The second I finished watching director Curtis Hanson’s 1997 film L.A. Confidential, there were a number of things running through my mind. First, this film is incredible and keeps you on the edge of your seat through the thoroughly calculated and edited plot, which is constantly twisting and turning. Second, I was assured as to why Kim Basinger won an Academy Award for her role as the Veronica Lake look-a-like hooker with a heart of gold. Then I was left contemplating who the heck Veronica Lake was.
Apparently, she was an American film actress and pin-up girl of the 1940s, known primarily for her striking beauty. When I saw a picture of her I was astonished by Basinger’s resemblance to her, but also how much she reminded me of Lauren Bacall. That aside, Mrs. Lake did not meet the end she might have envisioned. Her career collapsed by the end of the 1940s, she filed for bankruptcy, and then died of hepatitis and renal failure (most likely brought on by alcoholism). It is tragic, but not the worst exit for a Hollywood celebrity banking on their looks. It is tricky to stay remain soaring in Never-never-land.
Another interesting fact about this film is that actors Russell Crowe and Guy Pierce were relatively unknown to North American audiences before this film was released. Astonishing, considering Crowe won an Oscar for his role in Gladiator three years later. I personally think that Pierce needs to be in more films because he is exquisite, and I do not count his minimal role in last years Oscar-winning film The King’s Speech (not enough screen time). Maybe it is because I am a sucker for glasses, but I fell hard for his character, Edmund, thus I have come to the conclusion that I will start a petition to get him into more films. Good plan. He is also a part of my favourite quote from the film,
Peirce “A hooker cut to look like Lana Turner is still a hooker.”
Spacey “That is Lana Turner.”
…and with that I burst out laughing.
Kevin Spacey is really spectacular in the film, almost as if he was born to play this truly twisted character, and Danny Devito is such a sleaze, but he plays it perfectly. I must admit I was kind of upset that almost everyone was dead by the end of the film, leaving the two unknown actors (to North American audiences) to hold their own on-screen, which they did. Plus, throwing in a shot of Basinger looking angelic can always be counted on to keep the audience captivated.