This movie from 1997 is based on the cult novel by James Ellroy, which was thought to be un-filmable. It was produced and directed by Curtis Hanson. Hanson had read half a dozen of Ellroy’s books before L.A. Confidential and was drawn to its characters, not the plot. He said: “What hooked me on them was that I didn’t like them, but as I met them, one after one, I started to care about them.” Ellroy’s novel also made Hanson think about Los Angeles and provided him with an opportunity to set a movie at a point in time when the whole dream of Los Angeles, from that apparently golden era of the ’20s and ’30s, was being bulldozed.”
We follow a group of police officers, who represent the choices ahead for the LAPD. Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey), star-struck, lives for his job as police adviser to a television show. Bud White (Russel Crowe) is an aggressive young cop who is willing to accommodate the department’s relaxed ethics. Ed Exley (Guy Pierce) is a straight arrow but will do anyhing for his own advancement. It’s a story about private and professional ethic and to what extent corruption will be tolerated. There might be small harm in free booze and a little wheeling and dealing, but there are some things a police officer cannot do and look himself in the mirror in the morning.
But it is also a film about the evolution of Los Angeles to a city of evil and glamour with a dirty little secret between every palm tree. We meet a cross section of Los Angeles population. The different social types show how crime has become a matter of economic growth, contributed to as much by the upper classes as those trapped by the cycle of poverty and crime.
“Don’t start trying to do the right thing, boy-o”, a police officer tells one of his men. “You haven’t had the practice.”
Anything else? Yes, the film is gorgeous!