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‘To Live and Die in L.A.’ captivates with cheesy 80’s cinema

Revisiting the Classics

“To Live and Die in L.A.”- Starring; William Petersen, Willem Dafoe and John Pankow

7 out of 10

By Hayden Prescott Corwin ’15

The 1985 action-thriller movie “To Live and Die in L.A.,” based off the novel by Gerald Petievich, was directed by William Friedkin and starred William Petersen.

The movie opens with soundtrack music by Wang Chung, and a shot of a U.S. Secret Service vehicle.

William Petersen plays the role of a hotshot Secret Service agent named Richard Chance who is assigned to investigate money counterfeiting.

After his longtime partner is murdered by artist/counterfeiter Rick Masters, played by Willem Dafoe, Chance goes all out to put an end to Masters and his business.

Along the way to catch Masters, Chance takes a risk by stealing $50,000 dollars to purchase counterfeit money from Masters in order to charge him with distribution of counterfeit money.

Stealing the money goes awry and turns into an extended car chase scene that takes place in industrial zones and ends on the freeway.

Chance’s life becomes absorbed by trying to catch his partner’s killer.

“To Live and Die in L.A.” ends with a twist that will leave your mouth hanging open.

The acting in “To Live and Die in L.A.” is dramatic, and at times over the top.

Some of the lines in the movie are laughable when paired with the acting.

Despite the over the top acting and poor lines, the movie is still entertaining and holds attention well.

It is one of those movies that is so cheesy you cannot look away.

The movie also features 80’s era-appropriate clothing and settings.

According to the special features on the DVD released in 2003, real-life counterfeiters were brought in to teach the cast and crew what the counterfeiting process looks like.

A number of the scenes used in the final cut of the movie were first takes.

In the special features, Petersen recalls a scene near the beginning of the movie that was shot while he thought Friedkin was doing a run through of the scene.

The budget of the film was $6,000,000 and it grossed $17,300,000 in the box office.

Overall, “To Live and Die in L.A.” is a movie that contains multiple clichés and unintentional humorous spots of acting errors, but it still finds a way to use those things to its advantage.

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