Director: Curtis Hanson
Stars: Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce
Plot: 1950's Los Angeles is the seedy backdrop for this intricate noir-ish tale of police corruption and Hollywood sleaze. Three very different cops are all after the truth, each in their own style: Ed Exley, the golden boy of the police force, willing to do almost anything to get ahead, except sell out; Bud White, ready to break the rules to seek justice, but barely able to keep his raging violence under control; and Jack Vincennes, always looking for celebrity and a quick buck until his conscience drives him to join Exley and White down the one-way path to find the truth behind the dark world of L.A. crime.
At the time the film takes place, no building in Los Angeles was allowed to be taller than City Hall, so the cameras were placed at certain points so that any building taller than City Hall would not be seen.
James Ellroy describes the character of Bud White as the biggest cop on the L.A. force. Noting that he wasn't even 6 foot, Russell Crowe decided to move into an apartment so small that he had to duck to get into the doorways and could barely stand up in. Crowe said this worked in making him feel like a "giant" by the time he came to the set to shoot.
Studio execs were adamantly against the idea of casting two non-Americans (Crowe and Guy Pearce) in an American period piece.
The character of rape victim Inez Soto has a much larger role in the novel. There, Inez is the girl over whom Bud and Exley compete.
Before filming began, Curtis Hanson brought Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce to Los Angeles for two months to immerse them in the city and the time period. He also brought them dialect coaches and introduced them to real-life cops.
Russell Crowe based his performance on that of Sterling Hayden in Stanley Kubrick's The Killing (1956) "for that beefy manliness that came out of World War II".
Mickey Cohen, the mobster who gets locked up which causes the war for control of the drug trade in the story, was a real-life Los Angeles mobster from the late '30s until his death in 1976 after two imprisonments for tax evasion. He was a small-time hood who joined forces with Bugsy Siegel when Siegel came to L.A. to run the rackets (see Bugsy (1991)). After Siegel's murder in 1947, Cohen took over the rackets that Bugsy had built up, including labor union shakedowns at the studios, drug trafficking, gambling and prostitution. He was so hated by the police that he was constantly arrested for any crime, big or small (he was once arrested for using foul language on the street). As shown in the movie, he was eventually imprisoned for income tax evasion and spent nearly ten years in prison. After his release, he was semi-retired from the rackets and lived off his wealth, remaining a colorful character in Los Angeles until his death in 1976.
Pierce Patchett's business is based on the long-time rumor that there really was a house of prostitution in Hollywood that supplied ladies meticulously dressed and made up to resemble famous movie stars. In his memoir "Hollywood: Stars and Starlets, Tycoons and Flesh-Peddlers, Moviemakers and Moneymakers, Frauds and Geniuses, Hopefuls and Has-Beens, Great Lovers and Sex Symbols," Garson Kanin describes a visit to a place called Mae's where the madam dressed as Mae West and presided over a cast of replicas of Barbara Stanwyck, Joan Crawford, Carole Lombard, Marlene Dietrich and Ginger Rogers, among others.
Russell Crowe initially turned the film down, as he did not believe he could convincingly portray such a tough character.
Kevin Spacey had a great deal of difficulty playing dead. It was easy enough for him to stare straight ahead when there was another actor in front of him, but he first instinct was to follow James Cromwell with his eyes when he moved. He had to ask a production assistant to draw a circle for him to look at onto the opposite wall.
The Victory Motel, where the climactic shoot-out takes place, was the only set actually constructed for the film.
Despite having the top billing, Kevin Spacey has the least amount of screen time out of the three main actors
Film is loosely based on James Ellroy's 1990 novel of the same name, the third book in his L.A. Quartet series
The title refers to the 1950s scandal magazine Confidential, portrayed in the film as Hush-Hush.
Guy Pearce did not like his character when he first read the screenplay and remarked, "I was pretty quick to judge him and dislike him for being so self-righteous ... But I liked how honest he became about himself. I knew I could grow to respect and understand him."