal head of the Atomic Energy Commission. The period is evoked by clothing and cars, especially a big black Buick convertible over which the camera lingers like a proud lover. But, forsooth, what ugly beasts they were, weighing as much as a Sherman tank, getting the same mileage as a prime mover, having the suspension of a giant trampoline, and decorated like a whore with chromium and fake louvres. The cops occupy the same gray area as the cops in L. A. Confidential or any of the other similar movies, dumping unwanted gangsters off "Mulholland Falls," their mocking name for a steep hill off Mulholland Drive.

Good cast, though. Nolte brings his brute-force persona to the role, gravel voiced, tough, inelegant. Chaz Palmintieri is a semi-comic sidekick (not his forte) who is, we can tell before too long, fated to undergo what so many other devoted partners without prominent roles undergo. Malkovitch is great as a wheezing, dying, ex-general who gets off a good riff on how, since atoms are mostly empty space, the very floor we stand on, our very own bodies, are little more than empty space giving off an illusion of solidity.

(I used to tell my classes the same thing and when I was finished and waiting for the applause, I'd notice that everyone was staring at me as if I'd turned into some kind of marmoset.) Jennifer Connolly has only a few lines, but what lines they are! There are few more gorgeous creatures than she now gracing the screen. Melanie Griffith is given a washed-out very blonde look. She delivers in her small part what is probably her most intense and believable performance. At no time was I ever embarrassed for her. Treat Williams is pretty good as an eminence verte. The other actors aren't faceless -- we recognize Baldwin and Ed Lauter -- but they might as well be.

The art direction lacks the temporal precision found in Chinatown or Farewell My Lovely, where even the tumblers and highball glasses were diachronically sound. Except for some subtle work in the general's house. The living room is, without ostentation, pretty gruesome in its decor -- stuffed pheasants, a table lamp that stands on (get this) stuffed deer feet!

No wonder the general babbles on about atoms. The score is as derivative as the rest of the movie. Dave Grusin has borrowed heavily from Chinatown's melancholy theme, arpeggios on plucked strings, and tremolo violins bespeaking uneasiness.

Underneath it all, though, it's another cops vs. villain movie. There are a couple of shootouts, a double plane-throwing, one or two mashed bodies. The characters are almost desperately differentiated but they are not captured. They don't do things like get a shave while they argue with other customers and banter with the barber. The film doesn't really seem to HAVE much of a setting, and it doesn't have much in the way of inhabitants. The scenes are strictly functional. Nothing is lingered over. There is no beauty here.

On the plus side, there are some great shots of a DC-3 (or C47), one of the most pilot-friendly aircraft ever put together. Some of them are still flying commercially after 50 years. How friendly are they? A crew was flying one through dense fog over Greenland during the war when the flight started getting very rough indeed, pieces of ice banging against the fuselage, vibrations, terrible shocking bumps. Then the engines stopped entirely and the plane slowed to a halt. The crew found that they had made a wheels-up landing atop a glacier without knowing it. On the negative side, a minor carp, in the scene when we first meet Treat Williams, a radio operator in the background says something like "Tango three, out." Wrong phonetic alphabet. In the early 50s it would still have been "Tare three, out."
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A forgotten '90s noir
blanche-211 July 2010
A top drawer cast stars in "Mulholland Falls," a 1996 film starring Nick Nolte, Chazz Palmentieri, Melanie Griffith, Jennifer Connelly, Michael Madsen, Treat Williams, Bruce Dern, and John Malkovich, directed by New Zealand director Lee Tamahori.

Sometimes when I don't know the year of a film, I try to guess. I placed this film in 1998 because I concluded it must have come after "L.A. Confidential" since it's about '50s crime investigation. Also, Jennifer Connelly is very young here - reminiscent of the way she looked in "Dark City." I was two years off.

The story concerns the L.A. Hat Squad, led by Max Hoover (Nolte) called to investigate the brutal murder of Allison Pond (Jennifer Connelly). When her body is turned over, Hoover realizes it's an ex-girlfriend. He's never told his wife (Melanie Griffith) about the affair, stating that he had the affair, it ended, no one got hurt, and to tell her would hurt her deeply. The investigation of the murder leads to a general (John Malkovich), an atom bomb testing site, secret film footage, and military secrets.

