L.A. Confidential (1997) Poster


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  • L.A. Confidential is also a 1990 novel by American crime writer James Ellroy. L.A. Confidential is actually the third book in a series of four books called The L.A. Quartet. They are The Black Dahlia (1987), The Big Nowhere (1988), L.A. Confidential (1990), and White Jazz (1992). The Black Dahlia was the basis of the movie, The Black Dahlia (2006) (2006), and White Jazz is in development, with a release date in 2012. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • It was simple rumor and conjecture. As the story about the injured officers spread throughout the precinct, the story was exaggerated by everyone it passed through. Listen to the way Vincennes very dramatically says, "I hear Helenowski lost 6 pints of blood and Brown's in a coma!", when the suspects are brought in. Moments later another detective tells a worse tale about one man losing an eye and the other being read his last rites. Add to that the fact that the men had been drinking heavily at the Christmas party and the scene quickly turned violent, leading Stensland and a few other detectives to go on the Bloody Christmas rampage in the cell block. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • Yes, Exley (Guy Pearce) testified and Stensland was expelled from the force. That's why Stensland (Graham Beckel) knocked his box to the floor, why the other detectives sneered at him working late and groaned when he was put in charge of the interrogations. Their attitude toward him continues until he runs the interrogations of the Nite Owl suspects and proves to the veterans of the department that he's an effective police detective. He also gets a boost when he finds the three suspects after they escape confinement and kills them all—for which the now-respectful department tells him he did a good job and dubs him "Shotgun Ed". Exley also seems possessed of a personality that shelters him from their taunts, criticism, comments, etc. It would probably sustain him for a time despite being despised by the veterans but as things turn out, he becomes a hero in the department. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • The LAPD Commissioner and DA Lowe wanted to send White (Russell Crowe) down, but Captain Dudley Smith (James Cromwell) protected him at the cost of letting Stensland go. From then on, Dudley was able to coerce Bud into doing anything he wanted him to do, including beating up thugs that would come to LA looking to take over Mickey Cohen's crime territory. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • Solid police work. They escaped and he could be pretty sure they weren't stupid enough to go straight home, so he looked for possible hideouts. There's a brief scene where Exley talks to the police stenographer who took notes during the interrogation scene. She reads her notes and reveals that they'd previously gone to Roland Navarette's place for drugs, which is where Exley finds them. He had a 50:50 chance of finding them there and was lucky. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • The original plan of having Michael Breuning and William Carlisle kill them at their apartment was foiled when Vincennes and Exley showed up early. The only explanation given for their escape is someone overheard saying "How did they jump out the window anyway?", implying they were left unsupervised in a place from which they could escape. The most likely answer is that Dudley or someone in his pocket let them go so they could be hunted and killed while resisting arrest, to tie up loose ends. Later, in the records room, after Bud White confronts Exley with Sid's blackmail photo of Exley and Lynn Bracken, Exley deduces this, and experiences a wave of revulsion and guilt with the realization that Dudley set him up to be the suspects executioner -- he wanted the three black men killed because no one would ask any questions. Additionally, when Exley is walking rape victim Inez Soto out of the hospital, she admits that she lied in her statement to the police about when the suspects left her before the Nite Owl incident. Exley is also somewhat stunned to hear that another factor contributed to the case that could blow it wide open. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • Susan Lefferts' body can be seen briefly when Exley opens the restroom door at the Nite Owl massacre, where a single shotgun wound to her chest is visible. This same wound is partly visible when the sheet is pulled back at the morgue, though hard to detect due to the viewing angle and presumable cleansing of the body, so we only catch a glimpse of it. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • Neither were in on the murders. The only ones in on it were the killers—Captain Dudley Smith, Det. Michael Breuning (Tomas Arana), and Det. William Carlyle (Michael McCleery). Edit (Coming Soon)

  • Sid Hudgens (Danny DeVito) was indeed in league with Dudley Smith and Pierce Patchett (David Strathairn). His M.O. is to photograph prominent politicians while they have sex with Patchett's prostitutes (like Lynn) to blackmail them later. He even does this with Exley (whether he did this with Bud White is not known but wouldn't be beyond him.) However, what Sid does not realize (as does Patchett ultimately) is that Dudley Smith basically sees everyone as disposable. As soon as they have served his purpose he's happy to get rid of them, and he certainly does not tell anyone all of his plans. Another good example of a character that does the same thing is Jimmy Conway in Goodfellas (1990). When Jimmy and his army of cohorts pull off the Lufthansa Heist, he has them all killed so he doesn't have to pay them their shares and so none of them can be found by the police and talk. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • Sid introduces Matt Reynolds (Simon Baker) to Ellis Loew (Ron Rifkin) because he heard that Loew was a closeted homosexual (he calls Loew a "swish" a derogatory term for a gay person from the time period), and he wanted to either expose him as such in Hush-Hush or to blackmail him at a later point. Recall Sid and Patchett were involved in blackmailing celebrities, as evidenced by Jack Vincennes' statement to Dudley just before Vincennes was killed by the captain. Later at the hotel, Reynolds and Loew were surprised by Smith, who was there to strong-arm Loew into giving him help by covering up various things. Reynolds overheard, was spotted and killed, while Loew was allowed to leave alive. Listen closely to Loew's confession as Bud White is dangling Loew out of the office window. Smith most likely kept Loew alive because his corrupt nature and influence could be useful in the future and because he promised never to prosecute them for any crimes. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • They had compromising photos of the DA with Matt Reynolds and were using them to blackmail Loew. The kid went to Loew to have sex with him, so Sid had blackmail material, just like he had on the Senator who reverses his stance on a key political issue and Exley, both of whom Sid photographed having sex with Lynn Bracken. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • Exley is smart and exceptionally good at self advancement and departmental politics. He knew the situation that the department was in and he heard a snippet of their conversation when the detectives left the room. He deduced that the department was looking to sweep the incident under the rug and needed his cooperation to do.so. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • Exley was determined to root out the bad apples one by one and clean up the LAPD. If he had gone public, the police department would have closed ranks, dismissed him from the force, rubbished his claims as conspiracy theories or mud-slinging, and watched him disappear or even thrown him in jail. Also, Dudley was dead, and while it would be satisfying to drag his name through the mud and expose him for the psychotic and corrupt individual he was, Exley knew that would severely damage the LAPD's already less than stellar reputation, embarrass Dudley's family (Dudley mentioned he had a wife and daughters) and put a halt on Exley's budding career, which wouldn't do anybody any good. By staying quiet, he was able to advance further in the department and be in a position to fulfill this agenda, as evidenced by his last line, "They're using me, so for a little while I'm using them.". Edit (Coming Soon)

