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Terry Teachout and I discussed L.A. Confidential, the last famous neo-noir, and yet another story about the origins of Los Angeles and the modern America defined by glamour. We have a reversal of the noir here–the femme fatale helps redeem rather than damn protagonists who were corrupt before they came to make a serious moral decision. Curtis Hanson’s movie makes for a revision of heroism away from noir’s tragic destiny toward American drama, where happy ends are possible, in limited ways, for some of the people who deserve them. It’s in that sense even better than the rather gloomier James Ellroy novel it’s based on!