To Live And Die In L.A.


1h 56m 1985
To Live And Die In L.A.

Brief Synopsis

A Secret Service agent becomes obsessed with tracking down a notorious and dangerous Los Angeles counterfeitor.

Film Details

Also Known As
Police fédérale, Los Angeles
MPAA Rating
R
Genre
Action
Crime
Drama
Thriller
Release Date
1985
Distribution Company
METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER STUDIOS INC. (MGM )/UNITED INTERNATIONAL PICTURES (UIP)
Location
Los Angeles, California, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 56m

Synopsis

A Secret Service agent becomes obsessed with tracking down a notorious and dangerous Los Angeles counterfeitor.

Crew

Jeb Adams

Stunts

Gary Alexander

Sound

Carl L Anderson

Stunts

Bobby Bass

Stunts

Linda M Bass

Costume Designer

Billy Bates

Stunts

Ken Bates

Stunts

Barry Bedig

Consultant

Barry Bedig

Associate Producer

Jophery Brown

Stunts

Bobby Burns

Stunts

Bill Burton

Stunts

Jeff Bushelman

Sound Effects Editor

David Carlton

Stunts

John Casino

Stunts

Dina Lisa Cheek

Production Coordinator

Phil Chong

Stunts

Wang Chung

Song Performer

Wang Chung

Music

Carl Ciarfalio

Stunts

Ray Colbert

Stunts

Clarke Coleman

Stunts

Buddy Cone

Art Director

Jim Connors

Stunts

Phil Corey

Special Effects

Wally Crowder

Stunts

Tim Culbertson

Stunts

Jay C Currin

Stunts

Jeff Dashnaw

Stunts

Steve M Davison

Stunts

Tim A Davison

Stunts

Jeff Dawn

Makeup Supervisor

Justin Derosa

Stunts

Susie Desanto

Costume Supervisor

Michael Dobie

Sound Effects Editor

Eddy Donno

Stunts

Jean-louis Ducarme

Sound

Doc Duhame

Stunts

Louis L Edemann

Sound Effects Editor

David Ellis

Stunts

Richard Miller Ellis

Stunts

Kenny Endoso

Stunts

F Envil

Song

Tony Epper

Stunts

Alejandro Escovedo

Song

Nicholas Feldman

Song

Erik Felix

Stunts

Pablo Ferro

Consultant

Reiner Fetting

Other

Glory Fioramonti

Stunts

Jimmy Scungelli Fitzpatrick

Consultant

William Friedkin

Screenplay

Robert W Glass

Sound

Lesli Linka Glatter

Choreographer

Pat Green

Stunts

James Halty

Stunts

Orwin C Harvey

Stunts

Michael Healy

Location Manager

Steve Holladay

Stunts

Larry Holt

Stunts

Bill Hank Hooker

Stunts

Buddy Joe Hooker

Stunts

Buddy Joe Hooker

Stunt Coordinator

Hugh M. Hooker

Stunts

Richard Hooker

Stunts

Jack Hues

Song

Thomas J Huff

Stunts

Jere Huggins

Sound Editor

J Paul Huntsman

Sound Editor

Jon Hutman

On-Set Dresser

Gary Hymes

Stunts

Lamont Jackson

Stunts

Walter Jackson

Song Performer

Loren Janes

Stunts

Chris Jenkins

Sound

Linton Kwesi Johnson

Song

Linton Kwesi Johnson

Song Performer

Matt D Johnson

Stunts

Pat E Johnson

Stunt Coordinator

Donna Keegan

Stunts

Lilly Kilvert

Production Designer

Henry Kingi

Stunts

Chip Kinman

Song

Tony Kinman

Song

Jed Leiber

Song

Jerry Leiber

Song

Irving H. Levin

Producer

Billy Lucas

Stunts

Samual Maghett

Song

Pat Mcgroarty

Stunts

Gary Mclarty

Stunts

Pat Mcnamara

Stunts

John C. Meier

Stunts

Gil Miller

Other

Charly Marie Morgan

Stunts

Robby Muller

Director Of Photography

Charles Myers

Assistant Director

Jim Nickerson

Stunts

Rodger Pardee

Sound

Manny Perry

Stunts

Gerald Petievich

Source Material (From Novel)

