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Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Kim Basinger. Three cops. A call girl...a mysterious millionaire. Set against the backdrop of the glitz, glamour, grit and noir of early '50s L.A., the plot coils through corruption, sex, lies and murder following an incident at a coffee shop. But that's just the beginning! Based on the crime fiction novel by James Ellroy. 2 Discs. 1997/color/138 min/R.
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The personification of evil in this movie is played by James Cromwell as a veteran police officer who has gotten to the top ranks by hook and crook. He will do anything to protect his turf, including murdering a fellow officer in cold blood.
This movie builds to a violent climax and each step towards that conclusion is realistic and nuanced. The movie is based on a novel by James McElroy. L. A. Confidential, is in my opinion, one of the finest movies made in the last thirty years. It faithfully evokes the period, the early fifties and the place. Most of the fine ensemble cast have no scruples.
Russell's character. Bud White, grows the most throughout the movie, moving from a muscle guyM a direct applier of justice, who has a thing for protecting abused women and becomes an accomplished detective. Kevin Spacey's character, Jack V. seems to be based on Jack Webb's Dragnet (A TV show from the 50's) who also rediscovers why he became a cop.
Edmund Exley's character also discovers what being a policeman is about. He moves from being a by-the-rules officer to finally understanding that sometimes direct applications of justice are the only way that some criminals will receive the punishment they have due them.
All in all a great movie, filled with twists, and interesting characters.
If you like the movie, I suggest you read the book. I have done both, and I think the movie clears up some of my confusion from the book, while the book defines the characters and helps explain the final scenes of the movie.