L.A. Confidential Movie (1997) | Review, Cast & Plot

L.A. Confidential Movie(1997) | Review, Cast & Plot
© Warner Bros.

L.A. Confidential Movie Summary

Based on the best-selling novel by James Ellroy and directed by Curtis Hanson, this award-winning crime drama explores both the dark side of this Los Angeles police force and Southern California's criminal underbelly in the early'50s when Hollywood was still regarded as America's capital of sophistication, glitter, and glamour.

Dudley Smith (James Cromwell) is the top of the LAPD and is loyal to his officers and wanting to show a blind eye to violence or corruption within his office provided that it is the"bad guys" that are getting hurt. Ed Exley (Guy Pearce) is a defeat cop-turned-detective whose rigorous by-the-book philosophy and openness to blow the whistle on other officers is balanced by a shrewd and opportunistic understanding.

Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey) is a flashy"Hollywood" detective who serves as a technical adviser for the TV series Badge of Honor. He's also in cahoots with Sid Hudgeons (Danny DeVito), publisher of this scandal sheet Hush Hush, who throws kickbacks to Vincennes in exchange for being brought along when showbiz.

White, Exley, and Vincennes find themselves drawn into a tangled and sticky web of violence and betrayal following a multiple murder at a coffee shop that's believed to become a portion of an effort by Mickey Cohen (Paul Guilfoyle) to consolidate his hold on organized crime at L.A.

This guide appears to be connected to the discovery of eccentric porn and callgirl ring run by Pierce Patchett (David Strathairn), whose females are awarded plastic surgery to ensure White's part at the analysis is difficult when he falls for Lynn Bracken (Kim Basinger), among of Patchett's prostitutes, who is the spitting image of veronica lake. L.A.

Confidential was nominated for nine Academy Awards and netted 2, with Brian Helgeland honoured for Best Adapted Screenplay, also Kim Basinger taking home a statuette as Best Supporting Actress.

L.A. Confidential Movie Review

This is the movie that turned me around about Russell Crowe.  Up until watching this movie -- now probably almost 20 years ago, I didn't think much of him as an actor.  This turned me around (almost 20 years ago) and I have watched this movie time after time.  Always enjoy it with the power plays, the different agendas of the characters, the characters themselves.  It is really an extremely well-done movie.  It also made me want to visit Bisbee, Arizona where Kim Basinger's character was from -- & where she & White's character ends up leaving for at the end of the movie.


L.A. Confidential Movie Cast

  • Kevin Spacey as Jack Vincennes
  • Russell Crowe as Wendell "Bud" White
  • Guy Pearce as Edmund "Ed" Exley
  • Kim Basinger as Lynn Bracken
  • James Cromwell as Capt. Dudley Smith
  • Danny DeVito as Sid Hudgens
  • David Strathairn as Pierce Morehouse Patchett
  • Ron Rifkin as District Attorney Ellis Loew
  • Graham Beckel as Det. Richard "Dick" Stensland
  • Amber Smith as Susan Lefferts
  • John Mahon as Police Chief
  • Paul Guilfoyle as Meyer "Mickey" Cohen
  • Matt McCoy as Brett Chase
  • Paolo Seganti as Johnny Stompanato
  • Simon Baker Denny as Matt Reynolds
  • Tomas Arana as Michael Breuning
  • Michael McCleery as William Carlisle
  • Shawnee Free Jones as Tammy Jordan
  • Darrell Sandeen as Leland "Buzz" Meeks
  • Marisol Padilla S├ínchez as Inez Soto
  • Gwenda Deacon as Mrs. Lefferts
  • Jim Metzler as Councilman
  • Brenda Bakke as Lana Turner

Directed by
  • Curtis Hanson

Produced by
  • Arnon Milchan
  • Curtis Hanson
  • Michael Nathanson
  • David L. Wolper

Screenplay by
  • Brian Helgeland
  • Curtis Hanson

Based on L.A. Confidential by 
  • James Ellroy

Music by
  • Jerry Goldsmith

  • Dante Spinotti

Edited by
  • Peter Honess

Production company
  • Regency Enterprises
  • The Wolper Organization

Distributed by
  • Warner Bros.

