L.A. Confidential (1997)

la confidential poster 1997 movie
10 Overall Score
Story: 10/10
Acting : 10/10
Visuals: 10/10

One of the best films of the 1990s


Movie Info

Movie Name: L.A. Confidential

Studio:  New Regency Productions

Genre(s): Drama/Mystery/Suspense

Release Date(s):  May 14, 1997 (Cannes)/September 19, 1997 (US)/October 31, 1997 (UK)

MPAA Rating: R

la confidential kim basinger veronica lake

Cut like Veronica Lake

When Mickey Cohen (Paul Guilfoyle) goes down, a power void is left the Los Angeles underworld…and someone is determined to take it.  Sergeant Ed Exley (Guy Pearce) has high hopes in the department and sees the recent crime wave as a means to get ahead.  Sergeant Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey) realizes that crime pays and that his connections can get him extra money and publicity while working with Hush-Hush publisher Sid Hudgens (Danny DeVito) and the popular TV series Badge of Honor.  Officer Bud White (Russell Crowe) finds himself at home as “muscle” and as someone who isn’t afraid to break some rules to get an arrest.  All three find themselves unexpectedly linked through a series of events involving a pornographer and high class pimp named Pierce Pratchett (David Strathairn) and his prostitutes which include a Veronica Lake lookalike named Lynn Bracken (Kim Basinger).  Who is pulling the strings in L.A. and can they find out before their numbers are up?

la confidential kevin spacey dannny devito

You got to play the game and have an angle

Directed by Curtis Hanson, L.A. Confidential is a noir crime thriller.  Based upon James Ellroy’s 1990 novel, L.A. Confidential premiered at Cannes and was released to positive reviews.  The film won Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actress (Basinger) and Best Adapted Screenplay with nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Best Sound, Best Film Editing, and Best Original Score.  It was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2015.

L.A. Confidential holds a place as an “England” movie for me.  I saw it there while on an exchange program and visiting a friend in Oxford, and the memory alone boosts the film.  L.A. Confidential needed no boost however…it is one of the best films of the 1990s.

la confidential guy pearce

I’m a social climber

The movie (like a lot of crime movies) is aided by multiple viewing.  The story is dense and full of names, but it isn’t impossible to grasp on a viewing…multiple viewings just enrich it.  It is rather tightly woven and incorporates real L.A. history along with a great gangster story.  It does this by having three very different leads who all end up at the same location through different means and uneasy alliances.

The cast is at the top of their game.  The movie was obviously before Kevin Spacey was kryptonite and he has that suave and kind of prissy attitude that his character needs.  Guy Pearce likewise plays the goody-two-shoes, but the type of guy who has aspiration lurking behind every action.  Russell Crowe is possibly the best as the fury.  He’s a simmering anger and he goes off without always thinking, but generally he has good intentions despite his actions.  Kim Basinger steals all her scenes as the hypnotic Lynn Bracken who is just trying to survive in a high stakes game.  You also have nice turns by Danny DeVito, Ron Rifkin, David Strathairn, Simon Baker, and James Cromwell…all of them sleazy.

la confidential bud white russell crowe

Bud White: Protector of Women

The movie also is a blend of classic crime and classic Hollywood all set to noir thriller.  It looks great and since it is a period piece, it never really suffers from aging or a dated look.  The drama and police procedural sequences are handled smartly and the action comes off strong as well.

L.A. Confidential is a great movie.  It is fun, watchable, and the actors provide enough mystique and texture to make watching their performances fun.  The movie’s style and success influenced things like the game L.A. Noire and other L.A. based movies and shows (like the maligned season 2 of True Detective).  Los Angeles throughout the years has had an ever-changing style and L.A. Confidential catches when it was really coming into its own.  There has been talk of a sequel, but plans for a film starring Chadwick Boseman fell through with the actor’s death.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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