Very good performances from everyone - had Nolte been able to keep his life together, he could have been up there with the very greatest. He's always been capable of truly great performances, all the way back to the "Rich Man, Poor Man" days. Here one can feel his tremendous sadness and weariness. It's a pall that hangs over the entire film. Jennifer Connelly, whose part isn't very large, is gorgeous, sexy, and tough. Melanie Griffith gives a mature performance as Hoover's wife. Uncredited in the film are Rob Lowe and Louise Fletcher. There is a very exciting scene at the end of the movie.

"Mulholland Falls" never received the attention that "L.A. Confidential" did. One can blame marketing, but the story isn't special enough, the characters not as well delineated, and the pace is a bit too leisurely. This isn't to say it's not a good film. It's just not exceptional.

I applaud anyone who does a period noir that comes off like a noir and not a bad attempt. There, "Mullholland Falls" succeeds admirably.
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got all the style but not enough excitement
SnoopyStyle10 May 2015
It's 1950s L.A. Lieutenant Maxwell Hoover (Nick Nolte), Coolidge (Chazz Palminteri), Hall (Michael Madsen) and Relyea (Chris Penn) are a squad of rough LAPD detectives who throw bad guys off a hill on Mulholland Drive. They investigate the murder of Allison Pond (Jennifer Connelly) who actually is linked to Hoover. They uncover secretly filmed sex sessions as well as the Nevada Atomic Testing Site. They are threatened by Colonel Fitzgerald (Treat Williams). She also had an affair with General Thomas Timms (John Malkovich), head of Atomic Energy Commission.

It's a tightly wound neo-noir. Connelly is a sort-of-femme-fatale on celluloid. Maybe they should have included a sister following the investigation in the present. The flashback aren't as interesting. Nick Nolte is good at being hard but his desperation needs to be heightened. This movie has most of the elements of a hard-boiled film noir but it does lack the sharp dialog. It needs more thrills to go along with the style.
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Film noir in the 90's
rainking_es16 November 2006
Along with movies such as "The public eye" or "LA Confidencial", "Mulholland Falls" is one of those products that aim to recreate the atmosphere of film noir, making everything look a little bit more modern, more violent….

"Mulholland Falls" moves between the thriller and the detective movies, and the cast is its strong point: Nolte, Palminteri, Penn, Maden… four time bombs, four real tough guys. When Nolte or Palminteri lose their temper you'd rather not be around… Murder, questions, a good script, great actors… Nice movie.

*My rate: 7/10
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If you're paying attention, it's not a half-bad movie.
AnnieP15 February 2001
First of all, let's get this straight - the story takes place in 1953, not the '40's. Now - you've got these four guys riding around in a convertible in bad L.A. There's a comic aspect to this little ritual, kind of Abbott and Costello times 2, but it's hard to know who's the straight man.

The plot is not a new one, but the violence has (at least) the merit of being real person-to-person violence (as differentiated from being acted in front of a blue screen and digitally augmented). There are too many "name" actors here, and (I'll grant) not much character development, but it's a chance to watch Nick Nolte and Bruce Dern do their signature performances - Nick, impassive and looming large, has played this role many times before, and always to good effect. He was better doing it in "Q&A", but that was TOO real, and a much too scary. Bruce Dern's overacting is almost reassuring and one of the few animated performances in the picture.

Melanie is subdued, being the window dressing, and they have her wearing shoulder pads, which wasn't a fifties thing, but she gives a good performance without any of the lip-licking she usually resorts to. The photography is good, the desert ominous, and watching evil Treat Williams get thrown out of the plane most entertaining.

It's not Chekov, it's not anything wonderful at all, but it reeks of ambience. I'd recommend it as an evening's entertanment. Much better, certainly, than the stuff that passes as entertainment on the big screen most of the time.

Sure wish they'd given Michael Madsen more screen time - what if they'd pushed Chaz Palmintieri out of the plane early on and beefed Mike's role? Whadya say?
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Solid neo-noir mystery
Tweekums31 May 2018
Set in the early nineteen fifties this film follows the 'Hat Squad'; four LAPD detectives willing to do whatever it takes, including murder, to rid the City of Angels of organised crime. Then one day they are called in when a woman's body is found outside the city; she is half buried and just about every bone is broken as if she was pushed off a cliff but there are none around. She is Alison Pond who we soon learn was involved with Detective Lieutenant Maxwell Hoover, the leader of the squad. Not long after they start investigating somebody sends in a reel of film which shows Alison and a man in a compromising position. He is soon identified as a general in charge of the US Atomic Energy Commission. He has an alibi for the time she died but as pressure from above is applied to Hoover and his squad it looks as though Alison was killed because she saw something she wasn't meant to; what that is remains a mystery though.