Release date
  • September 19, 1997 (United States)


L.A. Confidential Movie Trailer

L.A. Confidential Movie Plot

During the Christmas season of 1952,  authorities officer Wendell"Bud" White (Russell Crowe), while outside on a  liquor run along with his partner, Dick Stensland checks in on a parolee he had sent to San Quentin State Penitentiary and finds him abusing his wife.  Bud has no tolerance for those that are violent with women, seeing his own mother was killed by his drunk and abusive dad. 

To lure the wife-beater out, Bud yanks the man's lighted Santa sleigh and reindeer decorations out of the roof of the house.  When the man comes out to confront White, White beats him senseless and handcuffs him to the porch railing.  Bud informs the man he'll be sent back to prison for around 18 months and that he'll be watching him after he's released, threatening to send him back on a child rape charge.

The photo of this jailhouse melee makes the front page of The Los Angeles Times, describing the incident as "Bloody  Christmas", sparking public outrage and demand for the responsible parties to be held accountable for  White rushes into the hospital morgue to look at your human anatomy.  Crestfallen to visit his friend among the deceased (especially considering he'd only spoken to him a few hours early in the day in the parking garage when he'd surrendered his badge and gun), he demands the narrative from Exley who fills him in. 

He and Exley then sit in as another of those victims, Susan Lefferts, is identified by her mother.  When he sees her entire body, Bud immediately recognizes Susan while the woman in the car who seemed to become injured the night he and Stensland were purchasing the liquor.

Dudley then meets with White and criticizes him for that which he uttered a lack of enthusiasm concerning his job.  He informs White that they'll certainly be going into the Victory Motel to interrogate the man he thinks last watched Vincennes living.  

Dudley asks him several questions that don't provide much information.  However, during the beating administered by White himself,'' Hudgens talks about how Pierce Patchett uses his women to blackmail.  White becomes enraged, thinking that Hudgens spied on him.  He turns Hudgens' seat over and stands out into the reporter's car. 

In the trunk, he finds images, not to himself with Lynn, but of Lynn with Exley.  White becomes farther enraged and drives off.  Meanwhile, Smith and Breuning suffocate Hudgens within his protests he was part of a"team" with them.

Exley is greeted as a hero back at the station and Smith dubs him"Shotgun Ed."  With the case closed, Exley has been given the department's highest decoration, the Medal of Valor in the line of duty, and earns the admiration of the detectives in the department who despised him.  Vincennes returns to the Narcotics group and the"Badge of Honor" TV show.  

To do so, he has blackmailed that a councilman into approving the project with some compromising photos showing him cavorting with Lynn.   The work soon begins to burn Whiteout, and also his affair with Lynn gradually softens his barbarous demeanour.

Vincennes is temporarily suspended, per his deal with the DA, and upon his reinstatement is assigned to a Vice task force looking to break up prostitution rings around the town.  He is intrigued when he notices a sign of blossom on the dossier he has given and recognizes it as the logo from the Fleur de Lis business card he found in Matt Reynolds' bungalow.  His attempt to contact them  within the phone is unsuccessful.

Putting aside all other investigations, the senior detectives from all departments are assigned to the search and apprehension of their Nite Owl killers.  Much to the consternation of his fellow detectives, Exley himself can lead to the interrogations of the suspects when they are attracted in.  Leads are few but a report on three"negro" males firing shotguns, driving a late 1940s Mercury Coupe, will soon be followed by most of the two-man teams involved.

While knocking off drinks in a pub and looking at the $50 bill Sid gave him, Vincennes begins to build up uneasiness about setting up Reynolds and the D.A.  He decides he will let the young celebrity off the hook and goes into the proverbial ahead of the photoshoot to talk to Reynolds.  He spots Lynn and walks with her.   Lynn says they are going for her hometown of Bisbee, Arizona. 

Vincennes and Exley next visit White in Lynn Bracken's home.  Vincennes recalls"Fleur de Lis" & understands that Lynn is one of Patchett's prostitutes, and pay  Patchett a trip to get some good answers for Vincennes' case.  As they're leaving, a call is available in telling them that Meeks' human anatomy has been I 'd.