  • Remember that this film takes place from around December 1952 to sometime in Spring 1953, over a decade before the outcome of the 1966 Supreme Court case Miranda v. Arizona which established that suspects of crime are to be informed of their rights upon being arrested or charged lest the evidence produced from such suspects be inadmissible in court. You've likely seen other films where an officer begins with "You have the right to remain silent..." (alluding to the Fifth Amendment) and goes on to say that the suspect has the right to an attorney (alluding to the Sixth Amendment) and a phone call (as a common courtesy for way to quickly notify friends of one's status and whereabouts). Before Miranda rights were set up to protect both suspects and the police, officers were pretty much allowed to use any tactics they saw fit to get confessions, whether the confessions were true or false. Additionally, police misconduct (brutality) didn't become a major national issue again after Miranda until the Rodney King beating of 1991. There were many incidents of it all throughout history, but the King incident pushed it to the forefront. So, you have scenes of blatant misconduct like Bud putting his gun in the mouth of one of the black men or Dudley Smith taking known gangsters to the Victory Motel where they were beaten and run out of town. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • The movie is essentially a pared-down, cleaner version of the book.

    The action of the book takes place from 1950 until 1958, with the initial heroin theft occurring in 1950, Bloody Christmas in 1951, the Nite Owl Massacre in 1953, and the ultimate revelation of the true motives behind the murders in 1958. In between, each of the main characters become involved in a number of subplots, several of which tie-in to the main action of the story.

    Multiple dark, potentially off- putting elements were removed in adapting the book to the screen. Most notably, the Fleur-de-Lis pornography plays a much larger role in the book, and control over its distribution proves to be the ultimate motive behind the Nite Owl massacre. The pornography depicts not only "arty" sex scenes but also incest between a prostitute and her son, and most notably, a series of orgies which have been photo doctored so that the participants appear to have been dismembered.

    Multiple subplots are also considerably darker than what ended up in the film: one involves a case that Ed's father worked in the 1940s involving a pedophile who kidnapped and murdered children in order to create a winged "Frankenstein" child using severed bird wings. Another involves Bud White trying to capture a serial killer who beats prostitutes to death and then engages in necrophiliac sex with their corpses.

    In the novel, Ed and Jack are significantly darker than in the film: Ed Exley was a deserter during WWII, but was never caught because his entire squad died in combat and he claimed to be the sole survivor after being found. His father, Preston, is still alive and is a cop-turned-real estate mogul. It is under Preston's tutelage that Ed becomes a cruel, politically-minded police officer who only solves crimes for glory and because his father taught him the principal of "Absolute Justice," a zero-tolerance approach to law enforcement. There is no "Rollo Tomasi" story, and it is Ed's brother who was killed by a purse snatcher. Ed begins dating Inez Soto after the capture of the Night Owl Suspects, and she ultimately goes to work for his father and Raymond Dieterling, a Walt Disney pastiche whose dark past figures heavily in the novel's climax.

    Jack Vincennes is a recovering drug addict who accidentally murdered a married couple during a stakeout because he was high and mistook them for criminals he was pursuing. Over the course of the book he becomes addicted to the violent pornography he is investigating and finds himself unable to fantasize about sex without it involving multiple women and severed body parts. The only hint of this side of Vincennes' personality might be seen in the scene where he pockets the small bag of marijuana that Matt and Tammy had.

    The climax of the book are a pair of shootouts, one in a deli and one that occurs during a siege on a train transporting prisoners. Jack Vincennes is present for the latter and dies trying to help Ed and Bud prevent prisoners from escaping. The film's climactic shootout at the Victory Motel actually occurs in the book's prologue and ends with the death of Buzz Meeks; Dudley Smith actually survives the book and goes on to be the antagonist of the novel "White Jazz," which ends with Dudley being confined to a nursing home after he is attacked with an axe and rendered mentally retarded. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • Jack was put on suspension because he'd been involved in the Bloody Christmas rampage -- he hit one of the Mexican suspects when the man was thrown into him but it was more just a knee jerk reaction to being shoved and getting blood on his suit and tie. The Commissioner, Capt Smith & the DA all tell him that in exchange for testifying about the incident, he'll be given a brief suspension and a transfer from the narcotics unit to the vice unit so his image of being a popular star and cop can cool off a bit.

    However, Jack finds out it may not be a simple transfer back into Narcotics when he reports to Vice: the detective in charge of the unit tells Jack that the only way he'll get out of Vice and back to Narcotics is if he makes a major case, so it'll be a bit harder for Jack to regain his celebrity status than he figured. He does though, when he proves an instrumental lead in the Night Owl case. Edit (Coming Soon)


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