These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
YMMV: L.A. Confidential
Acceptable Targets: Those framed for The Night Owl murders were, in the words of Exley, "because they were Negroes and because they had records."
Alas, Poor Scrappy: Sid Hudgens is despicable, especially his setting up Reynolds to blackmail Loew, but the way Dudley double-crosses and then shoots him point-blank? You can't help but feel a little bad for the guy.
Batman Gambit: Jack Vincennes' dying words to Dudley, hoping he'd throw it into the investigation to bait Ed. he does.
Complete Monster: Captain Dudley Smith is a corrupt police officer who tries to get control of all criminal activity in Los Angeles after the fall of gangster Mickey Cohen leaves a power vacuum behind. He chases away or kills off all criminal opposition in the city. When officer Dick Stensland and private bodyguard Buzz Meeks try to get more out of a major heroin deal they made with him he kills both of them, one in a diner massacre that leaves a dozen innocent people dead. He frames a trio of black criminals for the massacre, and orders them killed during the arrest by his associates to make sure they won't talk. His plan is undermined by other cops arriving on the scene, but he manipulates the men of the department into killing the fall guys later on anyway. He arranges to execute any cop who discovers his corruption, and kills off all his business partners to tie up any loose ends. Even after a major shootout with the last two good cops that leaves all his minions dead he just carries on as usual, intending to use his position to get away with his crimes and restart his organization anew.
In the book there's Ed's virtuoso interrogation of the Nite Owl suspects; Jack's performance at Loew's senatorial fundraiser; Inez and Ed's confrontation; and Jack, Ed, and Bud putting together the pieces of the case.
In the movie, there's Ed and Jack meeting Lana Turner; Bud dangling Loew out of his office window; Ed's interrogation (only slightly less impressive than the book version); and the final confrontation with Dudley at the Victory Motel.
Ethnic Scrappy: Inez, in the movie (who is barely even given an identity other than "the Mexican girl" the Nite Owl suspects kidnapped and raped). She averts it in the book, becoming Preston Exley and Ray Dieterling's Girl Friday on her own merit.
Hilarious in Hindsight: In the book, Bud befriends a young prostitute who is murdered soon afterward. Quite a tragic and moving event, except that her name is Kathy Janeway. Needless to say, the character doesn't appear in the movie.
Jerkass Woobie: Bud White and Ed Exley, in two completely different ways.
Magnificent Bastard: In both the book and the movie, it's Dudley Smith, the mastermind of the Nite Owl killings, the attacks on Mickey Cohen, and the new heroin racket.
Ed Exley reaches it in the book, though it's not really until White Jazz, set years later when Ed is Chief of Detectives, that we see him in full Magnificent Bastard mode.
Jack's death, in the movie, especially the betrayed, confused look in his eyes.
The final line of the book, highlighting Ed's Pyrrhic Victory in six words:
Gold stars. Alone with his dead.
The scene where a desperate Bud confronts Lynn angry at her for sleeping with Exley and she slaps before looking remourseful for what he did and realizing he's acting the same way his abusive father used to do.
Even though most of the crap he goes through is his own damned fault, Jack Vincennes is so completely, utterly screwed up that he goes from despicable, all the way through pathetic and comes out being pitiful.
Matt Reynolds. Unless you think smoking a little pot should result in having your career and life destroyed, then being exploited by the very guys who did it to you, which then results in your murder.