Exley sends Vincennes to find the news while Exley pays a telephone to Bracken.  Refusing to answer that the lieutenant's questions, she tickles him Sid Hudgens photographs them from behind a one-way mirror.

One day, during a campaign rally on the set of"Badge of Honor", Vincennes is approached by Sid Hudgens with another job: Hudgens is deliberately setting up LA District Attorney Loew in a blackmail plot by arranging a sensual encounter with Matt Reynolds (exactly the same young celebrity arrested by Jack himself at Xmas ) both of whom will undoubtedly be busted by Vincennes. 

Vincennes tries to ask if Sid has any knowledge about Patchett's prostitution ring, but Sid is not of help since Patchett isn't the sort of the person he can ruin with a scandal. White's suspicion is confirmed when he visits with Lefferts' distraught mother and she identifies Stensland out of a photograph, a man she disapproved of. 

She also tells White which Stensland had been seen with another man carrying out a bundle into her backyard.  When White notices that Mrs. Lefferts comes with a towel placed at the bottom of a door leading into her back sunroom to block a strong unpleasant stench, he checks out the crawlspace under the house and finds out a badly rotted corpse. 

He finds that a pocket in the man's coat.  Much to his shock, your human body is the Buzz Meeks, Patchett's former chauffeur and the man Bud had first seen beyond the liquor store Christmas.  Bud leaves the body behind for someone else to find and tells Lefferts' mother that the stench is actually just a big rat, even giving her the money in Meeks' wallet.

In a lavish Hollywood Xmas party for the series of Honor, Sgt. Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey), a narcotics detective, is dancing by his date when he could be satisfied with Sid Hudgens. Vincennes is really just a technical advisor to the show's lead performer Brett Chase, teaching him how to act like a cop. 

He has also found a feast going on with Sid at which he busts actors for minor offences and Sid then writes trashy gossip to ruin their livelihood in hush hush.  Tonight, Sid has a tip for Jack: 2 starlets, Matt Reynolds and Tammy Jordan, have purchased a quantity of marijuana and have rented a hotel

Sid promises Vincennes a $50 payment for doing the separation, in  exchange for exclusive policy in hush hush, though Vincennes ups the demand to $100 to pay for the additional payoffs for two patrolmen and a watch commander.

Smith announces the next day that the department will suspend all cases until Jack's killer can be found. He talks straight to Exley concerning the only real lead: Jack's last words, suspecting that Rollo Tomasi isn't a placeholder name but a real person Vincennes is acquainted with.  Exley manages to keep a straight face as he realizes that Dudley could only know that name if he had been the one who took Vincennes. 

Exley is more complicated, knowing that his own testimony will secure him a promotion to lieutenant and detective level, agrees to appear in court for a surprise witness, and also shows political acumen that even Smith couldn't imagine: that the people will not be happy when law enforcement bury this
scandal, or so the blame ought to be altered to participants who have already secured their pensions and can be convinced to take early retirements, while indicting Stensland and White as the ones who purchased the liquor for the party. 

 DA Loew agrees, and the principle immediately has Exley encouraged to Lieutenant (noting parallels between Exley's increase and of his dad ) on the area.
Back at the station, Exley begins to have second thoughts about the Nite Owl case too while 

Wheeling Inez Soto, the suspects' rape victim from their hospital to be paraded before the press, even when Inez mentions being unsure about what period the Nite Owl suspects abandoned.  This leads him to move to down to the coroner that White had spoken to earlier. 

Exley follows White's cause Mrs. Lefferts' dwelling and finds Meeks' remains.  He takes it into the morgue, demanding an identity on your human body and that the coroner share it with no one else, they would go into Vincennes and asks for his help in investigating further details concerning the Nite Owl case. 

Exley convinces  Vincennes by sharing the story of his father was killed with a random mugger, who had been never identified, however, whom Exley has named"Rollo Tomasi" to offer him a personality.  Vincennes promises to help Exley in case Exley will help him solve Reynold's murder.

