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To Live and Die in L.A.

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Movie Info & Cast


William Friedkin's crime thriller, based on a book by U.S. Secret Service agent Gerald Petievich, concerns an arrogant Secret Service official who wants to get his man at any price. Willem Dafoe plays Eric Masters, an ultra-smooth counterfeiter who has managed to sidestep the police for years. He is so up-front about his dealings, in fact, that when some undercover agents try to make a deal with him at his health club, Eric tells them, I've been coming to this gym three times a week for five years. I'm an easy guy to find. People know they can trust me. But when young and eager Secret Service agent Richard Chance (William L. Petersen) finds out that his partner has been cold-bloodedly murdered by Eric, he trains his relentlessness upon capturing Eric -- whether it means robbery, murder, or exploiting his friends and associates. As Chance erases the dividing line between good and evil, he drags his new partner John Vukovich (John Pankow) and Ruth Lanier (Darlanne Fluegel), an ex-con, down into the maelstrom with him.~ Paul Brenner, All Movie Guide


  • William Petersen
  • Willem Dafoe
  • John Pankow
  • Debra Feuer
  • John Turturro
  • Darlanne Fluegel
  • Dean Stockwell
  • Steve James
  • Robert Downey Sr.
  • Michael Greene

Did You Know?


  • One Hollywood legend holds that Michael Mann sued William Friedkin for plagiarism over 'To Live and Die in L.A.' He accused Friedkin of stealing the entire concept of Miami Vice (1984) and lost the lawsuit. However, William Friedkin himself has said, "Michael Mann and I have been good friends for 30 years.... nothing like this ever happened."
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  • According to the title cards, the film begins in mid December and ends in late January. However, there is no mention whatsoever of Christmas or New Year's Day, and none of the sets has decorations of any kind for either holiday.
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    • Credit Card Counterfeiter: Why are you chasing me?
    • John Vukovich: Why you running?
    • Credit Card Counterfeiter: 'Cause you're chasing me, man!
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Atom User Reviews

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In the hierarchy of great movie chase sequences, the recent landmarks include the chases under the Brooklyn elevated tracks in The French Connection down the hills of San Francisco in Bullitt and through the Paris Metro in Diva. Those chases were not only thrilling in their own right, but they also reflected the essence of the cities where they took place. Now comes William Friedkin, director of The French Connection, with a new movie that contains another chase that belongs on that short list.

Metacritic review by Roger Ebert
Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times

To Live and Die in L.A. is as urgent and exhilaratingly paced as anything William Friedkin's done.

Metacritic review by Wesley Morris
Wesley Morris
San Francisco Examiner