Berlinale: Programme

Film File


To Live and Die in L. A.

Leben und Sterben in L.A.

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Artistically inclined criminal Eric Masters has given up painting in favour of making counterfeit money. When he and his cohort murder a Secret Service agent who is on their trail, the agent’s partner and friend Richard Chance swears to take Masters down at all costs. After capturing one of the forger’s mules fails to provide leverage, he poses as a potential buyer of the fake currency. In order to meet Masters’ price, Chance himself sets out to commit a robbery … In this action-packed thriller, Willem Dafoe is a kind of Mick Jagger of the local gangster milieu. His character has a sense of fashion reflected in his clothing and the decoration of his apartment, and a sexual ambivalence that he acts out in a liaison with his lesbian accomplice; he counters the machismo of the federal agent with sardonic charm. Director William Friedkin, who set the standard for four-wheeled pursuit sequences with The French Connection (1971), added an innovative car chase to the mix. With a production design fully in keeping with the 1980s zeitgeist, the film remains well worth seeing today.

USA 1985


116 min · Colour · 2K DCP

Rating R16


William L. Petersen
Willem Dafoe
John Pankow
Debra Feuer
John Turturro
Darlanne Fluegel
Dean Stockwell
Michael Green
Steve James
Robert Downey


William Friedkin
William Friedkin, Gerald Petievich, based on the novel “To Live and Die in L.A.” (1984) by Gerald Petievich
Director of Photography
Robby Müller
Bud Smith, Scott Smith
Wang Chung
Jean-Louis Ducarme
Production Design
Lilly Kilvert
Art Director
Buddy Cone
Linda Bass
Jefferson Dawn
Irving H. Levin

Produced by

New Century Productions, Ltd. / SLM, Inc. für/for United Artists Corp.