Saw LA Confidential in the theater. Rented it a few years later. Liked it maybe more. Decided to read the book. Library didn’t have it. Library had The Cold Six Thousand. Borrowed The Cold Six Thousand. Didn’t realize the title described the page length. Hated it. Most unpleasant reading experience ever. No more Ellroy for me.
Fast forward. I’m asked to review Blood’s a Rover. What the hell. It’s been a few years. My tastes evolve. My consciousness expands. I’ve showered. I devoured Blood’s a Rover. Rolled in it. Now I dig the devil dog. He hears his own drummer. Marches to it. Calls it names. Peeps on it. He’s hip. He gets it. He speaks truth. Added American Tabloid to the list. Have to read the LA Quarter in order. Work my up to LA Confidential. Settle for the movie for now.
Enough of that shit. The Beloved Spouse and I re-watched LA Confidential over the weekend. Damn near a perfect movie. Hard. Violent. Venal people. Tough language. (I said to stop that!)
Every time I see LA Confidential I like it a little more. I look forward to the favorite scenes like a Pulp Fiction fan boy. Good cop, bad cop, hanging the DA out the window. Rollo Tomasi. That is Lana Turner. Hold up your badge so they’ll know you’re a policeman. Even better, I learn a little about storytelling every time I watch LA Confidential. Getting into and out of scenes economically. Even more important, knowing how long to stay.
Not having read the book but having some familiarity with Ellroy, screenwriter Brian Helgeland and director Curtis Hanson must have done some major surgery to get the movie down it its fast-moving 138 minutes. The screenplay is seamless. Even if it’s not, Hanson’s direction, combined with a cast full of spot-on performances, keep any blemishes from sticking out.
The casting is inspired. Kevin Spacey and Kim Basinger were the names at the time, though Hanson had to fight the studio to use the 44-year-old Basinger. (Yeah, she was 44, kids. Can you spell MILF?) Two relatively unknown (at the time) Australians play the leads (Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce). Veteran character actor James Cromwell is a villain for the ages, only two years removed from his first starring role as the farmer in Babe. Danny DeVito was born to play Sid Hudgens, and David Straithairn can play just about anything well. All brought their A games.
If you haven’t seen it and are into crime fiction, hasten thee to Netflix post haste, though I wonder how into crime fiction you can be and not have seen LA Confidential. I’m a little jealous of you, getting to see it for the first time. While Hanson has done good work since—Wonder Boys and Too Big To Fail come to mind—LA Confidential stand above his work like the Hollywood sign. Everything else look up at it, and it will always be there. He made Ellroy’s work, never readily accessible to most readers, part of the mainstream, though a very strange and alternate route sort of part.
Still, no fucking way am I reading The Cold Six Thousand ever again.