L.A. Confidential: Synopsis

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Endless sunshine, alluring glamour, easy money and an industry known as Hollywood --the entire country is transfixed by these seductive images. But beneath the gleaming surface of 1950s Los Angeles lies a corrupt soul. As the energy and growth of post-war America fuels the combustible mix of fantasy and reality, something is bound to explode.

In "L.A. Confidential," a diverse gallery of characters brings the parallel realities of Los Angeles to life: the smooth, glamorous beauties and charming, ambitious men of one world cross abruptly into the twisted, dissolute and lawless terrain of the other. The fantasy is pierced, the shimmering facade shattered.

Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey) is a celebrity cop. He serves as technical advisor to the weekly TV drama that created the image of the L.A.P.D. as the finest police force in the world. Vincennes wears his celebrity for all the city to see, in the way he dresses, the people with whom he associates and the way he carries himself.

"Jack is a smooth character," says Kevin Spacey. "Curtis suggested I think of Dean Martin in 'Rio Bravo' and 'Some Came Running.' I got it -- Vincennes was the cool guy we all wanted to be when we saw those kinds of movies."

Vincennes also participates in vice busts of show-business personalities with Sid Hudgens (Danny DeVito). Hudgens is the editor of the celebrity tell-all magazine Hush-Hush; he's a visionary sleazemonger and the originator of the tabloid journalism industry.

"Jack and Sid enjoy a kind of synergistic relationship, in that I set up a celebrity in some compromising situation, tell him about it and he makes the bust," says DeVito of his character. "I rush in and take the picture, and make sure Jack gets the credit -- and publicity -- for the arrest. Everyone winsexcept the poor guy who goes to jail."

Jack Vincennes becomes involved in a murder investigation which will link him inextricably to fellow detectives Ed Exley (Guy Pearce) and Bud White (Russell Crowe) and lead all three into a dangerously tightening spiral of murder, corruption and intrigue.

Ed Exley is a highly ambitious police officer on the rise. The golden boy of the "new" L.A.P.D, he is a man despised by his fellow cops. Explains Guy Pearce, "Despite his obvious intelligence and abilities, Exley is known as a guy who'll push people out of the way to get what he wants and where he wants to go."

In direct contrast to Exley is Bud White, who's dogged in his pursuit of justice. Russell Crowe has this to say about his character: "If it looks like you might get away with a crime that Bud is absolutely certain you committed, he'd have no fear or second thoughts about simply taking you out."

Exley and White, for all their differences, have one thing in common: a mysterious and beautiful woman named Lynn Bracken (Kim Basinger). White questions Lynn as a possible key to a murder, but finds himself falling in love with her. "All the while he's investigating her, he's becoming more attracted to her, and his directness and loyalty attract her in return," says Crowe.

Exley, on the other hand, is rigidly repressed, but Lynn triggers his deepest desires. When he learns that Bud, a man he despises, is having an affair with Lynn, it becomes the catalyst of Exley's hatred for the other man.

But both detectives soon find they're trying to solve the same case, under the watchful eye of their boss, the infinitely wise and pragmatic Capt. Dudley Smith (James Cromwell). Also observing their progress are Pierce Patchett (David Strathairn), a wealthy and enigmatic social figure; the venal District Attorney, Ellis Lowe (Ron Rifkin); and the entire police department.

"As Exley and White each begin to connect everything that's happening, they become increasingly isolated from those they thought they could trust," states Guy Pearce, "until finally they discover a most unlikely bond, one that culminates in truly life-or-death fashion."

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