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First edition cover
|Cover artist||Jacket design by Paul Gamarello|
Jacket illustration by Stephen Peringer
|Genre||Crime fiction, noir, historical fiction|
|Publisher||The Mysterious Press|
|Media type||Print (hardback & paperback) and audio cassette|
|Pages||496 pp (first edition, hardcover)|
|ISBN||0-89296-293-3 (first edition, hardcover)|
|LC Class||PS3555.L6274 L18 1990|
|Preceded by||The Big Nowhere (1988)|
|Followed by||White Jazz (1992)|
L.A. Confidential (1990) is a neo-noir novel by James Ellroy, and the third of his L.A. Quartet series. James Ellroy dedicated L.A. Confidential "to Mary Doherty Ellroy". The epigraph is "A glory that costs everything and means nothing—Steve Erickson."
The story revolves around several Los Angeles Police Department officers in the early 1950s who become embroiled in a mix of sex, corruption, and murder following a massacre at the Nite Owl coffee shop. The story eventually encompasses organized crime, political corruption, heroin trafficking, pornography, prostitution, and Hollywood. The title refers to the scandal magazine Confidential, which is fictionalized as Hush-Hush. It also deals with the real-life "Bloody Christmas" scandal.
The three protagonists are LAPD officers. Edmund Exley, the son of legendary detective Preston Exley, is a "straight arrow" who informs on other officers in a police brutality scandal. He is first and foremost a politician and a ladder climber. This earns the enmity of Wendell "Bud" White, an intimidating enforcer with a personal fixation on men who abuse women. Between the two of them is Jack Vincennes, who acts as more of a celebrity than a cop, who is a technical advisor on a police television show called Badge of Honor (similar to the real life show Dragnet) and provides tips to a scandal magazine. The three of them must set their differences aside to unravel the conspiracy linking the novel's events.
The book was adapted for a 1997 film of the same name, directed and co-written by Curtis Hanson and starring Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, James Cromwell, Kim Basinger, David Strathairn and Danny DeVito. The film was universally acclaimed. It was nominated for nine Academy Awards. Kim Basinger won both a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the film. Curtis Hanson and Brian Helgeland won the Oscar's Best Adapted Screenplay.
In 2003, a television pilot of L.A. Confidential was aired. However, the pilot was not picked up as a running series. The show's main actors would have been Kiefer Sutherland, Josh Hopkins, David Conrad, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Melissa George, Tom Nowicki, and Eric Roberts. The pilot is a special feature on the two-disc DVD and the Blu-ray releases of the film.
In 2018, CBS ordered a new pilot based on the novel. The pilot will star Walton Goggins as Vincennes, Mark Webber as White, Brian J. Smith as Exley, Sarah Jones as Lynn, Alana Arenas as June, and Shea Whigham as Dick Stensland.
|Character||1997 movie||2003 TV pilot||2018 TV pilot|
|Det. Sgt. Jack Vincennes||Kevin Spacey||Kiefer Sutherland||Walton Goggins|
|Ofc. Wendell "Bud" White||Russell Crowe||Josh Hopkins||Mark Webber|
|Det. Lt. Edmund "Ed" Exley||Guy Pearce||David Conrad||Brian J. Smith|
|Capt. Dudley Smith||James Cromwell||Tom Nowicki||Tony Curran|
|Lynn Bracken||Kim Basinger||Melissa George||Sarah Jones|
|Sid Hudgens||Danny DeVito||Pruitt Taylor Vince||Dominic Burgess|
|Pierce Patchett||David Strathairn||Eric Roberts||TBA|
L.A. Confidential received many positive reviews. The Chicago Tribune said, "Ellroy is a master at juggling plot lines, using a stripped, spare noir style that hits like a cleaver but is honed like a scalpel." San Diego Union-Tribune was quoted saying, "Ellroy will soon be as well known as Hammett and Chandler, and L.A. CONFIDENTIAL will be the book that puts him over the top". The Associated Press said, "Always a master at painting the dark portrait, Ellroy puts down his broad brush for a sharp pen....He's stripped down the language to a hard cutting tool."
- Heffer, Fred (19 September 2017). "Why LA Confidential is Hollywood's last great noir". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 18 October 2017.
- Gottlieb, Akiva (May 5, 2017). "A celebration of the 20th anniversary of L.A. neo-noir classic 'L.A. Confidential". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 18 October 2017.
- Andreeva, Nellie (February 2, 2018). "L.A. Confidential, Eric Holder-Inspired Main Justice Among 4 CBS Drama Pilots From Top Producers". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
- Andreeva, Nellie; Petski, Denise (February 20, 2018). "L.A. Confidential: Walton Goggins To Co-Star In CBS Drama Pilot; Anna Fricke Joins As Co-Showrunner". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
- Otterson, Joe (March 8, 2018). "CBS' 'L.A. Confidential' Pilot Adds Mark Webber, Alana Arenas, Shea Whigham". Variety. Retrieved March 8, 2018.
- Andreeva, Nellie; Petski, Denise (February 22, 2018). "L.A. Confidential: Brian J. Smith To Star In CBS Drama Pilot". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
- Andreeva, Nellie (March 14, 2018). "L.A. Confidential: Sarah Jones To Star In CBS Drama Pilot". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
- Andreeva, Nellie (14 May 2018). "CBS Pilot Update: Will 'LA Confidential' Find Streaming Home?". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
- Goldberg, Lesley (29 June 2018). "'L.A. Confidential': Efforts to Find CBS Pilot a New Home Fail". hollywoodreporter.com. The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 6 February 2019.