LA Confidential (film)

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German title LA Confidential
Original title LA Confidential
LA Confidential Logo.png
Country of production United States
original language English
Publishing year 1997
length 132 minutes
Age rating FSK 16
Director Curtis Hanson
script Brian Helgeland ,
Curtis Hanson ,
novel : James Ellroy
production Arnon Milchan ,
Curtis Hanson ,
Michael G. Nathanson , New Regency
music Jerry Goldsmith
camera Dante Spinotti
cut Peter Honess

LA Confidential is an American neo-noir - feature film directed by Curtis Hanson from the year 1997 , the on James Ellroy's complex Roman city of the Devil is based. The drama is also assigned to the crime or gangster film .


Los Angeles , 1953: Mickey Cohen , the most feared gangster boss in Hollywood , is jailed for tax evasion. Cohen's former henchmen and criminals from across the country are trying to succeed him and make the big drug business. In the process, a mysterious underworld boss clears them out of the way in rows.

When six people, including a policeman, are found dead in the men's bathroom of the café The Nite Owl in Hollywood, three LAPD investigators , who couldn't be more different, set out to solve the murder: Detective Lieutenant Ed Exley is ambitious and high-ranking morally driven by good police work and wants to quickly inherit his highly decorated father, who was killed by an unknown murderer, in the Los Angeles Police Department.

Sergeant Jack Vincennes, who is addicted to status, improves his salary as a technical advisor for the police television series Badge of Honor and a secret informant for the scandal magazine Hush-Hush , while the impulsive officer Wendell “Bud” White sees violent husbands red. The cop killed at the Nite Owl was his partner.

The investigations into the case, which is known as the Nite Owl massacre across the country, are initially successful: three black, young junkies are identified as suspects and are heavily burdened with circumstantial evidence. After a successful attempt to escape from the police station, they are caught by Ed Exley and shot. For this he receives the Medal of Valor . The case is apparently solved.

Over time, however, first Bud White and a little later Ed Exley began to doubt the guilt of the three teenagers. Both initially determine the case again without the knowledge of the other. After Ed Exley learns that Bud White, like himself, is conducting further investigations, he persuades Jack Vincennes to support him.

In their research, Exley and Vincennes dig deeper and deeper into the cauldron of Los Angeles, a swamp of murder, drugs and corruption, in which they meet the opaque businessman Pierce Patchett, who holds a call girl ring with doppelgangers of well-known Hollywood actresses operates, including the Veronica Lake double Lynn Bracken.

The not so primitive White is always one step ahead of them. Like him before, they find the hidden body of a former police officer. They quickly realize that it's not just Patchett who is behind it, but also people from their own ranks.

When Vincennes tries to get information about the dead police officer from police chief Dudley Smith, he is shot by him. A comment from Smith picks up Exley and determines that the two police officers killed and Smith had previously made common cause. He realizes that Smith was trying to pull the cord together with Pierce Patchett to gain control of the entire underworld.

Lynn Bracken, who is now in a relationship with White, befriends Exley because she fears he could interfere with Bud. However, Bud White learns of this through an intrigue constructed by Smith, in which Sid Hudgens, the windy editor of the scandal magazine Hush-Hush , is involved. Then Hudgens is liquidated by Smith.

In his anger, Bud White confronts his competitor Exley. Both fight extensively; Exley can finally convince White of his thesis and they begin to work together to clear up what happened.

Both are lured into a trap by fictitious radio messages, but come out of the showdown as heroes . White saves Exley's life, but is badly wounded in the process. Exley, realizing Smith's guilt, shot Captain Dudley Smith in the back in vigilante justice, disregarding his own morals, when it became apparent that he could get out of it. In order not to bring the police into disrepute for years, the scandal surrounding Smith is not exposed. So he is portrayed as a hero in the newspaper alongside Exley, who receives his second medal of merit.

Ed Exley receives public recognition: he emerges as a hero from the case, Bud White, whose recovery remains in doubt, receives the desirable wife and returns with Lynn Bracken to her hometown of Bisbee, Arizona .

