LA Confidential Director Curtis Hanson Dead at 71

Curtis Hanson, the film director whose adaptation of the James Ellroy noir novel “L.A. Confidential” won him an Academy Award, died on Tuesday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 71.

The death was confirmed by Officer Jenny Houser, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Police Department. She said that officers had been called to the house shortly before 5 p.m., and that Mr. Hanson had died of natural causes.

Julie Mann, his business manager, said Mr. Hanson had been struggling for some time with a form of dementia.

Mr. Hanson directed a handful of hits, including “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle,” “The River Wild” and “8 Mile,” as well as the well-received television movie “Too Big to Fail.” But “L.A. Confidential,” released in 1997, was his biggest film and his most successful artistic creation.

In it he captures the midcentury Los Angeles that Mr. Ellroy portrayed in his novel, a world of corrupt police officers and organized crime, Hollywood back-room deals and prostitution.

Mr. Hanson drew inspiration as well from films by Stanley Kubrick, Robert Aldrich and Nicholas Ray in which Los Angeles played a key role. Ray’s 1950 film, “In a Lonely Place,” about a Hollywood screenwriter (played by Humphrey Bogart) suspected of murder, was a touchstone for Mr. Hanson.

“It was the era of mystery and glamour,” Mr. Hanson said in an interview with The New York Times promoting the film, “an era when everything started in that postwar boom that’s still very much with us — the freeways, the idea and growth of suburbia, television, the start of the tabloid press.”

“L.A. Confidential” starred Kevin Spacey and Kim Basinger and introduced to American audiences the New Zealand actor Russell Crowe and the Australian Guy Pearce.

“Curtis has this great ability to see what makes you tick and find the appropriate things to say,” Mr. Pearce said in an interview years later. “I don’t mean in a politically correct way, but as in terms of inspiring you and getting you to do what he wants. To me, that’s the job description of what directing is all about.”

Released to critical acclaim, “L.A. Confidential” was nominated for nine Oscars, including for best picture and best director. But it was competing against “Titanic” in many categories (“Titanic” took the best picture award) and won only two awards — for best supporting actress (Ms. Basinger) and best adapted screenplay (Mr. Hanson and his co-writer, Brian Helgeland).

“L.A. Confidential” was one of two dozen pictures named by the Library of Congress in 2015 as worthy of preservation in the National Film Registry.

Reviewing the film in The Times, Janet Maslin called it “resplendently wicked” — “a tough, gorgeous, vastly entertaining throwback to the Hollywood that did things right” — and cautioned would-be viewers, “Take a popcorn break and you’ll be sorry.”

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