This week’s highlighted script strong-arms us to the gritty back-alleys of 1950s Los Angeles and the caroming good cop/bad cop carousel that is Brian Helgeland and Curtis Hanson’s 1997 neo-noir crime yarn LA Confidential. Taut and trussed with tension, this is a screenplay that ably walks the walk and talks the talk. With stiletto sharp dialogue and convincing characters that transcend the genre it sometimes lampoons, LA Confidential is a script that smacks you across the face like a literary blackjack. The screenwriters craft a complex web of double and triple-crosses and keeps the story propelled with plenty of who-dunnit momentum. The dexterity and comprehensive understanding of the conventions of film noir and police procedurals are one of the many reasons the script scooped up an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. It takes long established noir tropes of dusky dames and fast-talking police palaver and delivers something that’s both familiar and all too unique.
To read LA Confidential is to soak up a masterclass in how to write incisive and considered character development. The players are repugnant, but you’re still compelled to care about them. They’re incorrigibly captivating despite their lack of scruples. We’ve got two detectives, Edmund Exley and Bud White. Two diametrically opposed flatfoots in terms of their modus operandi and approach to solving crimes. Exley is an over-calculating pedant hopelessly devoted to following procedures at all costs. While White is a hair-trigger pugilist always ready to wring out a confession from a perp with his wayward fists.
And as the plot thickens these two flawed but charismatic characters contrive to collaborate and take on the characteristics of the other. They prop one another up and compensate each other’s shortcomings developing into this crime-solving force that accentuates the strengths of both detectives while also ameliorating their respective vulnerabilities. It’s a superb example of knitting together nuanced character arcs that intertwine and serve the overall story. The percolating chemistry that swirls between these two obverse foils as they untangle the sinister conspiracy afoot is the impetus of their eventual cracking of the case. It goes beyond mere banter and all-around Dragnet-like ballyhoo. By script’s end, you’ll find it really challenges the motifs of any garden variety buddy-cop movie.
So swig two fingers of gin and gumshoe on over to the library. You’ll need that liquid courage for this hard-boiled hurly-burly of a read.
Off the record, on the QT, and very hush-hush.
And other newly uncovered rubies in our coffers include:
- Drama-mystery series 13 Reasons Why created by Brian Yorkey adapted from the best-selling novel by Jay Asher.
- BET’s R&B infused The New Edition Story penned by Abdul Williams.
- The madcap musical melee that is Rachel Bloom’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
- Fox’s murky crime-drama Gotham developed by Bruno Heller.
So pad on over and have a chinwag. We at the library are always eager and able to bend your ears about the latest and greatest offerings in our collection.
Comb the catalog here.