History of origin

James Ellroy had started his so-called LA Quartet in 1987 with the novel The Black Dahlia , which was only made into a film in 2006. The third part of the tetralogy about Hollywood of the 1940s and 1950s, City of Devils , was filmed in 1997 by Curtis Hanson under the title LA Confidential with great commercial and artistic success . The film adaptation of James Ellroy's complex novel was a long-cherished dream project by director Curtis Hanson, who had previously attracted attention with his thrillers The Hand on the Cradle (1992) and On the Wild River (1993). As a co-producer, Hanson was granted the privilege of freely filming LA Confidential according to his own ideas, with no special requirements or the obligation of mandatory stars. "Up until now, I had no freedom to cast the films the way I wanted, I had to cut scenes, use different music, watch marketing people sell the film wrong," says Hanson. Lead actor Russell Crowe was selected for his acting performance in the Australian drama Romper Stomper (1992). Both the New Zealander Crowe and the Australian Guy Pearce were hired against the objections of the film studio Warner Bros. , which had favored American actors for the casting of a Californian custom painting of the 1950s.


The film received mostly positive reviews. Rotten Tomatoes scored 110 positive and 1 negative reviews. Metacritic counted 27 positive, 1 mixed and no negative publications. On the Internet Movie Database page, the weighted average score 8.2 out of 10 was determined from 516,422 users.

  • "LA CONFIDENTIAL, a unique and breathtaking declaration of love to the classic film noir ... (he) is not only worthy of Ellroy's best novels, but also of his predecessors Ross MacDonald , Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler ." Hans Gerhold: In the heart of the lie , P. 379
  • “A congenial film adaptation of the crime novel by James Ellroy, set in Los Angeles in the early 50s, the last heyday of old Hollywood, but also a cauldron of corruption, drug trafficking, media clash and prostitution. The staging and thematically impressive film plunges headlong into a chaos of violence and human depravity, whereby its colloquial coloring corresponds adequately to the narrative and thematic design. ”( Lexicon of the international film )
  • “Far removed from mainstream conventions, with a watchful eye on the tone, style, characterization and equipment of the cinema of the fifties, Curtis Hanson creates a complex picture of post-war LA, which was ravaged by corruption and murder director an exciting-exciting neo-noir - Puzzle . "( Focus on film )
  • "The birth of a classic!" ( TV feature film )
  • "Sounds exhausting, but it has its entertaining component." ( Artechock )
  • "Complicated, but not confusing [...] as a reminder of the joys of really attractive narration in the old Hollywood style." ( Variety )
  • "Immersed in the atmosphere and the sagas of film noir [...] and takes these values ​​seriously [...] the twists and turns are so clear because the characters are sharply contoured" ( Roger Ebert )
  • "The cinema audience today is so useless that the triumph of decency and morality in LA Confidential will appear to some cinema-goers to be too conventional." ( Andrew Sarris )
  • “Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe and Kim Basinger are ideally cast and play breathtakingly. Conclusion: The West Coast juggernaut has not had such a devilish pull since Chinatown . "( TV Today )


Originally, the ex- Bond girl Izabella Scorupco was intended for the role of Lynn Bracken , but she turned down the role.

The composer Elmer Bernstein was originally intended to create the film music, but he was later replaced by his colleague Jerry Goldsmith .

2003 LA Confidential was to be filmed for television by the TV station HBO with Kiefer Sutherland in the role of Jack Vincennes . Of the planned thirteen-part series, only the pilot film, which was never broadcast on television, was realized.

The fictional character of Jack Vincennes is modeled after Detective Sergeant Martin "Marty" Wynn , a highly decorated LAPD officer who served the Civil Affairs, Homicide and Intelligence Division at the city's most dangerous police stations: 77th Street, Rampart, Southwest, Wilshire, Hollywood and North Hollywood . He was a technical advisor to the film Steps in the Night and met Jack Webb on the set. Wynn suggested that Webb produce a realistic crime series about police work in Los Angeles. A few months later the idea for a police report arose . Wynn became the show's technical advisor.

Mickey Cohen was actually a Los Angeles mobster in the 1950s who was sentenced to four years in prison in 1952 for tax evasion. The person of Johnny Stompanato - Cohen's bodyguard - and his relationship with Lana Turner are also true.

James Ellroy noted in the audio commentary on the DVD Rushed by the Police ( Crime Wave ) that Sterling Hayden, in the role of Detective Sims, served as a template for Bud White. Russell Crowe was preparing for the role by Sterling Hayden's representation of the professional criminal Johnny Clay in which he is Stanley Kubrick film was The bill is not on ( The Killing sought inspiration).