But, Loew and Smith note that Exley's testimony will likely probably be worthless unless they can produce another witness.  For this particular, Exley proposes Vincennes, figuring he can be compelled to testify against the threat of losing his technical adviser role on Badge of Honor.  The officials invite Exley to watch since Vincennes meets with them and they lay out the bargain of Exley. 

Vincennes agrees and takes a transfer to the vice department following a  momentary suspension, though really is quick to figure out that Exley is your star witness. A team is sent outside to Fitch's house.  White sneaks in first, finding a young Mexican woman bound naked to a bed and clearly beaten, and raped. 

Bud finds Fitch watching TV and shoots him dead, before planting a pistol on him.  When the casualty is driven away in an ambulance, Exley attempts to ask her when the three black men left her White stops him, waving the ambulance away.  Bud seems angered that Exley is only concerned about furthering his livelihood, which Exley counters by saying that Stensland" got what he deserved" and White's fate is going to be the same. 

White tries to attack Exley however is held back again.  At that moment a report has been issued, that the 3 black suspects have escaped from the precinct. Exley joins Vincennes on a hunch and they turn up  the address of Sugar Ray Collins, that pushes the automobile mentioned in the guide.  They track the man and his two friends for their house and find the car or truck and shotguns in a garage. 

In addition, they find Breuning and Carlisle have beaten them.  Vincennes argues briefly with the 2 other officers  around who will detain the three men; Breuning and Carlisle had gotten there and Vincennes knows the the arrest can get him back in with the narcotics squad.  Exley pulls rank and requests them to any or all go together and Collins and his friends, Ty Jones, and Lewis Fontaine are detained without a lot of incidents, although Exley needs to divert Carlisle shotgun to keep him away from shooting one among those suspects.

When they arrive there they find they're too late Dudley or someone working for him has a slit Patchett's wrists and left it to look like a suicide.  Believing that Lynn had some knowledge of Patchett's plan, they arranged to have her taken to a nearby police station for safety.  Exley goes there and talks to her, saying Bud feels guilt for beating her. 

White would go to Sid Hudgens' office and finds that Smith has dropped his body there, but the detectives note, it'll be hard to pin it on anybody given the number of people crap was dug up by Sid on for Hush-Hush.  While there, he also receives a call telling him to meet Exley at the Victory Motel.

Vincennes tails White into the Formosa Bar where White catches up with Mickey Cohen's former enforcer Johnny Stompanato, and finds out (after roughly squeezing the man's crotch) that Meeks had come into a large supply of heroin.  White concludes that Meeks was killed to it.

During the questioning of the suspects and tactfully using the interrogation chamber's PA speakers and microphones, Exley demonstrates brilliant tactical skill, tricking the 3 men into believing that they will have informed on each other. 

The three have criminal records and also have spent time in juvenile centers, which Exley additionally applies to his advantage.  One of these, crying and nearly hysterical, tells Exley which they'd seen your house of another man, Sylvester Fitch, therefore he can lose his virginity to a woman held captive there. 

Enraged, Bud White rushes into Ty Jones' room and, drawing his pistol and emptying every chamber in the cylinder but one he places the muzzle in the man's mouth and plays Russian Roulette, demanding Fitch's address, which Jones supplies up.

White staunchly won't rat on Stensland because the ringleader of this incident and is arranged suspended without pay. Even the forensics team quickly reports that there were six victims.  Even the shooters are determined to own fired fifteen rounds, and that suggests three Remington shotguns using five-shot capacity and three gunmen.  It also turns out that one of the deceased has been identified as Stensland.

Within days, the fallout from the scandal blows over: Stensland is fired thus the police have a scapegoat who can take all of the responsibility for the incident, whereas various other officers are forced into early retirement.  Exley moves up to Homicide downtown and can be despised by his own coworkers.  

White agrees to aid Smith, and detectives Michael Breuning and William Carlisle in a new project and is taken off suspension.
The suspects are taken into a distant and abandoned motel complex termed the Victory and therefore so are beaten by White and threatened into leaving the town.  While this goes on, several former Cohen lieutenants are gunned down from two-man teams armed with Thompson submachine guns in what the press speculate to be always a power struggle to gain control of the emptiness left by Cohen's imprisonment. 