I really enjoyed this film; it provided an interesting mystery and great atmosphere. As others have said it doesn't just feel like a film set in the fifties, it feels almost like a film made them. The cast does a great job; Nick Nolte is on top form as Hoover and Chazz Palminteri, Michael Madsen and Chris Penn impress as the other members of the Hat Squad. There are also solid performances from Jennifer Connelly and Melanie Griffith and Alison and Hoover's wife Katherine. The story unfolds at a good pace and while the identity of the killer isn't a total surprise and the mystery of how Alison came to die seemed pretty obvious it didn't really matter as the big question as to why she was killed wasn't obvious at all. At the end things do get a bit melodramatic but that goes with the genre. There are some fairly violent scenes and some fairly tame sex scenes; I was surprised that it was given a UK-18 certificate though... unless there was something I missed I suspect it would be given a 15 if it were rated today. Overall I'd certainly recommend this to fans of neo-noir films; the story of good and the atmosphere is great.
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An Unexpected and Pleasant Surprise.
randywhitten22 March 2006
After years of reading bad reviews about Mulholland Falls, I recently turned on this DVD with low expectations and was totally surprised by how much fun this great little popcorn movie was; right down to the soundtrack . Great cast, great look and about as much logic and charm as the old 50's detective magazines. After seeing Nick Nolte in this, I'm now hoping to see him in a future Tarrantino movie. Nolte would also be a perfect fit in one of the upcoming Sin City sequels. I also have new respect for Roger Ebert, one of the few critics who enjoyed the movie for what it was meant to be. It seems to me that those who didn't like this movie, missed its point. While this isn't Academy Award material, it's a hell of a lot better than the critics would make you believe it was.
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Not Enough Jennifer Connelly
eibon0421 November 2000
Mulholland Falls(1996) has a good premise but fails to realize its potential as a great film. The depiction of The Hat squad is good and the image of L.A. during the early 50s is beautiful. The rest of the film lifts ideas that were better realized in films like The Big Heat(1953), and Chinatown(1974). Another complaint I have of this movie is that Jennifer Connelly has very little screen time and I would have liked to see more of her because she has a presence that overshadows the other actors(her character is the only person to sympathize with). Mulholland Falls(1996) would be remade in a sense a year later as L.A. Confidential(1997).
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Nice Nostalgia piece
Bynovekka111 May 2001
Nick Nolte must have thought he died and went to heaven when he was offered the part of Max Hoover in Mulholland Falls. Consider, in the film Hoover is married to the lovely Melanie Griffith while simultaneously involved in a torrid affair with ultra sexy Jennifer Connelly. Now I ask you, what sane man could turn down such a part? To Nolte's credit he kept his mind on business and turned in a excellent performance.

As Hoover, Nolte is head of a post world war 2 Los Angeles police division assigned the task of keeping organized crime out of the city of Angels. Given cart blanch by their superiors Hoover's crew often resort to brutal even murderous means in carrying out their duty. Their favorite disposal site for human garbage is Mulholland Falls; a rocky cliff nestled in the hollywood hills.

One day the squad investigates the death of a young woman found in the nearby desert. To Hoover's horror he discovers the body to be that of Allison Pond, (Connelly), a pretty prostitute who was his former mistress.

Finding no clues on the murder site Hoover checks out Allison's apartment. While there Hoover realizes the apartment is the site of sex film anonymously sent to him days before. Hoover quickly discovers the films origin point in a neighboring apartment. He then just as quickly makes contact with the individual who took the films. Said person was secertly taking the movies to blackmail some of Allison's more influential clients including Hoover himself. Unfortunately, for Hoover the films are stolen before he can take them into custody.

Later, when Hoover begins zeroing in on one of Allison's especially influential clients as a possible suspect in her killing he is pressured by everyone from the FBI to his superiors to backoff. He refuses but soon has second thoughts when a mysterious source threatens to use the missing film to reveal his affair to his wife.

