Taglines: A federal agent is dead. A killer is loose. And the City of Angels is about to explode.
Working largely in cases of counterfeiting, LA based Secret Service agent Richie Chance exhibits reckless behavior which according to his longtime and now former partner Jimmy Hart will probably land him in the morgue before he’s ready to retire.
That need for the thrill manifests itself in his personal life by his love of base jumping. Professionally, it is demonstrated by the fact that he is sextorting a parolee named Ruth Lanier, who feeds him information in return for he not sending her back to prison for some trumped up parole violation.
With his new partner John Vukovich, Chance is more determined than ever based on recent circumstances to nab known longtime counterfeiter Ric Masters, who is more than willing to use violence against and kill anyone who crosses him. Masters is well aware that the Secret Service is after him. Masters’ operation is somewhat outwardly in disarray, with Chance being able to nab his mule, Carl Cody, in the course of moving some of the fake money.
To Live and Die in L.A. is a 1985 American action thriller film directed by William Friedkin and based on the novel by former U.S. Secret Service agent Gerald Petievich, who co-wrote the screenplay with Friedkin. The film features William Petersen, Willem Dafoe and John Pankow among others. Wang Chung composed and performed the original music soundtrack. The film tells the story of the lengths to which two Secret Service agents go to arrest a counterfeiter.
About the Story
Richard Chance and Jimmy Hart are United States Secret Service agents assigned as counterfeiting investigators in its Los Angeles field office. Chance has a reputation for reckless behavior, while Hart is three days away from retirement. Alone, Hart stakes out a warehouse in the desert thought to be a print house of counterfeiter Rick Masters. After Masters and Jack, his bodyguard, kill Hart, Chance explains to his new partner, John Vukovich, that he will take Masters down no matter what.
The two agents attempt to get information on Masters by putting one of his criminal associates, attorney Max Waxman, under surveillance. Vukovich falls asleep on watch, and consequently they fail to catch Masters in the act of murdering Waxman. While Vukovich wants to go by the book, Chance becomes increasingly reckless and unethical in his efforts to catch Masters.
While Chance relies on his sexual-extortion relationship with parolee/informant Ruth for information, Vukovich meets privately with Masters’ attorney, Bob Grimes. Grimes, acknowledging a potential conflict of interest that could ruin his legal practice, agrees to set up a meeting between his client and the two agents, who engage Masters by posing as bankers from Palm Springs interested in Masters’ counterfeiting services. Masters is reluctant to work with them, but ultimately agrees to print them $1,000,000 worth of fake bills.
In turn, Masters demands $30,000 in front money, which is three times the authorized agency limit for buy money. To get the cash, Chance persuades Vukovich to aid him in robbing Thomas Ling, a man whom Ruth previously told Chance is bringing $50,000 cash to purchase stolen diamonds. Chance and Vukovich intercept Ling at the train station and seize the cash in an industrial area. Ling’s cover people follow them, though, open fire and accidentally shoot Ling. Chance and Vukovich try to evade them through the streets, freeways and even one of the flood control channels, before a final escape by going the wrong way on the freeway.
To Live and Die in L.A. (1985)
Directed by: William Friedkin
Starring: William Petersen, Willem Dafoe, John Pankow, Debra Feuer, John Turturro, Darlanne Fluegel, Dean Stockwell, Steve James
Screenplay by: William Friedkin
Production Design by: Lilly Kilvert
Cinematography by: Robby Müller
Film Editing by: M. Scott Smith
Costume Design by: Linda M. Bass
Set Decoration by: Cricket Rowland
Art Direction by: Buddy Cone
Music by: Wang Chung
Distributed by: Metro Goldwyn Mayer, United Artists
Release Date: November 1, 1985