Mrs. Collins told her story clearly, stating that from the first she was convinced the boy was not her missing son…
She was subjected to an exhaustive examination by President Schweitzer, who wound up asking her what happened shortly before she was taken to the County Hospital.
“I was requested to appear before Captain Jones,” she said.
“In the presence of several others, he said: ‘What are you trying to do, make a lot of fools out of us all? Are you trying to shirk your duty as a mother and
have the State provide for your son? You are just a fool.’”
—Los Angeles Times, October 17, 1928,
reporting on Mrs. Christine Collins at Police Commission Hearings
CLINT EASTWOOD (Million Dollar Baby, Unforgiven, Letters from Iwo Jima) directs ANGELINA JOLIE (The Good Shepherd, A Mighty Heart, Girl, Interrupted) and JOHN MALKOVICH (Dangerous Liaisons, Beowulf, upcoming Burn After Reading) in an emotional and provocative drama based on actual events that forever transformed the City of Los Angeles. L’Échange tells the story of one woman whose invincible spirit and refusal to surrender brought down a corrupt police department and ushered in a new era of dignity and equality under the law.
Los Angeles, March 1928: On a beautiful Saturday morning in a working-class suburb, single mother Christine Collins (Oscar® winner Angelina Jolie) says goodbye to her nine-year-old son, Walter, and leaves for her job as a telephone operator. But when Christine returns to their modest home, she is confronted with every parent’s worst nightmare: her son has vanished.
An exhaustive and fruitless search ensues, but Walter has disappeared without a trace…until five months later, when a child—claiming to be her boy—is returned by police who are eager to bask in the public relations coup of reuniting mother and child. Dazed by the swirl of cops, reporters, photographers and her own conflicted emotions, Christine is persuaded to take the boy home. But in her heart, she knows he is not Walter.
As she pushes authorities to keep looking for her real son, Christine learns that in Prohibition-era L.A., women don’t challenge the system and live to tell their story. Slandered as delusional and unfit, she finds an ally in community activist Reverend Gustav Briegleb (John Malkovich), who helps her fight the city to look for her missing boy.
Facing corrupt police who question her sanity and a skeptical public hungry for a fairy-tale ending, Christine desperately hunts for answers. As she searches, she becomes an unlikely heroine for the poor and downtrodden who have been systematically abused and swept aside by the police state that has gripped L.A. Now, one woman’s quest won’t stop until she finds her son…unless those assigned to protect and serve silence her for good.
Joining director/producer Eastwood for the drama as producers are Imagine Entertainment’s Academy Award® winner BRIAN GRAZER (American Gangster, Cinderella Man, A Beautiful Mind), Oscar® winner RON HOWARD (Frost/Nixon, Cinderella Man), as well as Oscar® nominee ROBERT LORENZ (Letters from Iwo Jima, Million Dollar Baby, Mystic River).
Joining Jolie and Malkovich is an accomplished cast that includes JEFFREY DONOVAN (television’s Burn Notice) as Captain J.J. Jones, the head of LAPD’s juvenile investigation unit assigned to find Walter; MICHAEL KELLY (Broken English) as Detective Lester Ybarra, the officer who initially links Walter’s disappearance to another crime spree; COLM FEORE (Chicago) as LAPD Police Chief James E. Davis, the head of the corrupt department; JASON BUTLER HARNER (television’s John Adams) as Gordon Northcott, a serial killer who may have the clues to Walter’s disappearance; and AMY RYAN (Gone Baby Gone) as Carol Dexter, a fellow innocent prisoner who aids Christine during her lockdown in a mental ward.
Leading the behind-the-scenes talent is a seasoned crew of Eastwood film veterans, including director of photography TOM STERN (Million Dollar Baby, Flags of Our Fathers), production designer JAMES J. MURAKAMI (Letters from Iwo Jima, Rails & Ties), Oscar®-winning editor JOEL COX (Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby) and editor GARY D. ROACH (Letters from Iwo Jima, Rails & Ties), costume designer DEBORAH HOPPER (Million Dollar Baby, Mystic River) and visual effects supervisor MICHAEL OWENS (Flags of Our Fathers, Letters from Iwo Jima). The drama’s screenplay is by J. MICHAEL STRACZYNSKI (upcoming They Marched Into Sunlight).
L’Échange’s executive producers are TIM MOORE (Flags of Our Fathers, Letters from Iwo Jima) and JIM WHITAKER (American Gangster, Cinderella Man).