Mulholland Falls

6.31 h 46 min1996X-RayR
Four tough, no-nonsense and very crooked cops investigate the murder of a young woman, When they discover she was romantically linked to their boss and a prominent U.S. Army General, they try to cover up the murder.
Lee Tamahori
Nick NolteMelanie GriffithChazz Palminteri
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Supporting actors
Michael MadsenChris PennTreat WilliamsJennifer Connelly
Lili Fini ZanuckRichard D. Zanuck
R (Restricted)
Content advisory
Alcohol usefoul languagesmokingviolence
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4.5 out of 5 stars

765 global ratings

  1. 71% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 16% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 7% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 3% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 2% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

D. LarsonReviewed in the United States on January 10, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
Men With Hats, or, Booze, Broads and Lucky Strikes!
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The true star of Mullholland Falls is, of course, the 1949 Buick Roadmaster. Was any car ever more aptly named? Sleek, chrome-laden, portholes, rich enamel and even richer leather, this car just oozes the 50’s glamour that Nick Nolte does not. Nolte is, needless to say, no Brando. But he sure does hard-bitten well. Of all the hard-bitten cynical cops in cinema, he’s right up there with Russel Crowe. When a mobster needs black-jacking, Nolte’s the man you want.
Another inanimate star, the brilliant Los Angeles sunshine, has seldom been better captured on film. Everything is clear, sharp, illuminated, L.A. looks just fine in yellow-filtered nostalgic hues.

I’ve watched more than a few bad movies just because John Malkovich was in them. I’d watch Malkovich read Chinese restaurant menus for an hour. Here, with an inexplicable white crewcut, he’s fine as the dissipated Oppenheimer stand-in. Chazz Palminteri gets all the best lines, as garrulous as Nolte is tactiturn. Michael Madsen and especially Jennifer Connelly are mostly background figures; Melanie Griffith gets a lot of speeches but she’s really overwrought. Acts her heart out, but too much heart.

The plot, of course, makes no sense whatever. Relying on the most improbable of coincidences, Nolte and Malkovich turn out to be Eskimo Brothers; the Hat Squad heads out to what must be the lowest security Army base in the west, where they can drive the splendid Buick around the back country unseen and unmolested in what you’d expect would be a fairly closely guarded site. A site where Jennifer Connelly was apparently able to wander about the base with a movie camera, filming whatever took her fancy. Including the secret ward with no doctors or nurses or orderlies hanging about. Bit odd, that.

And would the nefarious Colonel and his minion really figure to dispose of Nick and Chazz by tossing them out of an airplane? Didn’t the discovery of the first pancake corpse in the desert start all this investigating? And we’ve already been told that an atomic test is about to take place. What better way to get rid of an inconvenient snoop than vaporizing him in a nuclear detonation? Plus, we movie-goers are, at this point, kind of looking forward to seeing an A-Bomb going off.

We do get an absolutely wonderful C-47 crash landing, though. I have to think this was a practical effect, too, not the CGI we’d get now. It looked great! Kudos for that crash.

Also kudos for the sheer number of cigarettes offered, lit, smoked, discarded, gestured with and thrown down in disgust. I like a movie with a lot of smoking, and this is one of those. You could make a great drinking game of that. One shot of Jaeger for every Lucky Strike? Plus, hats. I loved the bit where the survivors put their fedoras on the unlucky Chazz’s coffin. Except Nolte, who’s too tough for sentimental gestures. He keeps his hat screwed firmly on while me makes gruff apologies to Melanie Griffith, a hard man to the end.

In summary, a wonderfully filmed if slightly ridiculous tribute to the glory days of tough cops in seedy L.A., where every desk drawer has a bottle of rye and a blackjack across the occiput is preferable to an indictment. Where you can send a cheap gunsel on a one-way trip down the mountain and then go home and smoke a carton of Pall Malls with the wife you’re cheating on. Iron men with Chesterfields in one hand and .45’s in the other.
20 people found this helpful
joel wingReviewed in the United States on July 13, 2020
2.0 out of 5 stars
Has many of the common features of film noir but the writing just flops
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Mulholland Falls was a neo-noir set in 1950s Los Angeles. The movie begins with a secret filming of a couple Allison Pond (Jennifer Connelly) and General Timms (John Malkovich) who was the head of the Atomic Energy Commission. Later Allison is found dead, pulverized to the point that all her bones were broken. A hardnosed Los Angeles detective team led by Max Hoover (Nick Nolte) and including Ellery Coolidge (Chazz Palminteri), Eddie Hall (Michael Madsen) and Arthur Relyea (Chris Penn) are tasked with investigating the murder which leads them to corruption in the government.

What the film does well is capture the tough guy heroes in Hoover and his team. They also represent the classic noir trope of the common man up against forces much more powerful then themselves.

What’s off about Mulholland Falls is that the story just isn’t that interesting. The audience is supposed to care about who killed Allison and all the intrigue surrounding her death but the writers just didn’t make it a good whodunnit. Without that there’s no motivation to stick with the film.
11 people found this helpful
Norma McLReviewed in the United States on December 8, 2018
4.0 out of 5 stars
Very good movie, well produced and well acted
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I decided to give this film only five minutes, given that the lead characters were described as "tough, no-nonsense, very crooked" cops, which is not exactly my ideal of manhood or cophood. But it did, after all, feature Nick Nolte and Melanie Griffith, who are generally worth more than five minutes.