In one incident, Cohen's greatest heroin dealer is murdered in his house and 20 kilograms of the product will be stolen by the unidentified killers. He's interviewed by a writer from the Los Angeles Times, who cite his late father Preston Exley's own famous reputation as a police officer, even suggesting that Exley includes a whole lot to surpass. 

Exley also talks with his own captain, Dudley Smith (James Cromwell), that expresses disappointment in the young officer and warns that unless he is willing to embrace exactly the barbarous tactics (planting evidence, interrogative beatings) employed by officers like his father, he'll never be considered a powerful detective in the department. 

Exley intends to build his career as an honest cop, even though that means being a pariah with the rank and file cops.  As a final word of advice, Smith urges Exley not to have on his glasses because nobody else on the force traces them.

When he checks the daily log books he finds Smith had signed off on nearly most Meeks' and Stensland's work for many years and comprehends the connection between these is prominent.  White visits Lynn's house, furiously and jealously demanding to know about her tryst.  When she tries to calm him down, he hits her, bruising her face. 

At the moment, three Mexican suspects are brought in; it is believed them assaulted two police officials, that came from this incident with minor injuries.  The details of the incident quickly turned into hyperbolic as gossip spreads.  Vincennes himself contributes to the escalation and the drunk partygoers are cause believe both officers are near death in the hospital. 

Stensland and some of the other partygoers, already intoxicated, rush downstairs to the holding area.  Refusing to recognize Exley's authority as watch commander, the scene quickly gets ugly since the Mexican prisoners are brutally beaten.  Exley is locked in the isolation room when he attempts to intervene. 

White tries to pull on Stensland off one among those prisoners and calm him down only to become provoked into the attack when insulted by one of them.  Vincennes joins in as well when a prisoner falls on him, bloodying his fancy suit. 

The terrorists who had been interviewing Exley are also present, snapping a photo of their struggle. On his first night in Homicide, right after 2:00 AM, Exley gets a call in a murder at the Nite Owl coffee shop, a typical hangout for cops.  Exley is based on the scene and finds the cook shot dead behind the counter, and the check out emptied, suggesting a burglar. 

He notices an overturned chair and realizes there were clients inside.  He then notices a blood trail that contributes to the men's bathroom.  Following this course, '' he finds five bodies accumulated in the restroom riddled with shotgun blasts.
White is shaken by the fact that two of those Nite Owl victims - Stensland and Lefferts - crossed avenues shortly before the killings.  Acting on his hunches strikes out on their own to follow this lead, refusing to be partnered.  He returns into the liquor store where he met with Lynn and upon asking the owner, has been given the speech of a man named Pierce Patchett (David Strathairn)and also the man sitting next to Lefferts the night he met her and Meeks.  
The prostitution ring has been called"Fleur de Lis", which unbeknownst to White maybe your ring that Vincennes has been looking into.   Patchett will not disclose any details regarding Lefferts' murder and cuts the meeting short.
Bud and Stensland go to a liquor store where they buy alcohol for an event in their precinct.  Bud meets with a beautiful woman in the store named Lynn, who recognizes he is just really actually a cop.  Leaving the store, Bud notices a young woman, whose face is bruised and bandaged, sitting in the backseat of an automobile with another unidentified man. 
When Bud inquires concerning what happened, he's met by the car's driver, Leland'Buzz' Meeks, who tries to shine him on.  Bud disarms him and inquires in regards to the injured woman, who informs him herself that she's OK.  He returns Meeks' pistol and wallet.  When he gets back into their own vehicle, Stensland confirms that Meeks is a cop.
They go to Loew's office and demand wiretaps to get Smith.  Loew refuses and further fails to disclose any information regarding Reynolds' murder and divides them stepping into his own workplace bathroom. White pushes the DA's head into the toilet and dangles him out the window.  Loew caves and tells him Reynolds was killed because he had been present when he and Smith contended over the assumption of the Cohen drug-dealing rackets. 

Loew was allowed to live due to his influence and because he promised not to violate them.  Bud and Ed agree totally that their next stop is Patchett's house. White finds Exley in the records room at the station and attacks him after showing him the photo of him and Lynn together.  Exley manages to struggle White away and understands that Dudley intended for White to find the movies, therefore, he'd be provoked into killing Exley, giving Dudley leverage on White. 

