Monday, July 30, 2012

L.A. CONFIDENTIAL (1997) - Curtis Hanson

Like many people, L.A. Confidential, the movie, was my first introduction to James Ellroy's Los Angeles, a corrupt, status obsessed and racially volatile cesspool of a place. I began gorging on his other multi-character epic novels soon after. American Tabloid, The Cold Six Thousand, The Black Dahlia to name a few. I've seen the "Demon Dog" speak at bookstores and conferences a number of times and enjoy his colorful DVD commentaries. I've faithfully attended lesser movies that had his name stamped somewhere in the writing credits (Dark Blue, Street Kings, Rampart). I guess you could call Curtis Hanson's film my gateway drug to Ellroy. It's also the one that, to this day, still gets Ellroy the most right.

Fifteen years later, the entrenched institutional corruption of the LAPD depicted in Confidential still registers as shocking and endemic. The differences in the Bud White and Ed Exley's style of police work are still compelling. Whoever thought casting two relatively unknown Aussies in two thoroughly American leading roles would ever work? Cheers to Hanson and Hollywood for taking the big gamble on this one way back when. If only that titular town would do it more often these days.

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