The German voices are partly cast contrary to the standard voices. Russell Crowe does not yet have his standard dubbing voice Thomas Fritsch , he is voiced by Tobias Meister in this film , but who mainly lends his voice to Brad Pitt . Danny de Vito is spoken here by Klaus Jepsen , contrary to his current standard voice, Klaus Sonnenschein .

During the end credits, a scene is faded in in which the actor William Boyd, who died in 1972, leads a parade in his cowboy role as Hopalong Cassidy . Recordings of characters from the film were subsequently inserted into Boyd's archive recordings, so that it appears as if they were taking part in the parade together.


In 1998, LA Confidential was one of the Oscar favorites with nine nominations , but lost out to James Cameron's mammoth Titanic project . Even so, the film won two Academy Awards, including Kim Basinger , who won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her portrait of a noble prostitute, and the award for Best Adapted Screenplay by Curtis Hanson and Brian Helgeland .

Oscar 1998

  • Best Supporting Actress ( Kim Basinger )
  • Best adapted script

Nominated in the categories

  • Best movie
  • Best director
  • Best tone
  • Best music
  • Best cut
  • Best camera
  • Best equipment

British Academy Film Award 1998

  • Best cut
  • Best tone

Nominated in the categories

  • Best movie
  • Best director
  • Best Actor ( Kevin Spacey )
  • Best Actress ( Kim Basinger )
  • Best adapted script
  • Best music
  • Best camera
  • Best equipment
  • Best costumes
  • Best make-up / hair styling

Golden Globe Awards 1998

Nominated in the categories

  • Best Film (Drama)
  • Best director
  • Best script
  • Best film score


International Cannes Film Festival 1997

  • nominated for the Palme d'Or for best film

Bodil 1998

  • Best American Film

Chicago Film Critics Association Award 1998

Directors Guild of America Award 1998

  • nominated for best director

Edgar Allan Poe Awards 1998

  • Best movie

Empire Awards 1998

Golden Satellite Awards 1998

  • Best script

Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards 1997

  • Best movie
  • Best director
  • Best script
  • Best camera

National Board of Review Awards 1997

  • Best movie
  • Best director

National Society of Film Critics Awards 1998

  • Best movie
  • Best director
  • Best script

New York Film Critics Circle Awards 1997

  • Best movie
  • Best director
  • Best script

Online Film Critics Society Awards 1998

  • Best movie
  • Best script

Screen Actors Guild Awards 1998

The German Film and Media Evaluation FBW in Wiesbaden awarded the film the title valuable.


  • James Ellroy: LA Confidential, City of Devils , 2003 Ullstein Tb, ISBN 3548256724
  • James Ellroy: LA Confidential , 1999 Longman, ISBN 0582364736 (English edition)
  • Helgeland, Brian; Hanson, Curtis; Ellroy, James: LA confidential: the screenplay . New York: Warner Books, 1997. ISBN 0446674273 (English edition)
  • Hans Gerhold: In the heart of the lie: The American film noir in the 90s , in: Martin Compart (ed.): Noir 2000. Ein Reader , Cologne 2000 (DuMont Buchverlag), p. 350–383, here p. 379 . ISBN 3-7701-5018-X

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Certificate of Release for LA Confidential . Voluntary self-regulation of the film industry (PDF). Template: FSK / maintenance / type not set and Par. 1 longer than 4 characters
  2. LA Confidential on , accessed June 4, 2020
  3. LA Confidential on , accessed June 4, 2020
  4. LA Confidential on , accessed June 4, 2020
  5. ^ LA Confidential. In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed March 2, 2017 .Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used 
  6. Borissa Hellmann: LA Confidential. In: Artechock. Retrieved October 16, 2008 .
  7. ^ Todd McCarthy: LA Confidential. (No longer available online.) In: Variety . May 25, 1997, archived from the original on December 4, 2008 ; accessed on October 16, 2008 (English): "complicated but not confusing [...] an [...] reminder of the pleasures of deeply involving narratives in the old Hollywood sense" Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  8. ^ Roger Ebert : LA Confidential. In: . September 19, 1997, accessed on October 16, 2008 (English): "immersed in the atmosphere and lore of film noir, [...] it believes its noir values ​​[...] the twists are always clear because the characters are so sharply drawn"
  9. Andrew Sarris : Confidentially Speaking, Noir's Gone Hollywood. In: The New York Observer . September 28, 1997, accessed on October 16, 2008 : "Indeed, there is so much malaise in movie audiences these days that the triumph of decency and morality in LA Confidential may strike some moviegoers as too conventional"