The 2 stop their battle and begin to examine everything they will have each uncovered in regards to the conspiracy: Meeks, Stensland, Vincennes, Reynolds and the missing heroin are all linked.  Exley now recognizes that the black men which were charged with the Nite Owl attack were setup: when he and Vincennes revealed upward, Breuning and Carlisle were there and had planted the shotguns, and so were going to kill the three men so that no questions would be asked when they were captured resisting arrest. 

Exley, talking to a stenographer, gets an address that has been given with one of those black men, where they had bought medication.  Unable to buy Vincennes, Exley takes Carlisle with him to the speech and they burst in to find the 3 supposes with their narcotics supplier, Roland Navarette.  When Lewis accidentally knocks a bottle off the  table, the trigger-happy Carlisle shoots him. 

Jones tries to catch a revolver, but he's also shot dead from Exley.  Collins tries to flee to the lift, however, Exley jams his shotgun in just like the door is going to close and takes him out too well.
At the Victory, both find that the calls were planted to receive them together in a vulnerable location.   
They last in exactly the cabin where Sid Hudgens has been murdered.  Smith's men approach the cabin and White and Exley opens fire; a ferocious gunfight ensues.  They eventually kill most of Smith's men, however, they are confronted by Smith himself, that shoots White, forcing him to collapse.

Smith turns his gun on a cornered Exley, '' he says"Rollo Tomasi".  Smith asks who the man is, Exley informs him it's Smith himself, merely because he is a man who can bypass the law.  Smith hears approaching police cars and tells Exley to walk out with him promising to help expand the younger man's career.

In addition, he informs Ed to demonstrate his badge.  Exley shoots Smith in the back and walks out, holding his badge as Smith instructed. Cohen, however, is detained on income tax evasion and sent to prison on MacNeil Island in Washington state, leaving open up the rackets he'd expanded for a long time.

"Recall dear readers, " he signs off, "You heard it here first.  On the list off the QT, and very Hush-hush." White becomes suspicious of many of the details surrounding the Nite Owl murders and talks to the coroner.  The files from the instance are in the laboratory of a doctor.  Studying a picture of the seating area, White notices a spot of blood on the walls next to one of those tables, even as if one of these victims had been knocked out before being dragged into the men's bathroom. 

The physician notes that bloodstain was Stensland's blood. The food on the table, and a lipstick mark on the java cup contrary Stensland's place, indicate to Bud that Stensland had been there with a woman (White remembers Stensland said he was going on a date the night, and concludes he might have needed a girlfriend). 

He's led to believe that said girlfriend was Susan Lefferts as the only other female victim was that the night shift waitress. He belongs into Smith's house to inquire regarding the work that Meeks and Stensland did for Smith on some Vice cases they worked twelve years earlier. 

Everything Vincennes isn't aware of is that Smith is in fact that Nite Owl ringleader something he only realizes when Smith suddenly produces a pistol and shoots at him once he admits he's not yet confided this lead.  Remembering what Exley confided in him concerning his dad's killer, he has one last thing to express about Smith before he yells:"Rollo Tomasi."

Sitting in one of many very same interview chambers he used to interrogate the 3 black men, Exley explains the intricate connections in case.  Even the DA and LAPD Chief are incredulous however realize the department's reputation for upholding regulations will undoubtedly probably likely be threatened. 

While floating the solution of glorifying Smith using Exley's help, they spot Exley beaming.  When the principal asks him why he says they'll need more than one hero.

Vincennes busts Matt and Tammy and arrests them in a gaudy show that Sid headlines since the"Movie Premiere Pot Bust" (because of Vincennes directing Sid to take the informative post picture from this an angle so as to capture a picture theater premiere going on in the background). 

While Vincennes is investigating the bungalow that he pockets that the small amount of marijuana that the two brought and is intrigued to find a business card for an agency called"Fleur de Lis".  They are booked for possession of marijuana at Smith’s police station.  Fails that the $10 bribe Jack offers him a reply that perplexes Vincennes.