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Curtis Hanson, Who Directed 'L.A. Confidential,' Dies At 71

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Next, let's remember the man who brought "L.A Confidential" to life on the screen. "L.A. Confidential" was a novel by James Ellroy - violent, cynical, exuberant. It became an Oscar-winning movie starring Russell Crowe and Kim Basinger.

The director was Curtis Hanson, who has died at home in Los Angeles. It happened yesterday. He was 71.

Here's what NPR film critic Bob Mondello had to say about "L.A. Confidential" when it was released.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: The glamour is tawdry and the politics dirty in 1950s Los Angeles, where the image of a city run by the mob and burnished by the film industry requires a special kind of police force. A force that's willing to bend the law to the dictates of the powerful, and to the tastes of the public.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "L.A. CONFIDENTIAL")

GUY PEARCE: (As Ed Exley) A naked guy with a gun? You expect anyone to believe that? How's it going to look in your report?

RUSSELL CROWE: (As Bud White) It'll look like justice. That's what the man got - justice.

PEARCE: (As Ed Exley) You don't know the meaning of the word.

CROWE: (As Bud White) Yeah? Well, you think it means getting your picture in the paper. Why don't you go after criminals for a change instead of cops?

INSKEEP: That's a bit of "L.A. Confidential" dialogue. The film was released in 1997. Curtis Hanson talked about his filmmaking in 2005.

CURTIS HANSON: You know, what interests me first and foremost in the pictures I make are the people, the life issues that they're dealing with.

INSKEEP: He told our colleague Michele Norris he was fascinated by the way that people are shaped by their environments. And after that film on the environment of mid-century Los Angeles, he made a film called "8 Mile," that was based on the early life and the rise of the rapper Eminem in Detroit. Hanson's rise started early. He loved movies from childhood. He dropped out of high school to pursue the career that would define his adult life.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LOSE YOURSELF")

EMINEM: (Rapping) The beat goes on, da-da-dum da-dum dah-dah. You better lose yourself in the music, the moment. You own it, you better never let it go. You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow. This opportunity comes once in a lifetime. You better lose yourself in the music, the moment. You own it, you better never let it go. You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow. This opportunity comes once in a lifetime, you better. No more games, I'ma change what you call rage. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.