Gerald Petievich

Screenplay

Jon Pochron

Stunts

Chad Randall

Stunts

Cynthia Lee Rice

Stunts

Jean Riddel

Stunts

Vernon Rieta

Stunts

Dar Allen Robinson

Stunts

Bob Roe

Assistant Director

Danny Rogers

Stunts

Pat Romano

Stunts

R.a. Rondell

Stunts

Ronald Rondell

Stunts

Debbie Lynn Ross

Stunts

Cricket Rowland

Set Decorator

Michael Runyard

Stunts

Otis Rush

Song Performer

Otis Rush

Song

Ray Saniger

Stunts

Samuel Schulman

Executive Producer

Dennis R. Scott

Stunts

Bud Smith

Coproducer

Bud Smith

Executive Editor

John J Smith

Unit Production Manager

Scott Smith

Editor

John Stadelman

On-Set Dresser

Keith Tellez

Stunts

David H Welch

Stunts

Junior Wells

Song Performer

Junior Wells

Song

Woody Wilcoxan

Technical Advisor

Scott Wilder

Stunts

Robert Yeoman

Director Of Photography

Dick Ziker

Stunts

Film Details

Also Known As
Police fédérale, Los Angeles
MPAA Rating
R
Genre
Action
Crime
Drama
Thriller
Release Date
1985
Distribution Company
METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER STUDIOS INC. (MGM )/UNITED INTERNATIONAL PICTURES (UIP)
Location
Los Angeles, California, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 56m

Articles

To Live and Die in L.A. (1985)


Director William Friedkin has called To Live and Die in L.A. (1985) one of the few films that came closest to his original vision. The plot deals with Secret Service agents on the trail of a deadly Los Angeles counterfeiter. But the real attraction for Friedkin was the underlying tension between the two sides and the shades of grey created by shifting sympathies and motivations, in particular the growing corruption of the agents. 

“All of the films...I have chosen to make,” Friedkin said, “are about the thin line between good and evil. And also, the thin line that exists in each and every one of us. That’s what my films are about. That’s what To Live and Die in L.A. is about. There is a thin line between the policeman and the criminal. The best cops are always crossed. The best cops are the ones who are able to think like criminals. But for a quirk of fate, they might have been criminals.”

Friedkin had read Gerald Petievich’s novel in galley form and immediately wanted to make the movie. Petievich was a 15-year veteran of the Secret Service on the verge of retiring from the agency to become a full-time novelist. Friedkin liked not just the authenticity of the criminal pursuits, including counterfeiting, that Petievich explored in his writing but also the general world of Secret Service agents, which could be bizarre in that the agency’s mission covers such a broad range of activity. “The thing that fascinated me,” Friedkin said, “was the surrealism in the life of a Secret Service agent: guarding the President of the United States one day, playing cards with him and telling jokes, and the next day chasing some guy down in a bad neighborhood for 50 dollars’ worth of bad credit cards.”

Friedkin acquired the book’s rights and wrote a draft of a screenplay, but he consulted with Petievich so much that he decided to give him a writing credit, too. MGM supplied a budget of only $6 million, meaning Friedkin was unable to cast major stars. Instead, he turned the entire project into as much of a stripped-down, guerilla-style production as he could. He was lucky to find – and smart to recognize the talents of – future television star William S. Peterson, here in his first lead role as Agent Richard Chance, and rising actor Willem Dafoe as the counterfeiter Rick Masters. Friedkin said Petersen’s intelligence leapt out at him during the audition and that Dafoe’s performance was so deep and complex that even during filming Friedkin adjusted the character to better suit Dafoe’s great range. A year later, Dafoe would score his first Oscar nomination for Platoon (1986), elevating him to stardom.

