Hollywood’s James Ellroy enigma

 

One day in the mid-'90s, the lanky and sometimes manic James Ellroy walked into the brownstone New York office of his publisher, Otto Penzler -- the two were going to a fight that night -- and broke the news: He had just sold the film rights to his novel "L.A. Confidential."

"We were laughing so hard we were crying," recalls Penzler, who had published Ellroy on his Mysterious Press. "I was incredulous -- we both agreed it was unfilmable."

They were right, of course. And they were also wrong. The 1997 Curtis Hanson film of "L.A. Confidential" became an enormous critical hit (if only a moderate success at the box office). It also won two Oscars; one for Kim Basinger for supporting actress and another for Hanson and Brian Helgeland for adapted screenplay.

Only the most die-hard Ellroy fan resented that the film resembled his labyrinthine novel -- with its dozens of characters, thick historical context and overlapping subplots -- only slightly. It's considered one of the finest films of the '90s and one of the greatest film noirs since the genre's 1950s heyday.

But since then, when it comes to movies, it's been more crying than laughing for Ellroy fans.

(LA Times)


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