L.A. Confidential (1997)

la confidential

“To the solving of crimes that require absolute justice.”

The Scoop: 1997 R, directed by Curtis Hanson and starring Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, and James Cromwell

Tagline: Off the record, on the QT, and very hush-hush…

Summary Capsule: Three cops — good cop, bad cop, and who-cares-I’m-on-TV cop — take on a closed case and save the world. Well, sort of.

Lissa’s rating: Nothing should be hush-hush about this one

Lissa’s review: The men in my life all have one thing in common: They LOVE gadgets. Put something with a remote in front of them, and I swear they’ll start drooling. This does not just apply to my husband, but to my stepfather, my brothers-in-law, my father-in-law, and my sister’s boyfriend. However, I must admit that my husband and my stepfather are the worst of them. Now add a really big screen, a PlayStation 2, and a DVD player into the mix, and it’s amazing we don’t need a crowbar to get my stepfather out of the family room.

My parents came down to visit this past weekend, and true to form we watched some movies at night. On Friday night my mom and I gave our lovely gentlemen two choices: Love Actually and Bridget Jones’s Diary. As they refused to make a decision and my parents didn’t need to see Duckie drool over Rene, I popped in Love Actually. My stepfather watched silently, and then at the end declared that I had lost all movie-picking privileges for the weekend. On Saturday, in an attempt to get revenge, he picked L.A. Confidential. Let me say this: Bill, you failed miserably.

For some insane reason, L.A. Confidential is in our collection, but neither Duckie nor I had seen it. Yes, this is possible, especially when you buy movies over eBay and someone tosses it into a deal. How we had gone so long without watching what was unquestionably a brilliant movie that was sitting RIGHT THERE is beyond me. It’s just criminal. Fortunately, the situation has been remedied.

L.A. Confidential is a cop drama (a genre I absolutely ADORE (sense the sarcasm?)) focused on three cops in particular: Bud White (Russell Crowe), Ed Exley (Guy Pearce), and Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey). Okay, with those three names right there you KNOW this is gonna be well-acted. The three are completely different from each other: Bud is righteous but violent, Ed is by the book but political, and Jack is likable but susceptible to blackmail. For separate reasons, all three of them find themselves trying to untangle the same case, long after it’s been closed.

I didn’t consider L.A. Confidential much of a mystery, given that I guessed who was behind the whole shenanigans at the beginning. It wasn’t really obvious, I’m just cynical. But what wasn’t predictable was the twists and turns that the plot took, and how you got to that ending. I don’t want to say much more about the plot, but the main plot and the character studies of the three officers are extremely well done.

The acting is utterly amazing, and why this didn’t earn more nominations is beyond me. Ironically, I thought the person who DID take home an Oscar gave the weakest performance. Kim Basinger is totally flat in this, but then I’ve never been able to really stand her anyway. As far as I’m concerned her best moment comes years later in The Simpsons, when she tells her Baldwin husband that when HE wins an Oscar, he can do what he wants to take care of it. And I don’t think she’s all that attractive, either. Kevin Spacey and Guy Pearce should have been showered with awards for this one, and even Russell Crowe did a really good turn. (I don’t like him much, either.) Danny DeVito is also perfectly cast as a sleazy reporter who really loves his job.

At this point you’ve seen enough of my reviews to know where my tastes lie. I like princesses, musicals, and feel-good dramas. I’m not an action person unless swords are involved, and crime thrillers usually hold as much interest for me as income tax forms. Plus I cover my eyes whenever blood is on the screen. So if I say a movie like L.A. Confidential is good, then you know it’s absolutely phenomenal and if for some reason you haven’t seen this yet, you should be headed to Hollywood Video right now.

And to my stepfather: feel free to pick movies like this any time!

Stop! Or my mom who looks like an ugly man will shoot!
Stop! Or my mom who looks like an ugly man will shoot!


  • 45 different shooting locations were used.
  • Both Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce are Australian. Hanson specifically chose lesser known actors to play these roles while filling the role of James Vincennes, the celebrity cop, with a well-known star, Kevin Spacey.
  • David Strathairn plays a character named Pierce Morehouse Patchett. His initials would then be PMP, which (according to IMDb — I always thought there was an “I” in it) spells “pimp”, which is what Pierce Patchett was.
  • Wearing glasses won’t get you far in the LAPD.
  • How amazingly short Danny DeVito looks next to Kevin Spacey?
  • That aside from the hair, Kim Basinger doesn’t really look that much like Veronica Lake? (At least, I didn’t think so.)
  • Is It Worth Staying Through End Credits? Yes, there’s a couple scenes and footage played over and after the end credits.

Groovy Quotes

Hudgeons: Remember, dear readers, you heard it here first, off the record, on the Q.T. and very Hush-Hush.

Hudgeons: It’s Christmas morning in the City of Angels, and while decent citizens sleep the sleep of the righteous, hopheads prowl for marijuana, not knowing that a man is coming to stop them. The free wheeling, big-time Big V, celebrity crime-stopper, Jack Vincennes, the scourge of grasshoppers and junk fiends everywhere. You like it, Jackie-Boy?
Jack: Yeah, it’s subtle.

Exley: To the solving of crimes that require absolute justice.

Stensland: We’ll do the town one night on me.
White: I’ll bring my wallet just in case.

Vincennes: Oh, great. You get the girl, I get the coroner.

White: The Night Owl case made you. Do you want to tear all that down?
Exley: With a wrecking ball. You want to help me swing it?

Lynn: Some men get the world. Others get ex-hookers and a trip to Arizona.

If you liked this movie, try these:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s