As previously stated Nolte's protrayal is top notch but he is not alone. Several solid supporting performances including Griffith, Connelly, Bruce Dern and Chazz Palmeterri lend quality to the proceedings.
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The Untouchables go to Chinatown...
mhoney-118 March 2004
Warning: Spoilers
...Or at least that's kind of what this movie reminds me of in only the most basic ways. This film is okay, with good performances and a mildly-engaging plot, but the finale is kind of lackluster. Mulholland Falls is where the elite L.A. Hat Squad takes unwanteds to teach them a lesson. Nick Nolte is the world-weary boss. This is not one of his best performances, and he seems to overact just a little bit. Chazz Palminteri is his best friend, a short-tempered member going to sessions with a psychiatrist to help deal with his anger. Meanwhile, Chris Penn and Michael Madsen have little to do, though a scene where Madsen tries to pick the lock on a gate to a military base rather than have Penn blow it off is a funny bit.

They are trying to figure out how a girl found out in the desert was killed. Apparently impact with the ground did it. She was Nolte's mistress for six months during his marriage to Melanie Griffith. The trail leads to Gen. Thomas Timms (John Malkovich) who also knew the girl as his mistress. Malkovich turns in another good supporting role as a cancerous military man. Treat Williams, one of the officers and the real bad guy, turns in a fairly mediocre job.

All in all the movie falls short, but it does include some nice uncredited turns by Bruce Dern as the Chief of Police, and Rob Lowe and "CSI"'s William Petersen as a couple of hoods. (The latter of which is taken to the title location)
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Decent Film Noir Attempt From Lee Tomahori..
witster1820 November 2011
This film looks fantastic and is chock-full of great actors(Nick Nolte, Melanie Griffith, Chris Penn, Bruce Dern, John Malkovich, Chazz Palminteri, and more).

A low-brow Chinatown. The 'look' of this film, and Nick Nolte's performance are the only things that are even close to the level of that earlier, finer work.

However, this is well worth a view - especially if you are looking for a throwback escape from all the new release trash that's out there today.

Sidenote: Jennifer Connelly's breasts should be the standard of perfection.

Some of the fine actors have to take a backseat because there are just so many involved here. Nolte, however, is the star of this show, and his performance is definitely noteworthy.

It's Nick's performance, and Tomahori's attention to graphic detail that make this film above average. The plot is an atomic bomb.

You'll like this if you liked: Black Dahlia, L.A. Confidential(note: this movie is nowhere near that level), Miller's Crossing and Basic Instinct.

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This isn't America, Jack. This is L.A.
lastliberal20 September 2008
Nick Nolte, Chazz Palminteri, Michael Madsen, and Chris Penn make up the notorious "Hat Squad," that will stop at nothing to rid L.A. of criminals.

This neo-noir film brings back the look and feel of 1950s L.A. and unfortunately was not to receive the acclaim that was given to the similar L.A. Confidential one year later. That is a shame as it is almost as good.

Jennifer Connelly is at the center of things as she is found dead and just happens to be Nolte's mistress from the past. A black and white film is found with her and the head of the A.E.C., General Timms (John Malkovich). I can assure you that Connelly looks as good in black and white as she does in color.

Treat Williams is the bad guy here as he tries to protect the general and the secret they share in the desert.

Good stuff.
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Rambles off in strange direction...
jmorrison-25 July 2005
Decent enough movie, with decent performances. Nolte is very good as the leader of an elite, slightly secret police squad dedicated to battling organized crime in 1940's Los Angeles. If the movie had developed something along this line, this may very well have been a terrific movie. This may have allowed the terrific actors who made up Nolte's squad to be developed better (played by Michael Madsen, Chris Penn, Chazz Palmintieri).

However, this movie inexplicably goes off into a plot of murder, sexual intrigue, politics, corruption, military cover-up and the Atomic Energy Commission! What!? The movie seemed to meander so much, and the plot reached a point of ridiculousness. It's unfortunate because this had real possibilities, and Nolte was just superb. There are brief scenes in which we see the squad do what they do best - deal with gangsters trying to gain a foothold in L.A. The look and atmosphere were right on, and there was certainly a solid cast on hand to make this work. Unfortunately, the ridiculous plot made this difficult to accept.

At one point in the film, a military officer sends Nolte's wife a film of Nolte making love to another woman, as a way of blackmailing him. Nolte comes home to see his unsuspecting wife watching this film of him with another woman. The stunned humiliation is played out very well by Nolte and Melanie Griffith. You can see and feel the revulsion that Nolte's character feels, as he tries to answer for what is playing out on the film screen.

Brief pieces of good acting and atmosphere, ruined by a plot with too much stuffed into it. It just reached too far...for what?
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Mannequin doll in noir clothes
chaos-rampant1 May 2016
I saw this together with Devil in a Blue Dress for a night of surveying how noir - the first modern genre - has evolved as our modern world has. And what a world of difference they make.

