The Influences of L.A. Noire

Learn about the classic movies, TV shows, music, and locations that influenced Rockstar's L.A. Noire.


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No Caption Provided L.A. Noire is a game steeped in the history of a mid-20th-century Los Angeles--a particularly interesting place and time in America's past that has heavily influenced various facets of popular culture. And these different forms of media have come to influence L.A. Noire. We asked Team Bondi cofounder Brendan McNamara to give us a rundown of the movies, TV shows, books, music, and locations that contributed to the classic theme, look, story, sounds, and style of L.A. Noire.

The Movies

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Sweet Smell of Success
This late-'50s noir inspired L.A. Noire with its stunning views of a city at night.

The Naked City
Any case-based police procedural, whether film, TV, or video game, owes a debt to this influential film.

A defining moment in film for its take on corruption and the form it took in the San Fernando Valley.

Jazz: A Film by Ken Burns
This incredible PBS documentary charts the history of jazz, from its birth in the early years of the 20th century through to modern times, and gave us a guide to the kind of musical atmosphere we wanted to create inside the game.

Out of the Past
Famous for its twists and turns, the epilogue-as-a-prologue at the start of the film is one of the great moments in cinema.

The Asphalt Jungle
A stunning heist movie in the noir style, this reminds me of an Ellroy novel where each character is fatally flawed and there is a sense of impending doom from the first scene.

The Third Man
The beautiful setting (postwar Vienna) and the powerful musical motifs were a huge inspiration, as well as the incredible lighting and staging.

The Television Shows

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A radio series and TV show from actor and writer Jack Webb, the TV show (also known as Dragnet) chronicled real life on the force and re-created the image of the LAPD. I have an old copy of the novel on my desk.

Naked City
The show spawned by the movie, which created the model for Law & Order and other similar shows.

The Music

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Miles Davis: Kind of Blue
The best jazz record ever made, and it presages the Cool West Coast movement that is the period for our game.

Miles Davis: Sketches of Spain
Put it on, have a listen, and you'll soon be transported miles away.

Dexter Gordon: One Flight Up
A great exile recording made in Paris that I listened to a lot while writing the script.

Chet Baker: Witch Doctor (Live at the Lighthouse)
The Lighthouse was a jazz club along the seafront in Santa Monica. We used to use this track in our early presentations for the game.

Oscar Petersen: On the Town With the Oscar Peterson Trio
I listened to this a lot when writing the overall plot for the game.

The Authors

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Raymond Chandler: The High Window, The Long Goodbye, and famously The Big Sleep
Subtle nods to these books can be found throughout the game.

Dashiell Hammett: The Dain Curse, Red Harvest, and The Maltese Falcon
One of the greatest writers in crime fiction.

James Ellroy: L.A. Confidential, The Big Nowhere
It's hard not to recommend that you buy everything Ellroy has ever written. Ellroy creates complex, human, deeply flawed characters that you come to love--a genius.

James Lee Burke: A Stained White Radiance
For someone who can't write prose, reading his novels is very humbling.

James M. Cain: Double Indemnity (screenplay for the film by Chandler)
Funnily enough, this and The Postman Always Ring Twice are the two defining novels of an everyman being manipulated by a beautiful woman.

Nathanael West: The Day of the Locust
It's still the definitive novel of the hope and despair of the early Hollywood process.

The Locations

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The Mocambo Club
A famous LA night spot on the Sunset Strip, the Mocambo was a hangout for the rich and famous and was renowned for the nefarious events that would take place there.

Brown Derby
Another 1940s LA landmark with caricatures of Hollywood stars covering the walls.

Hall of Records
We wanted to do a Chinatown moment where a character is searching the files, so we had to re-create the original Hall of Records, which was demolished long ago.

Egyptian Theatre
I've always loved the Egyptian Theatre and Grauman's Chinese Theatre, but I had never seen a film there, so we made sure to use them as interior locations during cases in the game.

Central Police Station
Like much of the Bunker Hill side of downtown LA, it has now all but disappeared, but it was fun researching what the building was like, including the attached Central Receiving Hospital.

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