In the first four films he directed, Curtis Hanson had proved himself to be workmanlike, suspenseful, and blessed with a writer’s strong sense of situation. The Bedroom Window begins with a very human attempt to escape an embarrassing situation; Bad Influence is a variation on the chancemeeting setup: The Hand That Rocks the Cradle is rooted in the reasonable notion that child minders can become overattached; and The River Wild has the novel idea of letting a woman be the hero. Equally, those films are really no more than their own smart proposals. L A. Confidential is a different kind of picture: a period piece; a group portrait; and a multilevel study of corruption. It was fair to the James Ellroy original, to our nostalgia for forties and fifties noir. But it was more than that in making the Bud character into an unusual, unsmart hero.
Hanson edited Cinema magazine before he became a screenwriter: The Silent Partner (78, Daryl Duke), a bank-robbery film with unusual plot departures; White Dog (82, Samuel Fuller), derived from a Romain Garv novel; Never Cry Wolf (83, Carroll Ballard), adapted from Farley Mowat.
It is worth adding—in light of L A. Confidential—that for a period Hanson was an assistant to Robert Towne, who served as executive producer on The Bedroom Window. You can feel that influence in Confidential. Above all in Wonder Boys (adapted from Michael Chabon), one of the best recent American films and a terrific encouragement to the middle-aged.