Curtis Hanson, a Hollywood director whose motley output included a deranged-nanny thriller and a semi-biopic of rapper Eminem as well as “L.A. Confidential,” a crime drama that also earned him a screenwriting Oscar and made Russell Crowe a star, died Sept. 20 in Los Angeles. He was 71.

A Los Angeles Police Department spokesman said paramedics found Hanson at his home in the Hollywood Hills section of the city. His companion, producer Rebecca Yeldham, told the Associated Press that Hanson had a rare terminal condition called frontotemporal degeneration that eventually destroys behavioral control.

“L.A. Confidential” (1997), co-written with Brian Helgeland from a James Ellroy novel, was Hanson’s career apex. It was a sleek and supremely entertaining drama of moral rot in the California sunshine, a film layered with gradations of corruption and compromise and a plotline filigreed with police, pornographers, movie people and gangsters.

To film aficionados, “L.A. Confidential” followed in the “retro noir” tradition of Roman Polanski’s masterpiece “Chinatown” (1974), but Hanson said he had set out to conjure the tone of director Nicholas Ray’s Hollywood-set noir “In a Lonely Place” (1950), with Humphrey Bogart as an unstable screenwriter suspected of murder.

“L.A. Confidential” was so alive with 1950s tabloid atmospherics and so confidently directed through its thicket of plots, that it transcended period piece nostalgia.

“You’re like Santa Claus with that list,” one cop tells another, as they make their rounds, “except everyone on it’s been naughty.”

Crowe, then little known outside of Australia, was the film’s male standout, playing a police officer who brutalizes criminals and develops a tenderness for a jaded call girl. Kim Basinger earned an Academy Award for best supporting actress, and the film also drew Oscar nominations for best picture and best director but lost to “Titanic” and its director, James Cameron.

Last year, “L.A. Confidential” was placed on the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry of “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant movies.

Hanson’s output as a director was modest but versatile: 14 feature films and a handful of screenwriting credits over four decades. After an apprenticeship in low-budget horror films, he directed an early Tom Cruise vehicle, “Losin’ It” (1983), about randy American teens in Tijuana.

“L.A. Confidential” thrust Mr. Hanson to the front rank of filmmakers, and he chose as a follow-up “Wonder Boys” (2000), based on Michael Chabon’s novel centered on a cannibis-loving, washed-up author (Michael Douglas). Hanson persuaded Bob Dylan to write a song for the film; Dylan’s “Things Have Changed” earned him an Oscar, but the film was a commercial dud.

Hanson surprised critics by extracting a credible performance from Eminem in “8 Mile” (2002). His next film was “In Her Shoes” (2005), a sibling-rivalry romp starring Cameron Diaz and Toni Collette. It was dismally received, but he saw in the movie parallels with his most enduring work.

“For me all good stories are about awareness,” Hanson told the London Guardian. “People discover who they are and what they’re all about by meeting their doppelgängers.”

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