I had to check I hadn’t written before about To Live and Die in L.A, it’s a film I have a great fondness for and the poster hangs behind me in my writing room. It’s another film that wasn’t well liked on release and that has grown through the years into a real cult item.
William Friedkin is a director of action, or was, his recent films like Killer Joe and Bug are confined pieces based on stage plays, but you can always feel his need to take flight with action, and To Live and Die in L.A is all about action.
The film is very 1980s, the music by Wang Chung is a perfect fit, but it might feel aged to some. The film is also notable in that it’s photographed by the great Robby Muller. Robby was the camera man behind Wim Wenders for a large part of his career. I love Robby’s photography in The American Friend, but as a youngster I always wanted Robbie to shoot a genre film to see what he could do with a car chase.
And a car chase he got, what a car chase, this is the director of The French Connection and he surpassed himself with the ten minute chase in To Live and Die in L.A.
So, the film looks scrumptious, it’s also got a nasty negative streak running through it and a downbeat ending that looks better and better every year. There are great performances from John Turtoro and Willem Dafeo. Dean Stockwell even turns up for a few scenes.
Below is the trailer, but beware its cut that fast you might get a seizure!
So, 77 films to go…
Matthew Cooper has written for Emmerdale, Eastenders, Hollyoaks and Family Affairs. He was winner of the first ever Lloyds Bank Channel Four Film Challenge and the Oscar Moore Screenplay Prize. His first short film starred a then unknown Ewan McGregor and was picked up by Channel Four when Matthew was 19 years old. He’s been a script writer for hire and filmmaker for hire for over 20 years.