Both are set in the 40s and minutely try to recreate the era. Both are about women who have disappeared (here she turns up dead), a set of incriminating images and conspiracy that goes all the way up. Both derive from The Big Sleep, this one via Chinatown.

But Devil felt alive, it had a measure of real desperation, urgency in the noir, a sense of place that lingered and enveloped. There was a very cogent reason for it to be set in a time of rampant discrimination against black people.

This, it's not even noir, merely set in a time of noir movies. They put the same hats that people in film noir movies used to wear, the Buicks they drove, the same shiny recreation of an era as LA Confidential, but it's dead, has no pulse, and to treat noir like a period piece when it was a modern thing in its time (those were just the hats people wore) is to suck all its life away and leave us with a mannequin doll propped up on a stage.

You'll know it by looking at the plot of passionate lovemaking that the head cop recalls, which is the defining moment in noir, the narrator succumbing to desire that sucks him into a devious story, captured as in Big Sleep by a hidden camera. Had he not had fallen for her, she would have been just another body when found, he would never have entered the story. But it's like a cardboard box painted like an engine, it just looks the part.

No, it's simply a style that is being regurgitated here with no understanding by actors wearing noir clothes. Badly written and a TV-level of imagination to boot, as close to the noir world as a James Bond spoof is to the world of spying.

Noir Meter: 1/4
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There ain't no falls in L.A.
hitchcockthelegend25 August 2013
Mulholland Falls is directed by Lee Tamahori and written by Pete Dexter. It stars Nick Nolte, Chazz Palminteri, Melanie Griffith, Michael Madsen, Chris Penn, Jennifer Connelly, Treat Williams, John Malkovich, Bruce Dern and Andrew McCarthy. Music is by Dave Grusin and cinematography by Haskell Wexler.

1950s Los Angeles and four unorthodox detectives led by Maxwell Hoover (Nolte) are called in to investigate the death of a young woman found crushed at a construction site. The woman is revealed to be an aspiring actress who had recently had a relationship with the married Hoover. Can is open, and worms everywhere, and following those worms leads Hoover down murky avenues...

It's the almost nearly great neo-noir movie, everything looks right in principal, it has a strongly assembled cast, the 50s visuals and cinematography are splendid, and the murder mystery element of the plot - with some added sex, sizzle and nuclear shenanigans - looks promising on the page. Yet it never delivers on that promise of being something dark, to be a labyrinthine noir thriller beating a black heart.

It starts of so well, based on the infamous "Hat Squad" we reasonably expect the story to expand upon the opening macho machinations of the four tough hombres in the hats, but instead away from Nolte's grizzled Hoover, the other three guys are merely dressed up props. Which means there's some good actors wasted, sadly.

As the plot moves slowly forward the investigation and Hoover character axis becomes less interesting. Griffith came in for some critical grief for a lacklustre performance, but she's done no favours by the writers who fail to give her marriage to Hoover any substance. So when things go pear shaped and the characters of Mr and Mrs Hoover should explode on the screen, we really don't care having had no interest previously to hang our emotional being on.

It all builds to what can best be described as a poor pay off, the resolution to the hinted at muddy mystery is hardly shocking, and the "big" face-off sequence between good and bad guys (or bad and bad if you prefer) is about as exciting as watching paint dry. It's not an awful movie, but it is a very disappointing one. A film where a bit more thought given by the producers could have yielded so much more. 5/10
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Justice and Jennifer
bill-9879 January 2006
In a society built on the rule of law such as ours, we are constantly shown examples of evildoers who beat the system and continue to prey on the rest of us. They use the law to their advantage and dishearten most of those who go through life playing by the rules. A convicted rapist who breaks into a woman's house can sue her if he sustains an injury slipping on an errant throw-rug on his way to her bedroom.

Mulholland Falls is about four Los Angeles cops who constitute a special task force whose mission is the dispensation of justice regardless of whether that dispensation runs counter to the law. Mob types, pedophiles, and murderers beware, this L. A. isn't your kinda town! The excellent cast extends far beyond the principal actors down to a wonderful uncredited minor role played by Academy Award winning Louise Fletcher as a sardonic staff member at LAPD headquarters. Chaz Palminteri is simply superb as Nick Nolte's loyal and devoted side kick on the force. John Malkovich delivers his usual strong performance as the terminally ill Chairman of the AEC. Treat Williams is the perfect zealot in charge of base security for the Army,

and Jennifer be here!