What the description did not say is that these "tough, no-nonsense, very crooked cops" were also men who cared deeply about their families and justice, and even in personal self-improvement.

Justice sometimes has an adversary position to what the powers-that-be say it is, so I certainly don't consider criticisms of that sort to be worthwhile. (Think of all the Westerns you've seen in which the real hero was someone who defied authority.)

Nick Nolte and Melanie Griffith are very fine actors who are generally underappreciated. Their performances were very well-honed, and the supporting cast put in performances ranging from simply believable to excellent. I saw few things to criticize in the film. The film noir aspect is very well executed, the sets are terrific, and the film is well acted and directed by proven pros. What's not to like? It's certainly worth far more than the five minutes I had initially accorded it.
12 people found this helpful
Tim F. MartinReviewed in the United States on March 5, 2021
4.0 out of 5 stars
Worthwhile period piece neo-noir. Nolte at his best.
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Mulholland Falls (1996) is a period piece neo-noir, I understand it did poorly with critics and at the box office and was overshadowed by L.A. Confidential. Movie is about four LAPD detectives, based on the real life Hat Squad, who only answered to the police chief and do lots of lawbreaking in upholding the law.

Usually the squad roughs up gangsters, mob bosses from Chicago or elsewhere back east, but the squad gets involved in a murder of a woman the leader of the squad knows (the leader Detective Lieutenant Maxwell Hoover, played by a gravely voiced Nick Nolte, the woman Allison Pond, played by Jennifer Connelly). Her death is mysterious and it isn't obvious at first to anyone else Hoover knew Allison Pond, though he was having an affair with her. Investigating her murder takes the squad all the way to Nevada and a cover up at the Nevada Test Site involving the military.

I liked the element with the Nevada Test Site and how that tied in with Allison's murder, that was interesting. I thought the movie was well cast, I liked the music, the period details, and the penultimate scene was very exciting. Though I think they were underused, Connelly and Melanie Griffith as Katherine Hoover, Max's wife, did a great job. Even though Allison is dead at the start of the film we see her a lot in flashbacks.

I thought the actual mystery was a bit thin at times and the squad should have at least figured out the how of Allison's death very early on. The coverup, for all the role the atomic bomb program played, was actually in some ways mundane. I liked the squad but two of the characters didn't have much of a presence. One did, Detective Ellery Coolidge played by Chazz Palminteri, I liked his character. The movies is vague on just how far apart L.A. and the Nevada Test Site, making them seem rather close, but this is a very small point.

I liked it. It's worth watching
One person found this helpful
Chancellor RReviewed in the United States on March 3, 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
A great 50's period crime drama
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This is one of those well made period piece movies I really like. It has an excellent cast with Nick Nolte, Chazz Palminteri, John Malkovich, Melanie Griffith, Jennifer Connelly and Treat Williams, among others. It is the story about the officially unofficial group in the LAPD in the 1950's that were given the responsibility of keeping organized crime out of Los Angeles, and if they had to break the law to do it, administration looked the other way. In the course of their investigating a murdered girl Nolte's character recognizes her having had an affair with her and compromising his position and his marriage. The investigation takes them to the secret nuclear weapons programs of the time, and the men that would do anything to protect national secrets. It has that 50's feel I enjoyed so much in L.A.Confidential, and shares some of the subplot with it, as well as the much much weaker movie Gangster Squad. I also enjoyed an early scene where William Peterson of C.S.I. fame is thrown off "Mulholland Falls" to urge him to leave town.
6 people found this helpful
Amazon CustomerReviewed in the United States on April 28, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Noir wonderful
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A perfect film. Simple story. The best always are. Great acting. Great vibe. Great cars of the period. Also, nice to see Melanie before she f'd up her face. Jennifer Conolly, always nice to see. And we see alot of her. Magnificent (well, you know what's). I also appreciated all the carefree smoking. Remember back when you could smoke where and whenever you wanted to. Without having to ask permission from anybody. Hell, they smoked too.
2 people found this helpful
wild oakReviewed in the United States on February 19, 2022
3.0 out of 5 stars
Doesn't quite click
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This movie reminds me of Chinatown and the more recent L.A. Confidential. It has the making of another classic (as Chinatown and L.A. Confidential did), yet it doesn't quite click. The cast was solid. Music score is reminiscent of Chinatown and L.A. Confidential. Production is alright. The weakest link(s), is the mediocre directing, coupled with an average screenplay that wastes away a good plot. Cast chemistry is non-existent. Nolte is alright as the lead, but Melanie Griffith is boring. (She can't carry water for Faye Dunaway or Kim Basinger.) The other three members of the Squad are pretty charmless. It's such a disappointment, 3.5 stars at best.
bonfireblondieReviewed in the United States on April 20, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
Haunting Music, L.A. in the Fifties!
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The music is haunting and heavenly. Nick Nolte is excellent as with all the other actors. I love the ambiance of LA in the fifties. This was a good mystery. But I think I love the feel of it, more than the storyline. Although, it is very well written. Why can't they make movies like this or Chinatown and L.A. Confidential, anymore? Sigh....I guess it's because no one will go see these types of movies. It's probably also why I don't go to the movies anymore. Hollywood doesn't make anything I care to see.
11 people found this helpful
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