|“||I admire you as a policeman - particularly your adherence to violence as a necessary adjunct to the job.||„|
|~ Dudley Smith's most famous quote as he manipulates Officer Wendell "Bud" White into aiding him with his agenda.|
Captain Dudley Liam Smith is the main antagonist of James Ellroy's neo-noir novel series known as the L.A. Quartet, as well as the 1997 crime-thriller hit film L.A. Confidential, which is based on the third novel of the same name.
He is a corrupt police captain serving in the L.A.P.D. who, along with his unit of corrupt cops, are responsible for arresting Mickey Cohen and subsequently taking over his heroin empire, effectively becoming the most powerful crime kingpin in Los Angeles.
He was portrayed by James Cromwell who also played Joseph Campbell in The General's Daughter, The Colonel in DreamWorks' Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, Warden Hazen in the 2005 remake of The Longest Yard, Dr. Arthur Arden in American Horror Story: Asylum, William Donahue in Eraser, and Professor Robert Callaghan in Disney's Big Hero 6.
Captain Smith is the head of the L.A.P.D's corrupt detective's division. He and the cops under his command partake in bribes, getting confessions through torture and even flat out murdering suspects. After top Los Angeles gang boss Mickey Cohen is arrested, Smith and his detectives take over his criminal empire by assassinating many of Cohen's top lieutenants and anyone else attempting to take control of crime in the city. After acquiring a large stash of Cohen's heroin, Smith arranges for the assassination of the pair of corrupt cops that stole it for him, one of which results in a mass shooting in a local coffee shop.
The murder of this crooked officer and the other unfortunate customers in the restaurant are investigated by hotshot detective Edmund Exley with the help of celebrity Vice cop Jack Vincennes. Eventually, with prompting from Smith, Exley investigates a group of African-American men for the coffee shop shooting. As all men have prior criminal records they are the perfect fall guys for the murders. One of his usual enforcers and "interrogators", Bud White begins to become suspicious of the circumstances of the shooting as he was the partner of one of the slain officers. His suspicions grow after he meets and begins sleeping with a call girl named Lynn, who works for a local pimp and business man Pierce Patchett.
It soon comes to light that Smith has taken over Cohen's criminal empire in Los Angeles and has begun tying up all his loose ends, starting with the two corrupt cops at the night owl cafe. Smith also has Patchett killed and personally murders Jack Vincennes when the latter starts to get too close to the truth. However Exley, tipped off by Smith himself when he mistakenly repeats Jack's last words to him, puts the pieces together and realizes his captain's involvement in the drug trade. In turn Smith attempts to have Exley killed by showing White pictures he had taken of Exley and White's lover, Lynn, being intimate together. Exley, however is able to make White see reason and shows him the evidence he has on Smith and the two decide to work together to crack the case.
As the two investigate they are lured into a trap at a vacant house by Smith and his men; a massive shootout then ensues. After killing numerous amounts of Smith's corrupt cops, White and Exley are critically wounded. Smith enters the house and seemingly kills White with a shot to the face. He is about to execute Exley as well until they hear the sounds of police sirens approaching. Smith, thinking he can buy Exley with a promotion, tries to further manipulate him into his scheme by having him corroborate his story so they both come out of the shooting looking like heroes. Smith begins to walk away from the scene towards the incoming cop cars, thinking he has won and gloating over Exley's inability to gun down an unarmed suspect. However, just as the police come over the hill, Exley fires his shotgun into the corrupt Captain's back, killing Smith instantly, and ending his criminal reign over the city of angels.
Both Exley and White, who survived the shooting, are commended as heroes for breaking the cafe shooting case and their part in stopping Smith's new criminal empire; which the LAPD cover up by saying that Smith died a hero in order to protect the department's image and reputation, both in exchange for commending Exley also being hailed as a hero for his bravery within the investigations.