[Quick Summary: In post-war L.A., three very different cops face corruption in three intertwining stories.]
Helgeland & Hanson are good writers. Damn good.
Of the 71 scripts I've read so far on this list, this is the only one that keeps THREE protagonists with THREE story lines going at once.
(In an interview, Hanson said that producers tried to get him to reduce the number of protagonists, but he resisted.)
How did they make it easy to follow?
1) The three story lines are like three strands of a braid. All are distinct, but will eventually combine to form one unit.
2) It is always clear which protagonists' story it is, even if the other protagonists are present.
ex. Early on, Bud's partner gets in trouble. Exley agrees to testify against Bud's partner in exchange for a promotion. For the rest of the script, Bud tries to clear the partner's name.
This is Bud's story line. Exley is not involved... until much later when Exley's story crosses with Bud's.
WHAT I'VE LEARNED: This story wouldn't have been as good with 2 protagonists.
It is possible to have three protagonists...but only if the story remains tight.
L.A. Confidential (1997)
by Brian Helgeland & Curtis Hanson