To Live And Die In LA (1985)



I blooming loved this 80’s film from director William Friedkin. It’s a mighty strange film though, it has equal measures of cheese, art house cinema and tough no nonsense cop action. To be honest I nearly didn’t make it past the first scene, on the roof with the terrorist, man I nearly exploded my funny bone! it was so freaking ridiculous. Then there’s the whole guarding the President seemed totally out of context to the rest of the film when for the rest of the film they are smashing the streets looking more like LA cops. But I’m so glad I stayed with it as the mishmash of kooky styles made this film so very unique.


Let the good times roll

The plot is pretty basic and goes along the lines of tough Secret Service agent Richie Chance, played by William Petersen, is after a counterfeiter who killed his idol and partner. Then gets a new partner to break in called John Vukovich, played by John Pankow. What follows I can really only describe as insanity, which should make this film a colossal mess but William Friedkin pulls out all the stops and makes a classic movie which I can’t believe I hadn’t seen until last week.

Tagline – A federal agent is dead. A killer is loose. And the City of Angels is about to explode….

.The rest is really just notes and observations. Eric Masters (Willem Dafoe) is an artist and an expert counterfeiter who loves nothing more than getting naked and rolling around with his quirky squeeze Bianca Torres (Debra Feuer) and filming their love making. He also has a beefed up hitman on the payroll who loves his job way too much.


Hey! You wanna see me naked?

It’s around the Eric Masters scenes where the art house surreal stuff comes flooding in, little weird edits that try and trip you up, like he is living in his own abstract painting.

The ever excellent John Turturro pops up as a dodgy geezer Carl Cody and gets some great scenes running about and doing what he does best, being classic John Turturro.

A bit of base jumping is thrown in and a church stakeout which kind of shows are two heros are quite inapt! There is an outrageous gym montage which has a roided up big buxom lady just working out whilst they chat business.


Shhh! Don’t worry the steroids make them deaf…

Then to change things up you get a ten minute car chase which is super awesome and might not be as good as Friedkin’s classic The French Connection car chase but it’s pretty dope.

Add all the editing, imagery and wonderful attention to detail, where you get every title sequence showing the date in a different style and font every time they appear.

Oh and to top things off you then get punched in the face with a hundred hand slaps by the cheesy soundtrack from 80’s electro pop group Wang Chung. It’s pretty bad but sums up the era. You can always rely on a cheesy 80’s soundtrack to truly date a movie.


I quite like the soundtrack! You shitting me?……

Right I’m all the over the place on this one. I loved it, definitely not for everyone but well worth hunting done for a look. Hope you enjoyed this one, let me know if you did. Take it easy….. Wolfie

Ok heres that car chase. It’s nice and epic.

Further Reading Links

To Live And Die In LA IMDB

Roger Ebert’s Review

To Live And Die In LA WIKI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.