Jennifer Connelly consistently belies the oft-held misconception that extraordinary beauty and profound talent must be mutually exclusive. Her portrayal as the party girl victim combines gut wrenching eye candy with a typically powerful and sensitive performance which ranks up there with 'Requiem for a Dream' and 'Beautiful Mind'.
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Unfortunately disappointing.
lewiskendell27 April 2010
This movie needed more Jennifer Connelly, and it needed to be in black and white. I'm sorry, but noir never really works for me unless it's steeped in shadows and a colorless world. That's just what I've been conditioned to expect from a good noir movie. If Mulholland Falls would have been set in the modern day, I think that the color wouldn't have bothered me as much, but the combination of the time period and the style makes the colorization just to much for me to tolerate.

As for Jennifer, she's the crux of the film, but we don't get to spend very much time at all with her. We don't get a sense of who she is and why she did the things that she did, and that greatly lessens the impact of her death. If you don't care about the core of the story, then it's difficult to have any real investment in the rest of the movie.

In all honesty, even if the movie was in black and white and Jennifer Connelly had two times more scenes, this movie would probably still be boring. I just never cared or was interested in what was going on. Michael Madsen was wasted, there wasn't nearly enough of John Malkovich, and Nick Nolte was just smacking people and looking grim. Mulholland Falls gets two stars for Jennifer Connelly's magnificence, but even her wonders barely made it worth watching.
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You can't go wrong with Nick Nolte playing a 1950's L.A. detective
Ed-Shullivan5 December 2020
Nick Nolte, Chazz Palminteri, Michael Madsen, and the late Chris Penn play a team of crime fighting L.A. detectives who played their roles more like the Four Musketeers with Nick Nolte playing Detective Max Hoover as their Robin Hood leader. There is a great rough and tumble scene that takes place in the first few minutes of this film noir in which the four detectives barge into a swanky hotel restaurant and regardless of any civil consequences yank the smart aleck Jack Flynn, Mafia Mobster (William Petersen) right from the table he is partying at and take the mobster Jack up to Mulholland Drive which they laughingly refer to as Mulholland Falls for obvious reasons and give a warning to the smart lipped mobster Jack that the city of L.A. is their turf and Chicago mobsters are not welcomed in L.A..

I have always enjoyed these circa 1950's crime/mystery films with the pristine 1950's period cars and wardrobes. It is a period in our history that we tend to forget about and I wish more crime/mystery films were produced as well as Mulholland Falls was. This film has a fantastic A-lister ensemble cast and a great mystery that unfolds not without a lot of blood and sex poring out of almost every scene. Detective Max Hoover discovers a beautiful dead woman's body with massive and unexplained damage to the body and when they turn the ladies body over to see her face Max realizes it is a woman he knew quite well so now there is a personal reason for Max and his team to want to find the killer(s).

I have watched it a couple of times now, I own the film, and I am sure to watch it again at a later date as it is a great crime/mystery 1950's circa film that was exceptional. I give it a praiseworthy 9 out of 10 IMDB rating.
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great visuals
rem-flyer27 May 2000
This film has an excellent eye appeal due mostly to the efforts of Haskell Wexler (cinematographer). See more of his work in "Matewan","Bound For Glory" and "The Secret of Roan Inish".

Nick Nolte, one of America's best actors, gives us one of Film's best visual performances. Watch closely the scene in the cemetary with Melanie Griffith as Nolte,without words,displays a man who has lost the one thing that makes him love.
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What a Surprise!
jn1356-18 August 2009
An amazing morality tale! An elite squad or cops, with a license to kill, instructed to keep the city cleaned up, encounters a federal agencies, acting as if they had a license to kill.

Watching the period costumes actually gave me a nostalgia for the time. I think we've lost something of style and class since men don't wear coats, ties, and hats everywhere. Watching the characterizations made me nostalgic for the one-dimensional police we used to see in TV and movies.

But wait! What if the hero has feet of clay? What if he has slept around on his wife and there is movie footage of it? What if his ex-girlfriend turns up dead?

Most important, who is the good guy in this movie? What if there isn't one? What if they're ALL bad guys? What if some of the bad guys just arouse more of our sympathy than others? I'm amazed there weren't a few award nominations for this movie. Not the greatest, but powerful, thought-provoking, well thought out, well written, well done!
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