|Writers:||Brian Helgeland and Curtis Hanson|
|Director of Photography:||Dante Spinotti|
|Production Designer:||Jeannine Claudia Oppewall|
|Producer:||Curtis Hanson, Arnon Milchan and Michael G. Nathanson|
|Warner Bros.; R; 136 minutes|
|Cast:||Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, James Cromwell, Kim Basinger, Danny DeVito|
|Based on a novel by James Ellroy|
A gritty, gorgeous throwback to the golden age of noir. Hanson et al. triumph in paring down Ellroy's tangled, overwritten novel to a refreshingly un-cliched hardboiler. It's 1950s Hollywood and sleaze rules the city (what's new?). Three very different cops are all sniffing out the truth behind a series of murders at the Nite Owl coffee shop: Ed Exley (Pearce), the brown-nosing rookie who'll do anything to get ahead but sell out; Bud White (Crowe), a renegade unable to keep a lid on his raging temper; and Jack Vincennes (Spacey), a smoothie with a weakness for media exposure and a quick buck. Meanwhile, DeVito steals many a scene as a smarmy tabloid journalist, and Basinger purrs in slippery satin nightgowns as one of several hookers “cut” to look like starlets (she's supposedly Veronica Lake). Simultaneously tough-talking and lush-looking, the film immediately engrosses, with finger-snapping dialogue, superb acting, neon-soaked cinematography and quirky minor characters. While some cineastes argue that neo-noir just ain't the real deal, L.A. Confidential proves that the genre has yet to go down for the big sleep.