Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

To Live and Die in L.A.


For some oddball reason, the US Secret Service is charged with two basic tasks: the protection of the President and certain other dignitaries, a job they got after the McKinley assassination in 1901, and counterfeiting, at the behest of Abraham Lincoln in 1865. They don’t exactly go together, and you’d think the presidential mission would be the most likely thing for an action movie, but this one deals with a big-time, really nasty phony money guy, Willem Dafoe. It’s a crackerjack thriller directed by William Friedkin, and it has a shocking ending that I won’t reveal. The highlight of the film is undoubtedly a car chase against oncoming traffic on the freeway that includes a jackknifing truck; made my jaw drop in 1985. But everything about it is good, particularly the acting by Dafoe and William Petersen.