To Live and Die in L.A., shot entirely on location throughout Los Angeles, was filmed quickly to provide a sense of urgency and immediacy. “Our movie is about a counterfeiter operating in one big counterfeit of a city,” production designer Lilly Kilvert explained. “We were searching for something that isn’t usually associated with Los Angeles – a look of overall urban decay. On the surface, the city looks very clean and bright, but underneath, it’s crumbling, gritty, dull and impermanent.” 

Friedkin did what he had to do to get the shots he desired. For one scene at Los Angeles International Airport, Petersen performed a stunt by running along the top of the divider between moving walkways, while in pursuit of a character played by John Turturro. After a rehearsal, airport security personnel told Friedkin not to do it again, as it went against their safety regulations. Friedkin quietly told Petersen to do the stunt again the same way, and after yelling “cut,” Friedkin simply pretended to yell at Petersen for having done it again.

An admired counterfeiting montage drew much praise for feeling so authentic. Friedkin later said that in order to achieve that authenticity, Petievich used his influence to get a real-life counterfeiter paroled from jail, just so he could create the fake money they needed. Friedkin even used the counterfeiter’s hands in the shots that didn’t require Dafoe’s face. The film’s most famous sequence, however, is its car chase. Devised by Friedkin 14 years after his masterful The French Connection (1971), it is another edge-of-your-seat chase that includes driving against traffic on a Los Angeles freeway. As elaborate as it looks, Friedkin said that even this was filmed relatively quickly and as simply as possible.

During production, Friedkin heard the music of the popular British new wave band Wang Chung and decided their sound could work well with the film. “I told them to make [the score] their impressions of the script,” Friedkin later told critic Jeffrey Anderson. “I cut the movie to their music. It really dictated the nature of certain sequences. I think the music was unique at the time and still is. When you get a good score, it’s inseparable from the rest of the film.”

To Live and Die in L.A. grossed $17 million, turning a profit on its $6 million budget, but it was not viewed as particularly successful. “A rich man’s Miami Vice,” said Variety, “engrossing and diverting enough...but overtooled.” The New York Times described the film as “Mr. Friedkin at his glossiest, a great-looking, riveting movie without an iota of warmth or soul. On its own terms, it’s a considerable success, though it’s a film that sacrifices everything in the interests of style.”

In later years, however, the film developed a cult following. With its pastel color scheme by cinematographer Robby Muller and gritty urban atmosphere, it has since been reassessed as an overlooked ’80s action classic and a key film in the neo-noir movement underway in Hollywood at the time.

To Live And Die In L.a. (1985)

To Live and Die in L.A. (1985)

Director William Friedkin has called To Live and Die in L.A. (1985) one of the few films that came closest to his original vision. The plot deals with Secret Service agents on the trail of a deadly Los Angeles counterfeiter. But the real attraction for Friedkin was the underlying tension between the two sides and the shades of grey created by shifting sympathies and motivations, in particular the growing corruption of the agents. “All of the films...I have chosen to make,” Friedkin said, “are about the thin line between good and evil. And also, the thin line that exists in each and every one of us. That’s what my films are about. That’s what To Live and Die in L.A. is about. There is a thin line between the policeman and the criminal. The best cops are always crossed. The best cops are the ones who are able to think like criminals. But for a quirk of fate, they might have been criminals.”Friedkin had read Gerald Petievich’s novel in galley form and immediately wanted to make the movie. Petievich was a 15-year veteran of the Secret Service on the verge of retiring from the agency to become a full-time novelist. Friedkin liked not just the authenticity of the criminal pursuits, including counterfeiting, that Petievich explored in his writing but also the general world of Secret Service agents, which could be bizarre in that the agency’s mission covers such a broad range of activity. “The thing that fascinated me,” Friedkin said, “was the surrealism in the life of a Secret Service agent: guarding the President of the United States one day, playing cards with him and telling jokes, and the next day chasing some guy down in a bad neighborhood for 50 dollars’ worth of bad credit cards.”Friedkin acquired the book’s rights and wrote a draft of a screenplay, but he consulted with Petievich so much that he decided to give him a writing credit, too. MGM supplied a budget of only $6 million, meaning Friedkin was unable to cast major stars. Instead, he turned the entire project into as much of a stripped-down, guerilla-style production as he could. He was lucky to find – and smart to recognize the talents of – future television star William S. Peterson, here in his first lead role as Agent Richard Chance, and rising actor Willem Dafoe as the counterfeiter Rick Masters. Friedkin said Petersen’s intelligence leapt out at him during the audition and that Dafoe’s performance was so deep and complex that even during filming Friedkin adjusted the character to better suit Dafoe’s great range. A year later, Dafoe would score his first Oscar nomination for Platoon (1986), elevating him to stardom.To Live and Die in L.A., shot entirely on location throughout Los Angeles, was filmed quickly to provide a sense of urgency and immediacy. “Our movie is about a counterfeiter operating in one big counterfeit of a city,” production designer Lilly Kilvert explained. “We were searching for something that isn’t usually associated with Los Angeles – a look of overall urban decay. On the surface, the city looks very clean and bright, but underneath, it’s crumbling, gritty, dull and impermanent.” Friedkin did what he had to do to get the shots he desired. For one scene at Los Angeles International Airport, Petersen performed a stunt by running along the top of the divider between moving walkways, while in pursuit of a character played by John Turturro. After a rehearsal, airport security personnel told Friedkin not to do it again, as it went against their safety regulations. Friedkin quietly told Petersen to do the stunt again the same way, and after yelling “cut,” Friedkin simply pretended to yell at Petersen for having done it again.An admired counterfeiting montage drew much praise for feeling so authentic. Friedkin later said that in order to achieve that authenticity, Petievich used his influence to get a real-life counterfeiter paroled from jail, just so he could create the fake money they needed. Friedkin even used the counterfeiter’s hands in the shots that didn’t require Dafoe’s face. The film’s most famous sequence, however, is its car chase. Devised by Friedkin 14 years after his masterful The French Connection (1971), it is another edge-of-your-seat chase that includes driving against traffic on a Los Angeles freeway. As elaborate as it looks, Friedkin said that even this was filmed relatively quickly and as simply as possible.During production, Friedkin heard the music of the popular British new wave band Wang Chung and decided their sound could work well with the film. “I told them to make [the score] their impressions of the script,” Friedkin later told critic Jeffrey Anderson. “I cut the movie to their music. It really dictated the nature of certain sequences. I think the music was unique at the time and still is. When you get a good score, it’s inseparable from the rest of the film.”To Live and Die in L.A. grossed $17 million, turning a profit on its $6 million budget, but it was not viewed as particularly successful. “A rich man’s Miami Vice,” said Variety, “engrossing and diverting enough...but overtooled.” The New York Times described the film as “Mr. Friedkin at his glossiest, a great-looking, riveting movie without an iota of warmth or soul. On its own terms, it’s a considerable success, though it’s a film that sacrifices everything in the interests of style.”In later years, however, the film developed a cult following. With its pastel color scheme by cinematographer Robby Muller and gritty urban atmosphere, it has since been reassessed as an overlooked ’80s action classic and a key film in the neo-noir movement underway in Hollywood at the time.

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Fall October 4, 1985

Released in United States August 2009

Released in United States 2013

Shown at Locarno International Film Festival (Piazza Grande) August 5-15, 2009.

Released in United States Fall October 4, 1985

Released in United States August 2009 (Shown at Locarno International Film Festival (Piazza Grande) August 5-15, 2009.)

Released in United States 2013 (The Late Show)

Began production November 26, 1984.